The Key To Conquering Old Building Smell Syndrome

Is old building smell syndrome the ghostly remnants of residents or workers past that are somehow trapped in the limbo of time, or is it the result of decades of bad housekeeping? The answer is neither.

This condition can be caused by a multitude of factors. Dead rodents, dust, decaying moldy debris, temperature changes, humidity or urine buildup in restrooms and other areas are among the major culprits.

Old building smell syndrome is a close encounter of the fourth and most unpleasant kind; namely foul airborne odors.

Their elimination is assured when they are addressed by highly-effective odor neutralizing ambient air care products, namely those we provide and have perfected over the last seven-plus decades of operation.

The following blog explores the annoying malodorous condition known as “old building smell”, the underlying elements that can cause it, the effects it can have on employee productivity and customer experience and the vaporous odor neutralizing and air freshening products we provide that effectively address this noxious airborne odor in commercial settings.

Our Aroma Beam air freshener eliminates vaporous odors!

The Aroma Beam Packaging

What Causes Old Building Smell?

According to Bill Carroll Jr., an adjunct professor of chemistry at Indiana University: “Old building smell is usually caused by three things that musty buildings have in common: little ventilation, high humidity and darkness.

That makes these places the perfect atmosphere for these odors to flourish, which happens to be the main purveyors of that “old building smell.”

Old building smell is immediate upon entry, especially if a structure has been closed for a long while.

There is no escape from that lingering odor, whether the room is an old library, a museum, older coastal properties, apartment complexes, old banks or houses of worship constructed long ago.

Old Library Building Smell

Sometimes, that smell lingers even after windows have been opened and a room or space has had time to air out.

While the smell is unique, it is always a musty mélange that is somewhat dirty and more than a little strange.

Over the years, humidity eventually permeates a building and the soil surrounding it, no matter how well-built it might be. This provides the perfect milieu for malodors to occur.

Also, old building smell is often inherent in the walls via cracks or porous surfaces, which absorb odors.

While in most instances a new coat of paint can help reduce them, if the walls retain significant buildup it might be necessary to replace the drywall.

Paint Remove Old Building Smell

The smell also seeps into the flooring of an old building, where every type of spill leaves a trace and adds to the odor.

Old ductwork also absorbs unpleasant odors, and in many cases needs to be replaced and maintained regularly.

What constitutes old building smell syndrome does not fit any specific pattern and is somewhat controversial.

The term is often used to describe situations in which building occupants experience negative comfort levels that seem to be associated with time spent in a building, although specificity is elusive.

While true evidence is lacking, certain chemicals and physical agents found in some buildings can cause unpleasant experiences for employees or customers.

The Ultimate Commercial Trash Odor Control Products

Not to be forgotten from this disturbing roster are: new building materials (plywood, carpet glue) and fabrics (rugs, furniture) that emit toxic fumes.

Building décor and office equipment also contribute to the problem.

Many paints, carpet fibers, furniture, and even wallboard give off noxious fumes and have been known to do so for as much as years after years after installation. (They are kind of like the gift that keeps on giving.)

Equipment such as copiers and electrostatic air cleaners can also produce unpleasant odors.

Symptoms of Old Building Smell Syndrome

Some indications that a work place or building is afflicted with old building smell syndrome include: increased absenteeism, poor productivity, and many people complaining about vague but similar symptoms and their absence when people are not in the building.

A feeling of ill health pervades and can easily become a major occupational hazard. Some signs and symptoms include: headache, dizziness, nausea, eye, nose or throat irritation, dry cough, dry or itching skin, difficulty in concentration, fatigue, sensitivity to odors, hoarseness of voice, allergies, cold, flu-like symptoms, increased incidence of asthma attacks and even personality changes.

Addressing Old Building Smells With Effective Air Care

Having been in continuous operation since the 1940s, we have the most extensive amount of experience in odor control and ambient air care solutions for professional settings.

It all began with one man’s dream back in 1946 — Bob Surloff invented the very first fan-operated air-freshener dispenser and named the new brand, Air Scent. 

Our legacy of superior air care, odor neutralizing and ambient scenting products continues unabated to this day, all of which contain our patented Metazene — a highly effective odor neutralizing additive that eliminates malodorous molecules in the air.

Metazene Odor Neutralizing Additives

Our many fragrances and diffuser systems speak volumes about our versatility and innovation, which are the byproducts of extensive research, knowledge and application of the principles of industrial science.

Our 85,000-square-foot Technology Center, which is situated in suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is equipped with the most advanced tools that money can buy. These include: gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, head-space analysis, distillation, extraction and quality control technology.

Our teams and master perfumers understand both the mechanics and power of ambient scent branding and state of the art air-care and application via commercial scenting machines.

Our cutting edge, state-of-the-art scent diffusion technologies and odor-control strategies can be adjusted for any space requirement and they are the answer to conquering old building smell syndrome.

Below are some of our many available options.

The Aroma Beam Large Area Diffuser

The Aroma Beam dry vapor fragrance diffuser system is ideal for large areas up to 50,000 cubic feet. When partnered with the right fragrance, this machine can revitalize an old building and improve indoor air quality.

There are two types of cartridge systems available for this system; the Scentsia Cartridge refill and our Squair wafer refills.

The Aroma Beam Ambient Scenting Device

The former guarantees 30 full days of efficient fragrance performance, and is available in many diverse aromas. The latter is versatile because it permits the blending and matching of many elements that combine to create a unique scent.

This diffuser system comes equipped with 10 refills that promise up to 30 days of adjustable fragrance.

The Aroma One Air Freshener Diffuser

This odor-neutralizing system offers two features; namely, it annihilates airborne odors, and at the same time, offers superior, linear, aroma enrichment for any small space, particularly but not exclusively for restroom-specific malodors.

Aroma One Stand in Environment

Some of its most desirable features include: a contemporary design with optimal air flow; the capacity to hold diverse Air-Scent refill types, including bottles, liquid, can and Solid Square wafers; an easy conversion from battery to electric and innovative nesting tray features, such as the on-board drip guard, ventilated refill holder and air-flow retardant, which can lessen output if desired.

Other Scent Machine Options

We offer a variety of professional air freshener systems that work well for maintaining smaller commercial spaces such as: private offices, trash rooms, snack rooms and powder rooms. These include the following:

The Millenium Fan Air Freshener Dispenser is battery-operated and can accommodate all types of Air-Scent refills.

The Odyssey Dispenser, which is well known for its three-way ventilation that provides maximum air-flow.

The automatic Odyssey Drip Dispenser is non-battery operated and cleans and deodorizes washroom fixtures.

The Aeon Advanced Air Freshener can instantly convert from passive operation to battery-driven fan power.

In conclusion

Old building smell syndrome can effectively be addressed and resolved with a blend of cleaning efforts and with the use of our highly-effective odor control and ambient air-care products.

If you own or operate a business within a building setting, or you’re a scent marketing or Jan San company that services one, give us a call today and set your staff and/or customers free from the noxious smells that can adversely affect both human health and your company’s fragile business bottom line.


Photo Credits: Pixabay and iStock


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