Cigarette Smoke Smell

Old 08-02-11, 09:26 AM
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Cigarette Smoke Smell

Not sure which forum to post in, but I'll try here. I work as a handyman in retirement and have a customer in a condo who smokes. Neighbors in adjoining units are complaining of the smell getting into their condos. I believe that each unit has its own self-contained forced air furnace and A/C. I plan to seal pipe and wire penetrations with urethane foam, but my customer is asking about a charcoal filter in the HVAC system. I have never heard of this. Does it exist? If it does, it might make sense to install these in the condos being offended as well as the offender. Thanks for any help out there.
Old 08-02-11, 09:46 AM
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Yes, it does exist, but my experience is that filter does not help at all.
Old 08-02-11, 09:51 AM
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The bottom line is air is moving from your customer's condo into the others and you seem to grasp that and be on top of it.

I don't think any kind of filter is going to make much, if any, difference in this situation.
Old 08-02-11, 01:04 PM
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Thanks for the Replies

I examined the unit today and I think the complainant is wrong. I did verify that each unit has its own forced air system, with only 3 of 12 having A/C. There is no air circulation connection between units and further, the complainant is on the other side of a firewall from the smoker. The smoker believes that she is the only one who admits to smoking, so she is the suspect. The smoker also told me that she has held incense next to one of her air returns to see if that prompted a complaint. It did not. Have I made my case counselor? Thanks to all. This is a great board.
Old 08-02-11, 01:34 PM
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In the energy auditing business, one of the tests we can run is air leakage between adjoining units, and firewall or not, they ALL leak. Poured concrete is better than blocks, but the walls often times fit around the outside of the firewall. Plumbing and electrical may pass between units in places we can't see.

If you believe it is sealed and you want to put the issue to rest, hire an energy auditor who can depressurize the smokers unit and with permission, they can measure any pressure change in adjacent or other units. There are gas diffusion tests also, that can be conducted where a test sample can be released and tested for in other units to see if it comes through under natural pressure.

I'm married to a beagle (hope she never reads this). but she can detect cigarettes at extreme distances. You will need a perfect seal to keep others happy.

One more option would be a radon type vent or similar fan. These are modest in size, quiet, long lasting, and low cost to run. Installed as a continuous running exhaust fan it might be able to stop any smoke smell from migrating into other units.

I'm done
Old 08-02-11, 03:05 PM
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As said, some are very aware of the presence of cigarette smoke and your customer may be in denial if they don't accept any responsibility for the traveling nature of their odors.

There are other means of transfer, forced air is one but a difference in temperature can cause air flow between spaces even humidity difference can cause air transfer.
For example, if the victim neighbor runs a tight house with a/c or a well working dehumidifier and the smoker has a much higher humidity and temperature in their unit, it is possible for the smell to transfer with the humidity through even the smallest of gaps!
Old 08-02-11, 05:09 PM
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Great Discussion

I always learn new things on this board. In this case the smoker and complainer do not share any common walls. Their units are diagonally opposed, being separated by an open air stairwell and firewall. There have been no complaints from the directly adjacent units. All smokers are in denial from the standpoint that they understand the risks, but it won't affect them. I quit January 28, 1979, but whose counting? I am really pious. A final data point is that when the complainant griped, the smoker had been on vacation for ten days. I am sure the complainant smells smoke, but I really doubt that this is the source. I have enjoyed the informative posts. Thanks.

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