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Old 11-02-2010, 02:00 PM   #1
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


Hi,

We just had popcorn removed from about 1500 sq. ft. of ceilings in our home by a drywall company. They also repaired/re-taped/re-mudded the old drywall, and re-primed/repainted as well. The results look very nice, but we now have some odd things happening, two weeks after completion:

1. We notice a faint "funky" smell when we enter the house. It's not overpowering, and we can't smell it after we've been in there a few minutes. We noticed this smell, but much stronger, while the work was being done, but figured it was 'normal' for a drywall job.

2. If we're in the house for an extended period of time, some of our clothes end up smelling exactly like vomit! Same thing if we leave clothes lying around the house. (This is the most concerning thing!)

Any ideas? Is this "normal" for two weeks after removing old popcorn? We're hoping it's just the very light residual dust that was covering the walls/floors. We're wiping down everything with vinegar and airing out the house as much as we can.

Any advice?

Thanks

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Old 11-02-2010, 02:30 PM   #2
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


How did they remove the popcorn? That seems very odd.

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Old 11-02-2010, 02:50 PM   #3
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


I didn't watch the entire process, but from what they explained (and what we saw at end of each day):

Day 1: Hung plastic over every single wall in the home, sprayed water on popcorn with a hose, scraped dampened popcorn from ceiling, removed popcorn debris from home.

Day 2: Re-taped/re-mudded/patched as necessary. Turned on forced air heat to aid drying.

Day 3: Sanded joints. Sprayed very light orange peel texture.

Day 3 or 4?: Primed (with their primer), painted two coats of Olympic Premium No-VOC ceiling paint (we provided.)

Day 4 or 5?: Remove plastic, clean up most (but not all) of remaining dust. Replaced light fixtures.

From day 1 or 2 (can't remember), after being in the house, when we would get in the car to leave, we'd look at each other and go, "What is that smell!" But, being unfamiliar with drywall work, we assumed that was just how drywall dust smelled... now, not so sure!

Last edited by mofo83; 11-02-2010 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 03:03 PM   #4
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


When you say they wet it down with a hose I would assume you dont mean a garden hose right?

My concern would be that they got the drywall too wet and they may have developed mold in this process.

Typically you get a garden sprayer (those small white containers with a pump) to wet the ceilings prior to removal.
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Old 11-02-2010, 03:35 PM   #5
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


My wife and just did ours and used a garden hose. Its not what you think though... we used a nozzle on the end that had a "mist" setting and it actually worked very well. As far as your house goes, what did they cover the floor with (or at all)?. It appears they let the drywall dry long enough or the paint wouldn't be sticking well so I was thinking that the flooring is causing the odor. I can't imagine they used any special chemicals but you might want to ask.

I'm probably going to have to side with wnabcptrNH, in that you have some kind of mold build up either in the ceiling or floor. How long after they finished did you notice this smell?

BTW, this was one of the least fun projects I've ever done
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:30 PM   #6
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


I know the floors were all covered, I think with the same plastic that covered the wall.

I am pretty sure they used a garden hose with an attachment that allowed them to "mist" the popcorn, as the floors didn't seem very wet at all.

We noticed the smell early on, while they were still working. I can't remember if it was day 1, 2, etc. It was initially stronger – we would get in the car after being in the house, and go"Wow, what IS that smell!" But, we figured it was just drywall junk trapped in our shoes or something... we didn't know what a job like that was 'supposed' to smell like.

As far as mold goes... the house doesn't smell "earthy" or "musty," which is how everyone seems to describe mold. I can't really explain it... it's just... "funky." And I can only really smell it right when I walk in the house. I put my nose up to the ceiling in a bunch of spots, and I smell nothing. I smelled our saltillo tile, nothing. I haven't smelled the bamboo floors yet, though.

I've been doing a bunch of research, and here is what I've read from some other people:

1. Drywall mud (in the bucket) can get moldy/bacteria and smell.
2. Drywall texturing compound (in the bucket) can get bacteria and smell.
3. Primer (in the can) can "go bad" and smell sour.
4. Paint (in the can) can "go bad" and smell sour.
5. Drywall can get moldy if too wet.

I'm leaning towards 1,2 or 3... but everyone I've asked about this says they'd have to have no sense of smell not to notice as they put it up.

We're hoping that when they took down the popcorn (or when they sanded) it just released a bunch of smelly old dust into the air, which, even though it was well plastic-ed off, got everywhere, AND got circulated around because they had the heat on.

We wiped everything down with vinegar, are going to replace our air filter, left some baking soda around...

Last edited by mofo83; 11-02-2010 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:58 PM   #7
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


You mentioned u had forced air heating in your house. Have you changed the filter in the furnace? The filter may be filled with the smelly dust and constantly circulating it through the house. If you change it and it still smells, the smelly dust may also be laying around the duct work.
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Old 11-02-2010, 05:08 PM   #8
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


Yeah, we thought about that. Going to get new pre-filters tonight. The other filters are the "electronic" type, so I think we just need to wash them off. We also have a big HEPA filter... I'll look into replacing that.

I'm sure there is dust in the ducts... Hopefully replacing the filter more-than-regularly from now on will help with that. (Getting them cleaned is pricey! Maybe I can find some DIY cleaning techniques!)

Thanks
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Old 11-06-2010, 08:43 PM   #9
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


I'm betting on the primer or paint. Have you asked the contractor about the smell?
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:54 AM   #10
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


Yeah, we finally got hold of the contractor, he said that the scraped-off popcorn texture, after getting wet and warm, sometimes smells, and that changing our furnace filters should clear it up.

BUT... we did clean our electronic furnace filters, and replaced the old damaged prefilters, ran the furnace for a few days in a row, kept all the exhaust fans on, opened some windows... and the smell persists. We are also going to have our furnace serviced, as the clogged electric filters allowed a lot of junk to get into the heating element of the furnace.

It might be getting fainter, but I think we're also just getting more used to it.

I'm also starting to thing it's either their primer, or the paint we provided.

Looks like there are a few posts on the Internet about smelly paint, especially No-VOC paint, like we had them use...

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=988759

http://questions.house-painting-info...ompletion.html

IF that is the case, I guess we would have to re-prime and re-paint. Or, maybe Clear B-I-N might work right over the paint?

Last edited by mofo83; 11-08-2010 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 11-09-2010, 11:32 AM   #11
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


Actually... I wasn't thinking clearly when I made that last post!

I am fairly certain that it is bad drywall TEXTURE that is causing the smell. (We both think we remember smelling something funky before the paint went up... so... probably isn't the paint or primer.)

I found a piece of painters tape that had been covered in the texture, primer and paint. One side was solidly covered with paint, the other side was flaking a bit. The side that was solidly covered smelled faintly, the side with the flaking (where the underlying texture compound was exposed) smelled strongly of the odor in question.

Now, my only question is... what next? How can I 'prove' to the contractor that it wasn't the paint I supplied or that the old drywall ceilings don't just smell? It's pretty clear to ME now... but it's still a "guess," I suppose.

And, I need to figure out if it will stop smelling, or if I need to seal it with something?

Thanks!
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Old 05-25-2012, 03:49 PM   #12
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


Hi,

I was wondering if you ever found out the problem with the smell? We have a similar problem....a musty odor and its been 3 weeks since they removed the popcorn ceiling and painted and primered. It still smells pretty bad. Please let me know if the contractor did anything for you or if it went away.

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Originally Posted by mofo83 View Post
Actually... I wasn't thinking clearly when I made that last post!

I am fairly certain that it is bad drywall TEXTURE that is causing the smell. (We both think we remember smelling something funky before the paint went up... so... probably isn't the paint or primer.)

I found a piece of painters tape that had been covered in the texture, primer and paint. One side was solidly covered with paint, the other side was flaking a bit. The side that was solidly covered smelled faintly, the side with the flaking (where the underlying texture compound was exposed) smelled strongly of the odor in question.

Now, my only question is... what next? How can I 'prove' to the contractor that it wasn't the paint I supplied or that the old drywall ceilings don't just smell? It's pretty clear to ME now... but it's still a "guess," I suppose.

And, I need to figure out if it will stop smelling, or if I need to seal it with something?

Thanks!
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Old 06-01-2012, 06:00 PM   #13
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Odor after popcorn removal... help!


Joint compound or texture (that has been mixed and sitting in a container) WILL sour and smell. It usually takes several weeks or months to do so (I guess depending on the manufacture date). I sometimes have joint compound I've mixed for "stipple" patches that sits for a while and goes bad. I toss it. I have had "popcorn" texture do the same, though I don't usually keep it around since I rarely use it these days. Orange peel texture mix would be the same, it could be they had some left over and used it. I would think the odor would dissipate and be "sealed" by the paint.....

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