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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Townhouse was built in the 80s. exterior walls are concrete but floor between levels is 2x12s yellow pine. We did some remodeling and just moved in about month ago. Brand new AC and duct work. Place has been cleaned a dozen times.. it's clean. But we've been having trouble sleeping waking up with dry mouth, dry eyes and body aches.. everyhing goes away once we wake up and get out.

I thought it might be mold so I opened a 1x1 hole under the bathroom where we are sleeping. Other than a strange sweet smell, it looks pretty clean. The only strange thing is how yellow the beams and insulation looks. I sprayed one the beams and a tar like yellow film comes off the beams. I did the test on some 6 month old yellow pine and see no residue.

Any way to explain this? Inside smokers smoke penetrating through the drywall and into the studs? is this possible? This house looks like it had been painted at least 3 times previously.



 

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Very unusual to have low humidity inside in the summer in Florida. I don't like your description of the yellow coloring although old fiberglass insulation can be yellow.

You can pick up an inexpensive humidity gauge but I'm fairly certain that isn't the cause of the dry throats. I also would not expect the sweet smell you describe and some molds may produce various odors (I googled that).

Also Google "symptoms of mold in my house" and see if any sound familiar.

Bud
 

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To test for nicotine, place a paper towel below a beam then using something like a eye dropper or a cup with a pour spout, allow a small stream of water to run down the beam and drip onto the white paper towel. A few eye droppers of water may be required but not usually. Nicotine is so water soluble the water will immediately spot the towel yellow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
To test for nicotine, place a paper towel below a beam then using something like a eye dropper or a cup with a pour spout, allow a small stream of water to run down the beam and drip onto the white paper towel. A few eye droppers of water may be required but not usually. Nicotine is so water soluble the water will immediately spot the towel yellow.
I can never seem to post pics from google drive on here. they show up in edit mode, but not when I look at the post later.

But yes, that describes what I am seeing. Yellow substances on a paper towel. I looks like nicotine I've seen on walls. But what is not clear is how nicotine penetrated drywall and layers of paint?? That ceiling was covered in popcorn. Can any further test be done?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
One other point of curiosity. only the wood has the yellow residue. Inside the walls, attics and ceilings, the back side of the drywall (paper) and the metal studs have no yellow residue or nicotine. Also, To test that it's not just in an isolated spot, I attached a wet cloth to an 8 foot poll and sure enough I can pick up the same yellow residue 8 feet away on multiple beams with a mild abrasion.

Any formal test I can do (inexpensively) to check air quality and to confirm this substance is in fact nicotine?

Can you see my pics?

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here are the pics. What is very strange is that nothing else up there has the stains. Not the paper inside of the drywall, not the metal studs, not the power lines or the coax cables. If cigarette smoke got in there, why would it only stick to the wood? Does wood have special nicotine or tar absorbing properties. Or could it be that this wood was originally treated with something 30 years ago that is now bleeding out?

Lavash Tortilla


Wood stain Wood Hardwood Plywood Room
 

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retired painter
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Raw wood will absorb nicotine easier than a painted substrate. Nicotine can usually be washed off of painted drywall, just not always worth the effort. That 2x4 almost looks like it had a stain or something applied to it but I sure wouldn't know why.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
pic orientation is wrong and hard to tell, but that's a 2x12. It does not appear to be stain and whatever it is is also on the plywood floor above it. It comes off with water. it does not appear to be stain but whatever it is seems to be on all the framing in the property. the walls were sealed and painted when we bought the unit. there was a decorative film on the back window of cannibals plants. What on earth could this be... residue from Weed? Meth? Is this pine? maybe it's another species?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
more pics. could this have been somthing that came from the top, like animal urine. I was on the subfloor and it looked clean, dry and had no smell. there was just one spot that look like maybe something happen, and that is evident from below here.

Pipe Plumbing Plumbing fixture Pipe insulation Drain

Wood Wood stain Plywood Hardwood Floor


BTW, that treated 2x4 in the back that appears to have been used during concrete work was original and does not appear to have the stains.
 

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retired framer
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Looks like doug fir to me. I the drying stage water bring stuff out of wood and leaves it on the surface. A test to prove anything would be expensive I think, If it is only on the one product I would blame it on that product. What ever it is it will be sealed up when you repair the drywall.
 

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retired painter
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If you are really concerned you could coat it with a pigmented shellac like Zinnser's BIN that would seal it well. Used to be what was always used to seal porous materials when rehabbing from fire/smoke damage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Unable to reach any of them to clean or coat it. Even when sealed the room has a faint and distinct smell. It would not really bother me, except I wake up up with dry mouth, irritated eyes and mild kidney pain when I sleep in that particular room. Room has brand new floors, baseboards, frames and walls were washed with a TSP/Vinegar/Baking soda solution, coated with BIN primer and painted with thick Behr Marquee paint. I suspect air quality in the room is bad. My concern is that is tar or some other chemical left behind from smoking, pot or even meth cooking.
 

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What I earlier thought might be brush marks now looks like it's just the grain of the wood. There are water stains but as long as they are dry, that isn't anything to worry about.

Spraying a pigmented shellac would seal everything but not sure it would be needed once the ceiling is drywalled and painted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
What I earlier thought might be brush marks now looks like it's just the grain of the wood. There are water stains but as long as they are dry, that isn't anything to worry about.

Spraying a pigmented shellac would seal everything but not sure it would be needed once the ceiling is drywalled and painted.
I would not able to get to all the beam, yes everything will be closed off and painted, but as we know smells seem to always find their way in.
 
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