If the source of the odor has not been eliminated, the odor will return!
Now that the mystery has been solved, let’s discuss some additional odor control tips that will help you avoid costly callbacks.
Returning to a job site to satisfy a client who is not pleased with the results of your first effort is always costly.
An unhappy customer can put a knot in your stomach and ruin your entire day. It probably disrupts your schedule for the day as well. There is lost travel time in addition to the time required to correct the situation. Add in the cost of products that might be required, and callbacks are a losing proposition.
Let’s look at some procedures a cleaning technician can utilize so the job is done right the first time.
Keep expectations realistic
This applies to both you and your client. When I stop at McDonald’s for a cheeseburger, I don’t expect a steak with a baked potato on the side. Is the homeowner expecting 100 percent odor control but is only willing to pay for a minimal service?
Sometimes our desire to be a hero and deliver nothing but the best service causes us to promise — or at least imply — that we will completely solve an odor problem by only cleaning the carpet, although the source of the odor extends well beyond the face fibers.
Don’t expect an ounce of cure…
… to solve a pound of problem. Consider urine contamination as an example.
A small dog or cat weighing five pounds or less will eliminate about two ounces of urine each time. If the animal urinates only twice a day, it amounts to well over 11 gallons per year. If the animal concentrates that into a small area or even several small areas, which many of them do, then the problem can be quite extensive.
Now think about the case where the animal is a Great Dane who considers the living room carpet to be his own special sandbox. The contamination gets worse when there are multiple animals in the home.
Even though the homeowner may think that a “spritz” of some wonderful formula onto the carpet after you clean it will take care of the entire odor problem, it just won’t happen. You may need to think in terms of gallons rather than cups.
Some odor control products require contact with the source of odor. Use enough to reach all the possible locations from which the odor may be originating.
Allow time for the products to work
There are several approaches to dealing with odors. Most of them take some time to fully accomplish the task.
Enzymes need to “digest” organic materials, such as urine. Depending upon the volume of material to be broken down, this can be anywhere from several minutes to a couple of days.
Disinfectants and sanitizers require contact time as well.
Ozone generators, hydroxyl machines and vapor diffusers all produce forms of odor control that must diffuse and reach all the places where odor resides.
Don’t overlook potential sources
Clients and even technicians tend to focus attention on the carpet. True, gravity often pulls malodorous material into the carpet. But any porous surface can absorb and later release odor molecules.
Some commonly overlooked materials include upholstered furniture, curtains and drapes, acoustical ceiling tile, unfinished wood surfaces in cabinets and drawers, filters for HVAC and range hoods, to name a few.
It can be difficult to locate exactly where odors are coming from. Air currents tend to mix all sources of odors together. When in doubt about where an odor is coming from, turn off ceiling fans, HVAC or anything else that will stir up the air. Close windows and doors. Leave for a few hours. When you return, try not to disturb the air. Odors will likely be closer to their point of origin.
Because females tend to have a more acute sense of smell, it helps if a woman makes this inspection to identify the odor’s source.
Use plenty of ventilation
Decomposition of organic material results in unpleasant odors. Bio-enzymes and oxidizers speed up this natural process.
Temporarily, there may be even more odor molecules in the air while these products work.
Whatever process is used, there is foul-smelling, stale air to be moved out. Replacing and diluting this with fresh air is necessary to clearing odors from the air.
Not an easy task
Many odor control jobs require additional trips to the job site. You can charge for these trips if it is part of the agreed-upon job. That’s why a proper inspection is so crucial.
The odor control process is not a simple one. You need patience. You need buy-in from the homeowner on what it will take in terms of time and money to fix the problem completely.
Spraying a fragrance to cover up unpleasant odors is seldom the solution. Take your time. Use the right equipment to locate the odor and the right tools and processes to eliminate the odor and — yes, it can be done — eliminate a costly callback.
Scott Warrington has more than 40 years of experience in the carpet cleaning industry and related fields. He serves as the technical support specialist for Bridgepoint Systems and Interlink Supply. He can be contacted at ScottW@Bridgepoint.com.