Question

How do I get rid of the chemical smell of vinyl and plastics?

Asked by Cat
Vandergrift, PA

Some vinyl is hard to avoid. I can't wear my new eyeglasses because of the vinyl smell of the nose pads. I can't get a new shower curtain, and I had to leave a new rubber bathmat outdoors all summer in order to use it. How do I get rid of these odors faster?

Answer

Danny Kelly

Answered by Danny Kelly

Charlotte, NC

Kelly McArdle Construction

March 2, 2010

I can't help with your eyeglasses, but fresh air ventilation should help with the others. There are essentially three types of fresh air ventilation: exhaust only, supply only, and a balanced approach. The amount of fresh air required is determined by a standard -- ASHRAE 62.2 -- that most HVAC contractors should be familiar with.

Exhaust only.  This is the cheapest and easiest to do. Basically you install a bath fan to run continuously and you rely on leaks in the building envelope to allow fresh air in. Panasonic makes some great fans for this, that use very little energy and are very quiet. They also have literature on choosing the correct size fan. This can be installed by an electrician for a few hundred dollars. The downside is since you are relying on leaks in the building envelope, you cannot control where you are drawing this air from. It may be from your attic or crawl space, which is not going to be very clean air.

Supply only. This option is a little better. You install a small duct from the exterior to the return side of your HVAC unit. This is a bit of an improvement since you are controlling where you are getting the air from. The downside to this is you only get the fresh air exchange when the HVAC unit is running, so there is not much intake on mild days when the HVAC does not run. You are also bringing in untempered air. This will need to be installed by a licensed HVAC contractor and should be a few hundred dollars.  Check the directory here on GreenHomeGuide to locate a green HVAC contractor near you.

Balanced air. This is the best option but also the most expensive. Depending on your location and climate, you would install an ERV or HRV (Energy Recovery Ventilator or Heat Recovery Ventilator). This is a small mechanical unit that brings in fresh air and exhausts the same amount of air for a balanced approach. The upside is that these units have a core where the conditioned air leaving the building crosses the air coming in and tempers it as it comes into the home. The ERVs also exchange moisture. This can be a stand-alone system (recommended) or tied in to the HVAC system. There are several types starting at $500 and going up to $2,000, so you'll need to do some research as to what works best for you.

Tagged In: home air quality, pvc safety

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