Monday, August 1, 2011

Aromatic hydrocarbon outgassing

OK, so as you may know, the Midwest has basically been baked for about a month now under a heat wave like few others in history. Here's the unexpected consequence: even though the carriage house is air conditioned (with four small window air conditioners, which do a surprisingly fantastic job for only about $100 a month), the heat and humidity is still steaming out all manner of aromatic hydrocarbons.

That apartment was built in 1945/1946, so the only aromatic hydrocarbon worth talking about is the redolent odor of sixty years of stale tobacco smoke.

Now, I have to tell you, tobacco smoke only adsorbs to a certain range of surfaces, and the plaster walls are not among those surfaces - except inside the interior walls, which are an early form of plasterboard on wooden studs, with plaster on top. So there was a certain amount of stench wafting from all the outlets, particularly the old-construction boxes I installed myself (because they had more gap around them). Caulk, some ozone treatment, and a judicious amount of urethane foam and a free hand with the Zinsser 1-2-3 primer (which, I believe I have stated before, I love like life itself) solved most of that, although the effort is still ongoing. Which is good, because, for example, painting the bathroom cabinet was on my mighty list for the carriage house [a brief aside here: some items on that list are checked off! But I've been too busy to write.].

Once the outlets were solved, we noticed that all the cracks behind trim around the windows and doors stank (bare wood inside). The shelves in the hall closet stank.

But the place that only started outgassing yesterday (that I noticed) is the fridge nook.

So - and this is really disgusting - I'm sitting here working, and the ice cubes in my Coke taste like cigarettes.