Odor Removal After Flooding

Unfortunately, it seems flooding is becoming a more regular phenomenon across the US. While typical causes are still a reality, burst pipes, leaky roofs, and climate change are driving an increase in flood risk across the country. With an increase in flooding comes an increase in damage. Now, more families are having to respond to damage caused by flooding, including the odors left behind. 

Water Damage Produces Odors

Floodwater stinks! Water damage and flooding are putrid, rancid, reeking, foul, rank, spoiled, stinky, and yucky. The smell is hard to remove and it often drifts into surrounding properties and areas. Floodwaters can carry these oppressive odors for a few reasons.


  • Sewage. Oftentimes sewage escapes during flooding. This happens when the plumbing in the home backs up and then overflows. It also happens when outside septic tanks become overly saturated and overflow. In any of these moments, a stark odor can overwhelm any home.

  • Chemicals. When chemicals mix in with floodwaters it also creates unwelcome odors. 

  • The Smell of Stagnant Water. Stagnant water carries a naturally sour smell. 

  • Mold and Decomposing Material. Flood waters can activate a decaying smell of mold and decomposing material. Mold is ever–present, always in the air, but when it begins to give off an odor, it’s a problem.


When you find yourself in a “stinky scenario,” what options do you have and what can you do?


Addressing the Foul Odors of Flooding and Water Damage

When addressing flood damage there are two ways forward, addressing it yourself and calling a professional. 


It is tempting to see the extent of flood damage and think, “I got this.” In some small scenarios that are perhaps the right way forward, but addressing the odors of water damage is not a simple assignment. Addressing odors from flooding requires experience, skill, and tools. In other words, you should call a professional.


The goals for odor removal are simple and will help you create an action plan to face the damages. 


All odors have a CAUSE and a SOURCE. If you only address the source and not the cause, you’re not going to fully remove the odor from your home. The cause of odor, in this case, is moisture and water, the source of the smell is whatever material was affected by this moisture source. 


  1. Addressing the Cause

Since the cause of the water damage is moisture and water, the goal is to remove the water from the property. Time matters in this scenario. The quicker you’re able to remove the water and moisture from the property, the better you’re able to limit secondary damage. In other words, you’re able to prevent the water from spreading farther than it already has. 


Tools that remove water are pumps, dehumidifiers, and vacuums.


One of the mistakes many people make is thinking that once the water and moisture are unseen, their problem is over. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case because humidity, moisture, and standing water can hide behind walls and remain hidden. In fact, this is a major cause of odor at a property after flooding and water damage occurred. When a flooded property is only partially addressed, odors stay.


  1. Addressing Source

Another aspect of addressing odor damage is addressing the source of the smell. If there is an odor, there is a source. The best way to remove the odor is to remove its source.


Hard materials are less likely to hold odors, while odors cling to soft materials easily. To address foul odors in a flooded property, you need to address all the soft materials at that property. This means you may have to remove or clean the carpets, the upholstery, clothing, cardboard materials, papers, and even the walls themselves.


Sometimes the material cannot be fixed. In that case, it needs to be thrown away. In other cases, the material is easily cleaned and deodorized. 


Another tool to address odors at a previously flooded property is an air scrubber. An air scrubber is a device that removes air pollution, VOCs, surface contaminants, pet dander, odors, and dust. It helps provide a cleaner, healthier, and more efficient home.


If you suspect suspicious odors because of flooding, call our team at AdvantaClean! We can assess the property and get to work on odor removal!