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Getting smell of burning electric out of house?

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Getting smell of burning electric out of house?

Old 03-21-2021, 05:39 AM
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Default Getting smell of burning electric out of house?

Long story short, my wife and I took our dog for a walk in our woods yesterday afternoon, we were gone about 30 minutes. Came back to a house filled with smoke and it smelled electrical. I immediately shut off the main breaker and went on a hunt but couldn't find anything. Smoke still seemed to be present after opening windows, so fearing the worst, we called the fire department. They told us to close windows and get out, and they arrived about 5 minutes later. After using a FLIR to try and find hotspots, and not finding any, we turned power back on and searched again. Finally narrowed it down to a circuit board on our heat pump air handler that fried and melted a bunch of wires attached to it. Breaker has been shut off since.

Anyhoo, I am going to have an HVAC guy come out today and take a look, but the smell in the house is pretty bad, even after having windows open for several hours and fans running yesterday. It seems to have permeated everything. Unfortunately an appraiser is coming out this week because we're in the middle of refinancing, so I'd like if the house didn't smell like it was burning when he gets here.

Any ideas?

Here's a pic of the fried circuit board:

Old 03-21-2021, 05:54 AM
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Close call right there.

I am afraid your gonna be smelling that for a while. The insulation in the duct work and the air handler is most likely permeated with the smell.

I had a fire on my boat generator circuit board and I smelled it for months. The smoke got into the insulation in the sound shield and took a long to to go away.
Old 03-21-2021, 06:08 AM
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Ozone generator?
Old 03-21-2021, 06:12 AM
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Couple more photos...






Old 03-21-2021, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by acme54321 View Post
Ozone generator?
This
Old 03-21-2021, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by 20biminitwist View Post
Close call right there.

I am afraid your gonna be smelling that for a while. The insulation in the duct work and the air handler is most likely permeated with the smell.

I had a fire on my boat generator circuit board and I smelled it for months. The smoke got into the insulation in the sound shield and took a long to to go away.
Thanks for this, though not happy to hear that it will stick around for a while
Old 03-21-2021, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by acme54321 View Post
Ozone generator?
You have to leave the house for this, right? Do you know how long? I have two cats, a dog, and parrot in the house, not sure what I'd do with them.
Old 03-21-2021, 06:52 AM
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Anytime there is a fire the associated smoke and water damage can be substantial.

There are professional services that deal with this. Your gonna be looking at a pretty good bill to repair the a/c and as bad is it may seem you might need to think about getting your home owners insurance involved.

That smoke from an electrical fire is pretty pungent and most likely toxic. I doubht it is harmful at this point but it may irritate both you and your pets to some degree.

Maybe a pro on here will chime in but my experience with fire/smoke damage in large commercial HVAC ain't been good.

I remember wearing a nice leather jacket into a smoke filled bar one time and in one hour of exposure that Jacket stunk until I had it professionally cleaned.

You may want to take some clothing out of the closet and bag it up for a day and then open and see what you smell. If it stinks like your house you have an issue.
Old 03-21-2021, 07:00 AM
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Does servpro or some company similar exist near you? Smoke remediation companies can likely do something. If they can get smell of cat piss and cigarettes out, I am sure they can do this.
Old 03-21-2021, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by acme54321 View Post
Ozone generator?
This. You can rent the commercial variety from Sunbelt. Once HVAC is back running get enough units to cover the entire impacted square footage, set them on a long cycle with the HVAC off, and fan in the run position. This will get it into the duct work. Do note, it's pretty tough on leather.

Edit to add: You and all pets will need to be out of the house for the duration of the cycle.
Old 03-21-2021, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by SOSC View Post
You have to leave the house for this, right? Do you know how long? I have two cats, a dog, and parrot in the house, not sure what I'd do with them.
Yes, you have to leave the house. Turns 02 into 03.

They work very well for smoke. I'll put mine in a rental for 24 hrs after chronic smokers have left. Air smells like after a lightning storm. I air the house out with portable fans for 10 mins before I go in.

Mine cost $50 and is better than the rentals. However, if the smell has permeated into porous surfaces like carpet, insulation etc. the smell will return somewhat.
Old 03-21-2021, 07:21 AM
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I would agree you need a professional company to come out and remove whatever is saturated with smoke, replace those items and then do the Ozone machine. You will need your insurance company involved and plan on being in a hotel for a couple of weeks.
Old 03-21-2021, 07:27 AM
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If you can't get the smell out, its probably cleaning, repainting, and all new furniture. At least thats how its handled with a puff back. Could be big bucks. Might put your refinance at risk...
Old 03-21-2021, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by acme54321 View Post
Ozone generator?
They use ozone to get rid of house fire smell, probably your best bet
Old 03-21-2021, 12:44 PM
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I don't have a serious suggestion, but pretty sure my sister in law could cook a few things that would drown that out..... not positive it's better but would be "different".

We had a wild one about 5 years ago, one of the dual belts came apart on the alternator from a mfg defect, caught the main ground wire and dead shorted the entire wire loom. Managed to get boat back up and running but every ground wire in the cabin was charcoal. Left every window open for days until it finally dissipated, still get a whiff of it from under the dash from time to time....

Hope it dissipates soon what a nauseating smell.
Old 03-21-2021, 12:48 PM
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I can’t speak for the ozone generator, but reading the replies it sounds like that will only clean the air. I’d try febreezing all porous surfaces. Febreeze actually neutralizes smells (not just covering them up with another odor). Also, if you plan to run your HVAC fan, I’d buy an activated charcoal filter.
Old 03-21-2021, 01:44 PM
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Thank you for all of the suggestions. We did a deep cleaning of the house today, and used Odo Ban on all porous surfaces. It seems to have helped immensely. My big concern now is the flex duct under the house, which we just had replaced 4 months ago for about $2,500 due to a mouse getting inside and dieing. All of the air registers are closed off, but when you open them the smell is pretty strong.

At you guy's suggestion I left a message for our insurance company today and will follow up tomorrow. I've never made any claim with them and have been customers since 2003 (auto 2003, homeowners 2011, and boat 2017), so I am hoping they are kind to us.
​​​​
Old 03-21-2021, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryan H. View Post
They use ozone to get rid of house fire smell, probably your best bet
I used one on my wife’s rental condo after we had Indian tenants(medical students from India ) who were there for three years. High rise building. I set it and forget it, let it air out a few hours and no real smell. $250 unit on Amazon. If it could tame that smell I would give it a shot.
Old 03-21-2021, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by bjm9818 View Post
I used one on my wife’s rental condo after we had Indian tenants(medical students from India ) who were there for three years. High rise building. I set it and forget it, let it air out a few hours and no real smell. $250 unit on Amazon. If it could tame that smell I would give it a shot.

Curry........
Old 03-21-2021, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by usernamewastaken View Post
Curry........
Yep.

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