Lucky, Both Buyer and Seller in Elk Grove Village, IL

What is your advice regarding buying a home previously owned by heavy smokers?

Asked by Lucky, Elk Grove Village, IL Sat Mar 20, 2010

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Lyn Sims, Agent, Schaumburg, IL
Sat Mar 20, 2010
From past experience you will have to remove all draperies, blinds and carpet thruout the home. Professional painters can seal the walls or prep before paint with TSP cleaner. Depending on how long the smokers have been there you also might have the furnace vents cleaned.

There are many cleaners available for pet odors, smoking, etc. that you can also investigate to help you with minimal work.

Good luck I've included a link with stuff I've used.

Lyn Sims (847)230-7324
1 vote
Michelle Min…, Other Pro, Arcadia, CA
Sun Apr 24, 2011
Lucky: I recently wrote a blog post about this very thing. I'm adding the link below.

1.Remove any soft surfaces like drapes, upholstery, carpet and wall paper. You may be able to remove the odor from drapery by having them dry cleaned, but you will never be able to totally remove smoking odors from carpet or upholstered furniture no matter how many times you have them cleaned. Wallpaper is porous and absorbs odors. Remove it as you cannot remove smoking odors from it 100%.

2. Have the ducts cleaned and change any furnace filters.
3. Paint every painted surface, using Kilz as a primer. If you just paint with no primer, you will get nicotine stains seeping through within a few months.
4. Change all light bulbs and tubes. Nicotine coats all surfaces and as the light bulbs heat up, they act as fragrance diffusers of smoking odors.

I hope this helps!
0 votes
Sharon Hardi…, , Schaumburg, IL
Sun Apr 24, 2011
If the smoking odors do NOT bother you, go for it! If the smoking odors do bother you, think long and hard if the asking price is worth the cost of eliminating the problem to your satisfaction.

Hope this helps!
0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Sat Mar 20, 2010
Good advice below. Basically, be prepared to get rid of any fabric or cloth items in the home--carpets, drapes, window coverings, etc. Thorough washing and cleaning might work, but it often doesn't.

Dan's advice about encapsulating the odor is good. However, before you do that, thoroughly wash and clean all the hard surfaces. If you use Kilz--a very good product, by the way--use the original formula.

I've also had some success with ozone machines. You have to use a heavy-duty one--you can rent or buy them. Check with your Realtor--he or she may have a source. Then you have to blast the home. They work well on things like cooking odors and smoke. (They don't work as well on things like cat urine. I know; I've tried!) I bought one from this company: There's also a lot of good information on their web site.

The main point is that you can't just cover the odor up. You have to remove anything that's capturing the odor. You have to clean and then encapsulate hard surfaces. And you have to get to areas (with an ozone machine) that either you overlooked or you couldn't reach.

Having said all that, if the house is a good one--meets all your requirements--and it's priced low enough to compensate for the time and effort you'll put into getting rid of the tars, the odor, etc.--certainly consider it.

Hope that helps.
0 votes
Bob Brandt, Agent, Schaumburg, IL
Sat Mar 20, 2010
If you do not want to take up smoking yourself, you will need to go to the extreme to get that ashtray smell gone. New carpet, paint, curtains, bleach, sprays, ionizers etc.... It depends on your tolerance.
Most of my buyers just pass on smokers homes.
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0 votes
Dan Chase, Home Buyer, Texas City, TX
Sat Mar 20, 2010
My cousin did that. To make the house usable she had to replace all carpets and paint every single wall and ceiling with killz. There was no way to clean it enough to get rid of the smoke smell. It had to be encapsulated behind paint or removed as in throwing out all of the carpeting.

Unless you want to completely redo the house find another. It could be weeks getting all of that done and you feeling sick from the smell all of that time. Then you have more time waiting for the paint smell to go away.
0 votes
Harriet Maj, Agent, Oak Forest, IL
Sat Mar 20, 2010
Does the home meet all your requirements, e.g. location, setup, price? If so, airing out the home, painting & a good cleaning will take care of the smoke smell. If there are carpets instead of hardwood floors, a good professional wash, or maybe your even thinking of replacing them. Its no more cleaning than you would do to any other home you would be buying. Don't forget window the treatments! Previous clients of mine had purchased a similiar situation home, hired a cleaning service, and were very happy with the results .Best of luck to you.

Don't forget to change the furnace filters.
0 votes
To fix a smokers house properly so you do not smell the smoke when it rains & the buyer does not buy a home they would have passed on, is expensive.

1) Have all vents professionally cleaned
2) All carpets, underlay etc removed. Scrub the subfloor
3) All drapes & blinds removed & discarded
4) Remove all drywall, including ceilings & scrub down the framing
5) All cabinets & surfaces to be cleaned with an industrial cleaner and possibly even stripped to remove all nicotine (inside & outside)
6) Replace all electrical outlets, ceiling fans & light fixtures
7) Replace insulation in walls & ceiling. Contractor grade paint will allow the smoke to seep through & the insulation will have the smoke odor.

8) doing it right will cost but do you want to be responsible for masking the odor & allowing second hand smoke to cause respiratory problems & cancer. (Written by a non smoker & lung cancer survivor from second hand smoke)
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