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Increasing numbers of us live in inner city apartments. We’re near work, and the best bars and bistros are just around the corner. The air is fresher a few floors up, too – until you discover you have a smoker as a neighbor. Your once fresh-as-a-country-field apartment suddenly stinks of cigarette smoke. You close the windows and balcony doors. No change. You’re plagued by nasty cigarette odor. It must be coming through the wall.

Strange as it may seem, your hypothesis isn’t far from the truth. In this blog post, we’ll see if cigarette smoke really can travel through walls. We’ll also give you a strategy to erase cigarette smoke odor when it’s coming from next door.

Yes, smoke can travel through walls… kinda

According to TobaccoFreeCA, smoke can travel through walls. However, even though cigarette smoke seeps into walls, floors and ceilings, when it travels it tends to act in a similar way to water – it takes the easiest and fastest route. Once you understand how smoke travels through walls, then you can do something about it.

How does cigarette smoke travel through walls?

Cigarette smoke isn’t controlled by Merlin the magician or one of J. K. Rowling’s wizards. It doesn’t have magical qualities, and can’t teleport from one apartment to another in Star Trek style. So just how does the odor from your neighbor’s cigarette habit get into your apartment?

Quite simply, it seeks out opportunities to do so. It will travel through the smallest gaps and cracks. The most likely of these smoke odor routes are to be found in:

  • Air vents
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical outlets
  • Cable and phone jacks
  • Gaps in insulation

Of course, open doors, windows and balconies are also favorite highways for cigarette smoke.

How to combat your neighbor’s cigarette smoke odor

If you can smell stale cigarette smoke (there really are few worse smells), the first thing to do is attempt to discover where it’s coming in. If you get on well with your neighbor – apart from the smoke smell – you might be able to work together to locate exit and entry points. It will be better if they deal with exit points in their apartment in the same way that you deal with entry points.

Okay, now that you’ve identified where the odor may be crossing over from one apartment to another, here’s what to do next:

  • Seal all the gaps

Use appropriate fillers such as silicone caulk or insulating foam. There may be gaps around light fittings, vents, plumbing pipes, and so on.

  • Close down non-working vents

Close down any vents that are no longer in use by covering with plastic sheeting. Attach the sheet to the vent using silicone caulk.

  • Eliminate gaps in doors and windows

Where doors and windows open onto common areas, use draft excludes to remove any gaps. Add weatherstripping on all three sides of the door jamb. Use weatherstripping around windows, too.

  • Fit an extractor fan to windows

This will draw smoke odor outside. You may need permission to fit these, and should take advice on which will be best.

  • Freshen up your home

With all this work done, the last thing to do will be to remove the smoke odor from your home. There’s a number of methods you can use, including using an ozone machine, baking soda on carpets, and waving a wet towel around your rooms.

If you live in a building where smoking is prohibited, you may be able to get your landlord to enforce the no-smoking rules. Otherwise, taking the actions outlined above should eliminate most if not all cigarette smoke that travels through the walls.

If you still find your next-door neighbor’s smoke is invading your personal space after taking the above actions, contact Porter's. We’re available 24/7 and we’ll be happy to help you resolve the problem of unwanted smoke smells.

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