Hydroxyls: Oddball Uses & Thinking Outside the Box
Hydroxyl generators have been used for nearly a decade to eliminate smoke odors on countless projects around the world. However, because hydroxyls are so reactive and powerful, there are many other applications in the disaster restoration industry from which contractors are profiting.
Since hydroxyls are the second strongest oxidant in the world behind atomic fluorine, contractors can have the utmost confidence they will permanently eliminate virtually any odor they encounter. This includes odors caused by skunks, fuel and heating oils, biohazard and trauma, VOCs (e.g., glues, synthetic items, adhesives, paint, blown-in insulation, etc.), protein fires, sewage, curry, nicotine and marijuana, hoarding, rotten foods, and more. Here are some examples of how contractors have used their hydroxyl generators.
CAT Loss Flooding
After Hurricane Matthew hit the East Coast last fall, a number of homes were left flooded. In many homes and businesses, the stagnant Category 3 water created nauseating smells. One particular project involved a young family who had just purchased their first home before the storm hit. The wife was 30 weeks pregnant with their second child and, like many pregnant women are, was hypersensitive to smells. The restoration company doing the dry-out immediately placed hydroxyl generators in the home while the drying and minor demolition were being performed. This ensured that on top of having a dry, mold-free, disinfected home, they also were free of those sewer-type odors that had permeated throughout the entire home. The odors were fully eliminated, never came back, and the family was thrilled with the results.
Tip: Get the hydroxyl generators running as soon as you can, and run them around the clock until the odor is completely gone. Need to do an odor check? Just smell some of the items around you, especially porous ones that you know previously carried the noxious smell.
A 3300 sq. ft. two-story home in Florida had been listed for sale for 18 months. Not a single offer was made to purchase it because it had a strong cigarette smell. The realtor reached out to a contractor and they immediately said they could help. They placed two hydroxyl generators on the first floor and two more on the second floor. No physical cleaning was needed because the walls were not yellow. After five days, the smell was completely eliminated, including from the carpet upstairs, drapes, and kitchen cabinets. They billed a flat rate of 95 cents per square foot, and it only required one worker to set up the machines and pick them up. The very next person to see the house placed an offer and it was sold!
Tip: Remove the return filter to the HVAC unit and put the fan in the ON position to help evenly distribute the hydroxyls throughout the home.
A dog in Kentucky was sprayed by a skunk and decided to run back into its owner’s home. Frantically, the owner of the home called a contractor and asked if there was anything they could do because the dog reeked of skunk secretion, as did a portion of the home. The contractor instantly responded. They put the dog into a bedroom, shut the door, and ran a hydroxyl generator. They set up an additional machine to cover the area of the house the dog ran in. Since this response was so rapid, the skunk smell was fully eliminated the very next day.
Skunk smells can be difficult to fully eliminate in large part because of the high sulfur content. However, hydroxyl radicals have no issues breaking down these sulfur-based compounds. At the end, the owner of the dog was quite pleased. We’re sure the dog was pretty happy too. And learned not to chase skunks again.
A luxury resort in Georgia lost power to its freezers after Hurricane Matthew, and the meat and fish inside rotted for days. The food was disposed of and the power finally fixed, but the lingering smell was extremely pungent and the freezers could not be restocked with food. The contractor handling the project placed one hydroxyl generator in each freezer and shut the doors. After three days, the smell was gone. There was no concern that the temperature was extremely low or that there would be any damage to the rubber seals. The resort was impressed they didn’t need to replace the expensive freezers, and very thankful with the quick and effective treatment.
Ethnic Food Odors
A property manager in California had an apartment with a curry smell they could not get rid of. In their own words, they had “tried everything.” This included running air filters, using chemicals, painting, etc.
With no success, they finally called a contractor to see if they could help. The contractor placed two hydroxyl generators in the apartment. One was placed in the kitchen where the smell was the strongest, and a second was placed to cover the rest of the apartment where the smell had migrated. After four days, the smell was gone, including the odors that had been adsorbed by the porous kitchen cabinets and the carpet.
Tip: Open up the kitchen cabinets to help the hydroxyls have more direct access to all affected areas. Also, have the hydroxyl generator in the kitchen blowing air directly above the stove (either by placing it on the island or on the floor blowing at a 45 degree angle). This will be the area that is most affected and a direct blast with hydroxyls will guarantee the fastest elimination of curry smells.
Understanding Hydroxyl Technology
These are just a few examples of how contractors are using the hydroxyl generators to generate additional business. The benefit of using hydroxyls is that they are extremely reactive, don’t damage anything or anyone, don’t require any physical work beyond setting them up, don’t require the use of any chemicals, and don’t leave behind any lingering odors.
Feel free to get creative on any project that has an odor issue, and remember to never throw anything away if it only has a bad smell. Some insurance claims like sewage losses and trauma still use the Xactimate code (CLNDODHY>) for billing, but other projects like some mentioned above will use flat rate billing to keep things simple and affordable for the client. At the end of it all, the customer is happy and the contractor makes money, so it’s a win-win.