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Cat urine scent and home purchase

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I wasn't really sure where to go, so I thought maybe someone on this message board would have some advice.

Basically, I have found my dream home (well not quite, but much close to it than anything else in my price range ). The only problem is a cat urine smell in one room.

The carpet and padding seems new, and when I pulled up the edge of the carpet, there seems to be paint or some type of sealant which I guess was an attempt by the home owner to address the problem. The smell is quite noticeable, but not overpowering, and it is hard to pinpoint the location because after a minute or so, I get used to it and can't smell it anymore. However, I feel (though not positive) that the smell is originating from the Heat/AC vent in the floor, as well as one corner of the room.

I was able to confirm with the agent that the owner did have a cat which was gone prior to their replacing the carpet and padding in the house. Also, the owner has already vacated the property and is across the country, so they are unable to provide alot of assistance.

I would really like to buy this house, but I am not sure what I am getting myself into.. Will this smell dissipate in time? Is there any reasonable chance of removing it?
post #2 of 15
No it will not go away. And if you have other cats/dogs, they will pee in those places.

The only thing that covers up smell completely is Kiltz - its in the paint department.

Putting new carpet/pad is only a little help. If the floor is wood, then the smell is in the wood and nothing will remove it. I know you can use the Kiltz on the walls before painting; not sure if it can be used on wood floors - you'd have to check.

If its in the duct work (from the vent) I don't think you will get that out unless you replace the duct work where the cat peed down.
post #3 of 15
If the duct work is metal, and not flex duct, then you may be able to have someone come clean it out. The duct work probably needs it anyways.
post #4 of 15
We walked away from a house my DH liked because of the pet smells (both dog and cat). Our realtor said some people can get the smell out, but the other half end up living in a house that smells like pee. We decided it was just too much of a risk and project to deal with. He said cigarette smoke smell can be removed but pet smells don't always come out. I didn't want to risk my cats starting to think "outside" the box.

Good luck with your decision.
post #5 of 15
Try to have the house as dark as possible and use a black light to see if there is evidence of urine that has not been cleaned up properly. I mean go through the WHOLE house. If there is pee in one room, there is probably pee in others that the owner didn't know about. Walls, ceilings, baseboards, cabinets, closets...

I would rip out the subflooring in that room and replace it. I have been in some homes where the previous owners used Kilz...and the whole house still stunk to high heaven of cat pee when the house got too warm. I wouldn't want to pay full price for a home damaged by animal waste even if it had been covered by sealant. It doesn't matter where the owner is...you can still negotiate proper cleanup or replacement of home parts as part of the terms of sale.

It really won't cost more than a few hundred dollars to do. If you take the carpet and padding up carefully you can reuse them since they are new.

Metal duct work can be cleaned. Fiberboard duct work will need replacement if there is urine in it.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
thanks for the responses.. It just irritating because everything else about the house is awesome - layout, location, yard, etc.. it is just this one room that smells..

Unfortunately the interior has been painted and recarpeted.. would the black light trick still work?

It seems like we would have to replace the subfloor, replace the sheetrock, repaint, and clean/replace the ductwork. That seems far more than a few hundred dollars, doesn't it??
post #7 of 15
^ It would be a lot of work. Try your best to get them to pay for as much of that as possible.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
^ It would be a lot of work. Try your best to get them to pay for as much of that as possible.
I definitely want them to pay for it if I am going to move in. However, my realtor says I can't write an offer around something subjective and intangible like removing a smell.. so if I would need to come up with a list of things to have cleaned/replaced.. such as the subfloor, sheetrock, and ductwork. I am just afraid that once that work is done, there will still be a smell.
post #9 of 15
If they replace all that, then the smell would not be there. I'd make sure it was not in the carpet/padding.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tranceFusion View Post
I definitely want them to pay for it if I am going to move in. However, my realtor says I can't write an offer around something subjective and intangible like removing a smell.. so if I would need to come up with a list of things to have cleaned/replaced.. such as the subfloor, sheetrock, and ductwork. I am just afraid that once that work is done, there will still be a smell.
If the place still smells of urine, possibly other wastes, it could be considered a health risk. After all, if you can still smell it then it wasn't that thoroughly cleaned.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
If the place still smells of urine, possibly other wastes, it could be considered a health risk. After all, if you can still smell it then it wasn't that thoroughly cleaned.
It isn't THAT bad.. It is just one room.. and it isn't nauseating or anything. Can that really be a health risk?

The carpet definitely seems brand new so I believe it isn't in the carpet.. just the wood/sheetrock (maybe the vent).

It seems like you guys are saying it is quite bad to have a cat urine smell in the house (and doing some reading it certainly seems difficult to get rid of), though it seems that a large number of people own cats, and certainly they must have accidents now and then.

Although I guess it really is the timeliness in cleaning it up that makes a difference?
post #12 of 15
Before you put in an offer or sign anything, get a couple of quotes from companies to find out if they can get rid of the smell in the ductwork and how much it will cost. If they can get rid of it, put in an offer for the house that takes into account how much it will cost to get the ductwork completely cleaned to get rid of the smell - supply copies of the quotes when you make your offer.

At least that is how it would work in the UK.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tranceFusion View Post
It isn't THAT bad.. It is just one room.. and it isn't nauseating or anything. Can that really be a health risk?
well, that would depend on the person, really. but i wouldn't even consider making such a large investment w/o some monetary consideration for the cleaning i'd need to do in order to prevent my own cats from 're-baptizing' the areas affected.
i think it's more that the current owners need to acknowledge that the problem hasn't been adequately addressed, than that the odor would make the inhabitants ill.
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tranceFusion View Post
It seems like you guys are saying it is quite bad to have a cat urine smell in the house (and doing some reading it certainly seems difficult to get rid of), though it seems that a large number of people own cats, and certainly they must have accidents now and then.
I have 3 cats, they use the litterbox, there have been occasional accidents but they've been thoroughly cleaned and yes it would be absolutely awful to have a house smell of cat wee that you couldn't get rid of or would cost money to get cleaned up. I have cats but my home NEVER smells of wee!

If I were buying a house I would not put in an offer for the asking price if it smelled of cat wee, this is housebuying 101 - you find out what it will cost to get stuff fixed and offer that much lower than the asking price, showing evidence of the cost.

It is not bad for your health BUT if you have cats they will be drawn to wee in the same places, and cat urine breaks down into ammonia if left uncleaned which can rot away plaster, plasterboard, sealants, and other building materials and decor.

Buying a house is a big emotional commitment, and the biggest financial commitment most of us are ever likely to make, so you need to make sure that it is absolutely perfect before signing anything - and if work needs to be done to make it perfect, that needs to be taken into account - if work needs doing it lowers the value of the house so you should never pay as much as you would if it were perfect.
post #15 of 15
My gut is this is not your dream house..too much stress and worry..I could not live with that smell..
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