The ‘How the Pros Do It: Odor Mitigation Tips, Strategies, and Best Practices for Cleaning and Restoration’ webinar took place last week on November 3, 2022 and was chock full of highly informative and engaging topics of discussion. Between our moderator, Jeff Cross, speakers Cara Driscoll and Mark Cornelius, and the attendees, some of the hardest-hitting mitigation questions were addressed, answered, and discussed in full detail.

Difficult odor removal

The webinar began with the topic of the most difficult odor situations that the attendees and speakers have worked on throughout the years. In the comments thread, many odor dilemmas were shared including pet urine, fire, pet odor in hardwood, rotten meat/food leaking from a freezer, skunk spray, smoking odor, restrooms, dead animals with unknown locations, trauma cleanup, and fuel/gas/kerosene odor. There was also a lot of communication between attendees sharing their locations and their love for the Cleanfax brand. Megan Hughes said in the chat, “Cleanfax is my fave industry magazine!”

Then, Mark Cornelius, president of the Emergency Mitigation Technician Academy (EMTA) and IICRC-Approved instructor, was introduced along with his co-speaker, Cara Driscoll, Technical trainer for BELFOR and IICRC-Approved instructor as well.

Psychological smells

The topic transitioned to psychological smells and Cornelius explained, “If a person perceives that they smell something, in their head they believe they have it. No chemical can fix that. You’ve got to figure out how to convince them that you’re the expert.” Driscoll also stated, “The most difficult odor to get rid of is the one that doesn’t exist.”

DIY odor removal

During the webinar which extended past its allotted time to answer even more attendee questions from the chat, another question that was discussed was whether or not consumers can remove real odors that are tough to remove on their own. In response, Driscoll shared, “The companies that have millions of dollars to promote products that convince us we can do it ourselves aren’t actually as good as they pay to appear.”

Cornelius added, “The product is fine, but here are three words that people don’t follow: Use as directed. People don’t read before use and they use products that aren’t effective for specific jobs. If you’re not reading the bottle, you’re going to get poor results. They could do it if they spent time learning how to do it but they prefer to pay someone that just knows and took the time to learn it…The product isn’t the problem, it’s how it’s misused.”

Identifying the source

When asked about finding the source of specific odors, Driscoll explained, “The number one principle in odor remediation is that you must remove the source. To do that, you have to locate it first…Locating a direct source when odors permeate can be difficult as it could be much bigger than what you can perceive and visually find.” When asked about the old saying ‘the customer is always right’ in regards to smell sourcing, Driscoll added, “Is it the customer or the black light that’s always right? The black light doesn’t lie.”

Water damage and mold odors

The two industry experts also discussed Hurricane Ian’s water damage and the cause of water damage and mold odor as well. “As soon as you add water to carpet, pads, flooring, etc., the bacteria that are already there will begin feeding,” Driscoll shared.

Sewage cleanup

When discussing sewage cleanup specifically, Cornelius exclaimed, “It’s liquid gold to me. It smells like money. The only thing you can smell in this situation at first will be feces but it will convert to that musty smell if it takes too long to clean since mold can begin to grow. It’s still one of the easiest cleanups for odor mitigation as it’s out in the open and very visible to clean.”

Final remarks

The final topics included training your nose, using the right products and safety measures, and pricing your work accordingly as an odor mitigation professional. On these topics, Cornelius had several insights to share, “I’ve made a lot of money off of this nose. The only way you’re gonna learn what an odor smells like is to train your nose.” Cornelius also stressed the importance of wearing the right PPE on the job as the lasting effects of not wearing this safety gear could be deadly. Lastly, he stated in regard to pricing, “How much do you value your time? If I’m going to be at your house all day, I expect to be paid for a whole day of work.”

To see more of the many highlights from this highly valuable and insightful discussion, be sure to watch the full webinar below: 

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