OT - Remove persistent electrical smoke smell

johnmeyer wrote on 3/17/2014, 12:26 PM
My old Maha AA/AAA battery charger went up in smoke two nights ago. Fortunately the door to my office was closed, so the smell didn't make it to the rest of the house. However, after two days with the windows open, the electrical smell from the circuit board, coil/choke, and plastic is not diminishing.

Many of you have reported some epic electrical meltdowns, with lots of smoke. Does anyone have any advice of how to get rid of the smell?


paul_w wrote on 3/17/2014, 12:55 PM
You would imagine after a few days of fresh air, the smell would go. Are you sure all burnt items have been removed from the room? Batteries, charger, cables etc..

No tricks i can think of. Just time and fresh air have worked in the past for me in the workshop. Burnt material being of a carbon nature, i wonder if a de-ionizer in the room would help. Removing particles in the air. Failing that, just some masking air freshener to allow time for the offending niff to dissipate perhaps.

Kimberly wrote on 3/17/2014, 12:57 PM
Ionizers remove smells of all kinds. The fire restoration companies have big ionizer rooms where they put your stuff and run them for 24 hours.

We have a big portable ionizer on the boat to get rid of big smells, and each guest cabin has a small one (about the size of a hair dryer) as well. You should be able to get a portable model and perhaps even rent one.


NormanPCN wrote on 3/17/2014, 12:57 PM
Don't know about electrical, but Lysol Neutra Air has worked/helped with some nasty smells. Like a dead rat in a suspended ceiling. it seemed to do more than just scented masking.

Some of those vapors may have settled into the carpet so some Febreeze on the carpet might be prudent.
johnmeyer wrote on 3/17/2014, 2:40 PM
Ah, some very good ideas. I do have an electrostatic precipitator in my forced hot air heating system. It is currently broken, but I know what I have to do to repair it, so this may be the incentive I need to do that job. It isn't exactly an ionizer, but it does create ozone because of the extremely high voltage used to attract dust particles.

The defective charger and its "wall-wart" (which survived intact) are all in my shop or in the trash outside. Nothing whatsoever is left in the room. The spot where the charger sat has no smell or odor (I've put my nose right down to the wooden shelf on which the charger rested, and can't detect any smell). The only thing I can think has happened is that the smoke attached itself to the walls, the carpet, etc. I'll look into the Lysol product and see it that helps.

K-Decisive wrote on 3/17/2014, 4:44 PM
you could try arm and hammer carpet deorderiser with fabreeze, granted it's for carpet, but it did wonders in my basement after my cats died. it does something to absorb oder from the entire room.
John222 wrote on 3/17/2014, 7:40 PM
Fabreeze work great for all oders.
fldave wrote on 3/17/2014, 8:16 PM
My wife works for a fire restoration company. Standard process is wiping the entire room and contents with Unsmoke (if there was a lot of smoke), then running an ozone machine for 24+ hours. Of course, the ozone is poisonous, so you can't go in the building for that time period.

I used a small ozone machine in my old car to get rid of years of cigarette smoke, it worked great!
Former user wrote on 3/17/2014, 8:29 PM
Take ground, dry coffee and set bowls around. I used this in a car that had a cigarette smell. It worked real well after a few days, just a coffee smell and that dissipated fast after removing the coffee.
johnmeyer wrote on 3/17/2014, 9:07 PM
Very interesting ideas. I've never hear of "unsmoke." I'll have to look that up. The coffee idea is very intriguing. Having the whole room smell like that would be quite nice.

The ozone machine is also interesting. I'll look into whether one can be rented.

musicvid10 wrote on 3/17/2014, 11:05 PM
When you've burned up as much equipment as I have in a lifetime, the smell becomes, well . . . almost comfortable.

But sometimes, the unintended consequences are good ones. After smoking my crappo Astra scanner by plugging in the wrong power adaptor, I found a barely-used Epson 4490 (now called v500) at a thrift store for $15.
johnmeyer wrote on 3/17/2014, 11:46 PM
[I]But sometimes, the unintended consequences are good ones.[/I]That's definitely the case here. While I had an emotional attachment to the old charger, for reasons far too sad to ever tell in public, it was a very basic charger, and I've long wanted to get one of these really fancy battery charger/tester/rejuvinators. So this gave me a great excuse to do a lot of research and buy what I think is one of the two or three best AA/AAA battery chargers on the market:

There is a highly regarded Maha/Powerex 9000 charger that most people recommend, but it looked like it was going to require far too many steps to actually charge a battery (too many options). The other one often recommended, especially for travel because it is compact is the La Crosse Technology BC-700. However, I opted to buy the:

Opus BT-C2000 Battery Charger.

Opus has a newer version of this charger that has already been reviewed, but is not yet available to purchase, that also charges LiOn batteries. However, I don't yet own any of these (other than the specialty batteries used in my cameras and laptops), so that wasn't a requirement.

If anyone is interested, I'll post about my experiences with the new charger in a few weeks.

fldave wrote on 3/18/2014, 12:28 AM
Have had the Lacrosse for a while now. Rejuvenated old batteries, but have switched exclusively to Sanyo Eneloop batteries for now.



Steve Mann wrote on 3/18/2014, 12:37 AM
In ham radio, you tune for minimum smoke.
It I don't smell smoke, my rig isn't turned on.

I had a 500W halogen fall to the floor and set the carpet on fire. Febreze did the trick.
johnmeyer wrote on 3/18/2014, 2:02 AM
[I]In ham radio, you tune for minimum smoke.[/I]I'm a lifelong SWL. Both my dad and brother were hams, and had quite a shack, back in the early 1960s. I still have their beautifully restored Hallicrafters SX-100, but I don't ever remember smoke being part of the equation, although the tubes do sometimes heat up the dust and that gives off an odor if I haven't turned it on for awhile.
john_dennis wrote on 3/18/2014, 2:10 AM
My most recent smoke test happened while I was in the room. I took the system down to the garage so the smell didn't linger in the room very long after I opened all the windows and ran the fan/coil.

Lucky me.
johnmeyer wrote on 3/18/2014, 2:22 AM
Problem solved!!

Just walked into my office, a few minutes before midnight. I had left the window open, and a skunk decided to spray the area just outside the house.

I no longer can smell any electrical smoke odor ...

ushere wrote on 3/18/2014, 5:26 AM
great - i was just about to offer you the loan of one of my dogs. NOTHING gets past their smell ;-)
teaktart wrote on 3/18/2014, 12:21 PM
Dear John,
Nothing like a 'natural' skunk coverup!
The only other suggestion would be to open a very small bottle of patchoulli oil and pretend you are at Woodstock ;-))
That smell hangs on everything with just a single drop.....

I bought a wood lathe from a cigar smoking fellow and 2 yrs later you can still smell that odor on the metal which is supposed to be nonabsorbant you would think.

johnmeyer wrote on 3/18/2014, 12:51 PM
The only other suggestion would be to open a very small bottle of patchoulli oil and pretend you are at Woodstock ;-))Maybe I should make a trip across the bay to where you live and pick up a product that is readily available in Santa Cruz, and is more commonly associated with Woodstock. As I remember, it has a smell that can cover up just about anything ... (Rocky Mountain high ... Colorado ... - John Denver

I bought a wood lathe from a cigar smoking fellow and 2 yrs later you can still smell that odor on the metal which is supposed to be nonabsorbent you would think.Ah yes, the smell that keeps on giving. I remember the thrill of getting the one and only company car I ever had, only to find out that the sales guy who got to use it before me always got into the car in the morning immediately after putting on his after shave. As near as I could tell, every morning he put the stuff on his hands and then, like the kid in "Home Alone," slapped both cheeks and immediately went into the garage and grabbed the steering wheel with both hands.

For the year I got to drive that car, my hands reeked for the rest of the day after driving that car to work in the morning.

riredale wrote on 3/18/2014, 12:53 PM
I was about to post yesterday that a dead fish would easily mask any other odors but then wisely deleted before posting. I guess the skunk idea was along similar lines.

Years ago I worked as a sales rep for HP. We had loaned a desktop computer called a 9825 to the Gilroy Garlic Festival folks. When we got it back a few weeks later we had to store it outside for a while. Garlic is powerful stuff.
larry-peter wrote on 3/18/2014, 12:55 PM
Back in my college dorm days, we relied on Ozium to eliminate unwanted odors. According to my discipline report, it didn't work very well.
johnmeyer wrote on 3/18/2014, 12:58 PM
Years ago I worked as a sales rep for HP. We had loaned a desktop computer called a 9825 to the Gilroy Garlic Festival folks.I didn't know about your HP background. That's where I got my start! What did I do? I programmed the 9825 to control a transceiver test system. Here's the HP "data sheet" from that system, with moi in the picture on page 10:

"Big Foot" Transceiver Test System

riredale wrote on 3/18/2014, 4:50 PM
Ha! I'll bet your appearance has changed a bit over the years.

Okay, now you've got me zoning out down Memory Lane...

I've mentioned this before on this website, but besides the garlic-infused 9825, another memorable loan from way back then was when I delivered a new 9845C (powerful and incredibly expensive) desktop computer to Colin Cantwell, a guy who worked in the film industry. He met me at the door dressed in a bright orange one-piece ripstop nylon jumpsuit. He had been hired to do all the screen graphics for the soon-to-shoot movie "War Games" with Matt Broderick. So all those screens showing the USA versus the USSR were done on that 9845C.

Colin worked with Lucas on the original Star Wars. He told me he did an original workup of the Death Star using two large foam hemispheres. The glue he used accidentally swelled up, forming an equator, and Lucas worked that into the final script, where Luke Skywalker enters that equator canyon in order to fire the photon whatevers to blow the Death Star up. There's a bit of trivia you can take to the next Star Wars convention...
johnmeyer wrote on 3/18/2014, 5:03 PM
Well, now that we've veered completely off the original OT topic, I absolutely loved (at the time) those "advanced" War Games graphics, especially at the end where they show the simulation of the entire world being nuked. The 9845 came after my departure, so I never got a chance to play with that. Most of my work was on the 9820 (predecessor to the 9825) and the BASIC "calculator," the 9830A.

And yes, that picture was taken forty years ago, and I have changed just a tad since then ...