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Mon, Oct. 21

Household ingredients can neutralize skunk odor

Q: Help! This past winter we were invaded by a family of skunks. Six of these furry little creatures were caught in traps and removed by wildlife professionals and relocated to the woods. We have not had another invasion; however, an odor has remained inside our home. Here we are, eight months later, and the one side of our home reeks of Eau De Skunk. The odor emanates from the side of the home where the skunks were captured. When the sun shines on that side of our home, the smell begins. The smell is inside only. We have tried charcoal, baking soda, perfumes and vinegar, all to no avail. Sometimes the odor seems to come up through the bathroom sink. The only relief we are afforded is when we open the doors and let the air in. Heat, rain and air conditioning make the smell worse. Any suggestions? - E & J, Williamson Valley, Prescott

A: There have been many formulas passed down from generations about how to remove skunk odor, such as tomato juice and vinegar... and burning your clothes. Skunk odor is very hard to remove and is difficult to neutralize. Skunks excrete a highly odiferous material - a yellow oil that is composed of thiols that are stored in the glands near the base of the tail of the skunk. Before starting the cleanup of the skunk oil, it is extremely important to make sure that the source (the skunk) has been relocated. Your particular problem sounds as if the outside air may have blown in some of the thiols into the home, which in turn permeated in some areas of the walls, flooring or even ceiling.

A deep cleaning, which would include wiping down of the walls and cleaning the floors with an odor neutralizer, is recommended. You can use a homemade version: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid dish soap. A good mix would be one pint of hydrogen peroxide, a couple of teaspoons of any dishwashing soap, and one small box of baking soda. Mix all of this in one gallon of water. This particular mixture releases oxygen compounds that bond with the "thiols" and is an effective neutralizer. Keep in mind this mixture has a shelf life of about one hour. You can also put this mixture into a sprayer and spray the outside of your home as well. I would also recommend pouring this mixture down your sinks. If the smell does persist, there are machines called "hydroxyl" which are safe and another effective use for Eau De Skunk. These machines are also effective for removal of smoke odor, killing viruses and mold. -Eppie Vicente, owner, ServiceMaster, Prescott

Q: My home has three attic fans - one on each end and one in the center of the attic. Some websites say that attic fans will save you electricity running your A/C. Other websites say the opposite that attic fans do not save on electricity. Are attic fans a good idea to save electricity, or do they consume more electricity than they save? All the energy-saving articles I have read avoids this issue.-Bryan G., Prescott

A: We have answers from two of our members with different thoughts concerning this question. Going with the new solar-powered attic fans would certainly put this question to rest and makes for a very short answer. An attic fan circulates air from outside of the home through the attic and is supposed to reduce the temperature in the attic. In the interest of the question, a normal attic fan pulls less than three amps - about the equivalant of five lighted 60-watt light bulbs. Usually, an attic fan runs around 12-14 hours per day, coming on by about 10 a.m. (at the high heat of the day when attic temperature is at about 100 degrees), and cycling off at night when the temperature reaches 60 degrees. Of course, the fan will run according to the attic fan settings, which should take into account types and amount of insulation installed in the attic.

Let's say the fan operates 14 hours a day, and in those 14 hours a day, a properly sized and installed 4 ton a/c system would cycle 28 times. Your a/c system will pull 50 amps on start and then go back to 24 amps each cycle during normal running time. By running an attic fan to remove heat from your attic you are clearly saving approximately two-plus cycles on the a/c system. The savings on the a/c cycles will pay for the operation of the attic fan. That said, removing latent heat from your attic will always save energy plus maintenance costs on your a/c system. Attic fans require only a small fraction of energy to run, pulling much less power than an a/c system.-Mike Moyer, owner, Moyers Heating & Cooling, Prescott Valley

A: I have found that it is not a smart idea to run an attic fan in most homes. A better value would be to make sure the "envelope" of the home is tightly sealed and the ducting has no leaks. Most homes have numerous small holes in the "envelope," allowing it to "breathe," which causes energy loss. These small holes come from such items as recessed can lighting, unsealed wire penetrations and dropped ceilings. Installing an attic fan increases the air changes within the occupied area of the home through the numerous holes in the "envelope," and this can drag in unfiltered, dirty, hot air into the home. This uses more energy and will make your a/c work harder and increase your electricity bill. If the ceiling is tight and insulated properly, new studies have indicated that homes are more efficient with no attic air movement. Many newer homes are moving the insulation to the roof line in lieu of the ceiling to stop this air exchange to the attic. A qualified BPI certified building analyst can perform testing on your home to see where your leaks are occurring and make recommendations for repairs. APS has several rebate programs to help with the cost of having this work done.

Here are some websites that have interesting information in regard to exhaust fans: Koski, owner, TDK Comfort Systems, Chino Valley

Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. YCCA, your local trusted referral source, can be reached at 778-0040 or at Don't start without us!

Submit your questions to and watch for your answer in the weekly real estate section of the Daily Courier.

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