Last Spring, I faced the task of selling a condo unit that was being lived in by a smoker.

I knew it was going to be a challenge. Every time I show a smoker’s unit to a buyer client, the horrible smell is the first thing he/she comments on. Without fail. As a rule, smoky homes are valued considerably less (by as much as 30%, according to one survey) and do not sell as quickly.

So leaving the unit “as is” was not an option. We’d have to clean it up ­– a little air freshener, some steam cleaning, a new coat of paint. Not a big deal, right?


Smoke particles can be as small as .001% the width of a human hair, which means they can penetrate almost any material. They adhere to wooden floors. They stick to ceilings. They cling to furniture and drapes. To make matters worse, the smoke is recirculated constantly throughout the home by the ventilation system.

The odour does not go away.

Not easily, at least. If you really want to get it out your best option is a high-ozone shock treatment. Ozone attacks the phenol gases associated with tobacco smoke and removes them from surfaces completely. Rather than just masking the smell, like most air fresheners, ozone destroys the odour at the molecular level.

Needless to say, you have to hire professionals to do this and it’s not always cheap. It’s also a pain in the butt — because, what makes ozone great at killing micro-organisms, also makes it a gas you want to be super careful around. If you find yourself in a situation where you need a high-ozone shock treatment to your home one day, you and your plants and pets need to vacate until it’s all done.

Moral of the story: Listen to me when I adamantly say, “Say no to smoking in your house!” Do not smoke on your balcony. Do not let your friends smoke in your home or on your balcony. If you lease your place out, make sure there is a no-smoking clause in the rental agreement. I’d be tempted to throw in the words “upon pain of death,” but perhaps that’s one step too far.


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