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I just moved into a recently renovated apartment. I am not sure exactly what work was done or what products were used. It has new parquet wood floors and the place was sitting empty for a month. I first saw it at the end of November, they wanted to rent for December first but I took it January 1, so I am assuming they didn't do any extra renovations in December (not a fancy place, the landlord doesn't seem to care much about his tenants).

I moved my things in with my 2 year old daughter and opened windows, thinking it was the smell of fresh paint, but now it's been over two weeks and the smell is still so strong. I left windows open, baking soda and vinegar bowls - basically for the last week without a noticeable change in smell. I just got an air purifier and have space heaters heating the space while opening windows about 1/3 of the way. There are only two windows and a sliding door and they are all on the same side of the apartment.

I wiped down the floors with a dry mop. Next I was going to try washing with a mild soap.

I don't know what else to do or what to expect. The landlord is not taking any action and I just want to get my daughter settled in her new home. She has asthma and I have sinus issues (which have been acting up after spending a few nights here). I know I can take legal action, but in the meantime I have no where to stay and if I can resolve it myself I would be happy to do so.

Thanks in advance!

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    You indicate that you know you can take legal action, but honestly, I'm not so sure that is true. Every area has laws and regulations to follow, but (even if this was subsidized housing), it doesn't sound like the landlord failed to provide livable living space. If the smell is actually paint/poly/etc, the instructions-use of most of these products is in the span of 1-2 days, weeks later, its supposed to be safe. Keep doing what you are doing, and see if you can pinpoint the issue. Warm air, and ventilation will help. if you can locate the source and it isnt paint/poly, then discuss with them – noybman Jan 14 at 3:02
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    Fan plus heat will speed things up. Sounds like someone applied too much polyurethane. – Wayfaring Stranger Jan 14 at 3:49
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    Agreed, detectable doesn't mean dangerous. Unless the child is reacting, don't you react. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 14 at 5:59
  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Hopefully these comments will help. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to participate here. – Daniel Griscom Jan 14 at 13:51
  • That new car smell, it goes away just like the new paint smell will. No legal recourse here, you didn’t have to rent the place. Heat will help I find water based poly takes longer to outgas than solvent based poly (lower VOC’s with water based) @noybman you should make that an answer+ – Ed Beal Jan 14 at 16:18
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From what you've told us, it sounds like you are trying a number of good ideas to help mitigate the smell and lingering off-gassing but maybe not optimally.

  1. I actually would advise against using bowls of water or vinegar and adding unnecessary moisture to the air.
  2. You actually want to remove moisture from the air (air conditioners //air dehumidifiers do this), however, if you are in the colder climates like it sounds like you are, this is not very pratical and in the winter months you actually want some humidity in the air.
  3. You are using space heaters to generate heat, but the windows are open - mother nature is going to win this fight

You actually want to put the space heaters away, in fact, many apartments forbid their use. As long as they provide functioning heat, they can prohibit their use. If it isn't prohibited then use it, but realize they are a safety hazard in more than one way, especially if your fumes are as potent as you suggest.

Just close the windows, get the heat cranked up a little higher, and get a fan to circulate the air. Put water sources away, dry the sink, etc. Don't add unnecessary water to the air. Locate the strongest source of the odor and get the fan circulating air in that room.

Vacate the premises for a few hours, then when you get home, go ahead open two windows, preferrably opposite sides of the space, and put the fan blowing the air directly out for 10-15 minutes. Close the windows, repeat.

I'm not suggesting you do this as an option, but I want you to understand an example of how long a smell can last despite the best of intentions & I only came to this after a few years of frustration:

You indicate that you know you can take legal action, but honestly, I'm not so sure that is true. Every area has laws and regulations to follow, but (even if this was subsidized housing), it doesn't sound like the landlord failed to provide livable living space.

If the smell is indeed paint/poly/etc., the instructions&use of most of these products is typically in the span of 1-2 days, so weeks later, its supposed to be safe even if stinky. You can seek out staying at a friends or families, but I wouldn't expect any compensation or recourse from the landlord unless they did something wrong, and its not advisable to throw accusations unless you have a basis.

Keep doing what you are doing, and see if you can pinpoint the issue. Warm air & ventilation will help. If you can locate the source and it isn't paint/poly, then discuss with the landlord. If they are renovating other nearby apartments then request them to wait holdoff spring to use chemicals if at all possible.

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    This is about the best advice that can be given. Note that some of the commercial poly lasts much longer and for sure carries its smell much longer. There is a good chance used this and the reason the OP is freaking out. It still goes away it just takes longer. I have redone bball courts and could smell it 6 weeks later in an open gym (and I have very little sense of smell). – DMoore Jan 15 at 4:39

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