I just moved into a 325sf senior apartment and now live in a gas chamber. The second-hand smoke from the upstairs neighbors seeps into the apartment 16 hours a day through gaps around the shoddily installed ceiling fixtures and the poorly weather-stripped doors. The management will do nothing, and there isn't anyplace to move at this price in this pandemic. They basically say, "Love it or leave it." I also have heavy VOC fumes coming from the recently painted cabinets, but that's a side story for now.

As a quick stop-gap measure, I used packing tape to seal the gaps around ceiling fixtures and the poorly weather-stripped doors. I am also airing out the place when I know they are sleeping early in the morning and am boiling water to create positive pressure. That's greatly improved the situation, but it's not sustainable as it's hot, allows the fumes from off-gassing high VOC paint to accumulate, is causing the paint from the doorjambs to come off when tape is removed to open the doors, and is not a complete solution as some cigarette smoke and fumes still get through if we are not actively boiling water. It's too hot for comfort and might be bad for electronics.

I'm looking at things like this: https://airinnovations.com/negative-positive-pressure-rooms-hospital-infection-control/

In a pandemic when older people are more vulnerable, second-hand smoke doubles the risk of serious complications, few affordable rentals can be found in our rural area, and there's no place to go to get relief, with the libraries closed and so on, I'm looking for cheap, fast, easy solutions to improve my temporary measures while I attempt to get help with this situation with enforcement measures or other appropriate means. By the way, I discovered that many older people in such complexes are exposed to heavy second-hand smoke and feel they are powerless to do anything to protect themselves. This is a major health issue and has likely contributed to many deaths in this pandemic. I'm not taking this passively. I'll get the situation resolved. But, I'm looking for creative solutions to make it more livable fast so I can have the health I need to restart the formerly successful teaching business I largely shut down last year to take a break to work on my health.

Someone marked me down for not having enough research. Now, you have a link. I'm looking for creative ideas to stay alive. This situation could sink me as it's a major cancer risk, and I'm getting borderline tests back for a recurrence of former cancer. So, please give me a hand with some creative ideas. Do what you'd want someone else to do for your mom.

If I didn't think I could somehow get out of here, I'd be sinking everything I have into making this place safe. But, I don't feel this place can be made safe. I just need to be safe in the short term while I work on solutions.

Thanks to those who are willing to help with ideas.

  • 1
    Since this is a rental, and the landlords aren't willing to help out. I'd suggest that you start by contacting a lawyer, possibly a free or low-cost "legal aid" type of place and ask them to draft a letter/agreement for you to bring to the landlord that A) Acknowledges that they're not going to do anything to alleviate the situation, B) giving you permission to make modifications to the apartment in an effort to prevent the smoke ingress, and C) waiving claims on your damage deposit due to work you do in this effort. Otherwise, you may be out $$$ for trying to protect yourself.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 15, 2020 at 15:46
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    Stick to the problem you are trying to solve rather than spending a lot of words "ranting" about what your neightbors, apartment management, other folks in senor housing... are or are not doing. We can't fix them, and they are off-topic for the site as a result.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 15, 2020 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


Use a Window fan, blowing inwards. Presumably something simple and easily available would suit your purposes most easily.

The best type of fan/blower for the purpose (a "squirrel-cage blower") is not the most commonly available or easily self-installed, but the commonly available axial fan (or two) in a window mount will likely serve the purpose, and does not require a long search or figuring out how to install it.

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