You have just bought a new reading chair for your sunroom, unpackaged it, and placed it exactly where you want it, right in the corner where the light hits just right. However, you notice that there is a rather pungent chemical smell coming from the chair.
The odor arises because your piece of furniture was exposed to a variety of chemicals and gases during its manufacturing process. Some of these were absorbed into the materials. It will take a while for the furniture to “off-gas” completely and stop smelling. However, the bad smell is also accompanied by some health effects, so you want to get it over with as quickly as possible.
Increasing heat and ventilation speed up off-gassing. Heat increases the rate of chemical reaction, and ventilation prevents saturation of the air around the piece, which would slow off-gassing. Using the HVAC system, open windows/doors, fans, heaters, fireplaces, or putting the piece outside will help.
Increase Room Ventilation
One way to speed up the process of furniture off-gassing is to increase the ventilation in the room where your furniture resides.
As time goes by, the furniture will release the absorbed gases back into the air. Now, air can reach a saturation point. So, without ventilation, the air around the off-gassing item will become saturated with the gases, preventing any more from leaving the materials.
Only when the concentration of gases in the air has dropped due to natural air movements (typically much slower or at least less constant than artificially-generated airflow) can more gas escape. This means that it will take much longer to completely off-gas.
When you increase ventilation, off-gassing becomes much faster. Air is constantly flowing past the object, allowing the gas to move away from the piece of furniture quicker, which means more gas can escape the material.
Make Sure the HVAC System Is Running Properly
One way to ensure that you are adequately ventilating the room where your furniture is off-gassing is to ensure your HVAC system is running as efficiently as it can.
You want your HVAC to bring fresh, clean air continuously into the room and remove the gas- and chemical-filled air from it.
If your HVAC is not working properly (perhaps there is a clogged filter or the mechanisms need some maintenance), then the stale air won’t be leaving the room as quickly or as effectively as it should be, slowing down off-gassing.
Open All the Windows and Doors
Another way to speed up the off-gassing process is to open all the windows and doors of the room whenever possible. This will enable the gases to escape the room through various openings.
However, if you want to speed up the process even further, you should also open the doors and windows in the rooms adjacent and near to the room housing your new piece of furniture. This will allow a much stronger flow of air to be available that will transport the gases and chemicals outdoors and allows the fresh air from outside to replace them.
Using this method in combination with the others mentioned in this article will really accelerate the off-gassing process and enable the gases to be removed from not only the furniture but also the house as quickly as possible.
Directional Fans and Open Windows
Throw in a free-standing fan to your open windows and doors process.
Systematically placing fans around the room will create a strong flow of air through the room to make carrying the odorous gases away quicker. However, you must direct these fans towards the open windows and doors to really increase the air’s ability to remove the toxins as soon as possible.
If you don’t mind spending some money, then you should consider getting the Vornado 660 Large Whole Room Air Circulator Fan (amazon link). With its 4-speed option, you can really get a strong current of wind through the room, which will speed up the time it takes for the gases to leave the space.
However, you can get the similar but smaller Simple Deluxe 12 Inch 3-Speed High Velocity Metal Industrial Floor Fans (amazon link) for a more reasonable price, and it will still get the job done – albeit taking slightly longer.
Create a Temporary Ventilation System
If the furniture is in a room with no windows, or you simply are not happy with the rate at which the furniture is off-gassing, then you may want to consider creating a temporary ventilation system to speed things up.
You can do this by running a temporary in-line exhaust fan (such as the AC Infinity CLOUDLINE S4 (amazon link)) with some flexible ducting (like the really affordable Dryer Vent Hose (amazon link)) through the room, and out the nearest exit point.
This will create a direct route for the gases and chemicals to follow to the outside where they can be released.
Raise the Temperature
You can also speed up the off-gassing process by increasing the temperature in the space using a variety of methods outlined below.
The increased temperature of the room will accelerate the rate of off-gassing. This is because the higher temperature causes an increase in the rate of chemical reactions that take place.
Therefore, the more chemical reactions taking place at once (such as the gases being released from the furniture) the sooner your furniture will be chemical-free. So, add some heat and get rid of the nasty odor in no time.
Adjust the Thermostat
A simple and direct way to raise the temperature of the room in which the particular piece of off-gassing furniture is kept is to simply adjust the thermostat.
Even a couple of degrees warmer should make a difference. Of course, you can set it a lot higher (around 100 °F) for faster results, but then you have to deal with being in a really hot and humid space for quite some time.
If your particular HVAC allows you to change the temperature of a particular room or section of the house, then you might be lucky enough to escape the heat in other rooms.
Light/Turn on the Fireplace
If you don’t want to crank up the cost of your electricity bill by increasing the thermostat for a day or so, then a good alternative would be to put the item in a room with a fireplace, and then light or turn on your fireplace.
The heat from the flames will drastically increase the temperature around the fireplace while giving the rest of the room a warmer atmosphere. Therefore, place the furniture as close to the fireplace as is safe (be careful of flammable materials!) to allow it to receive the maximum heat possible. This method can be more contained as opposed to affecting the whole house.
Use a Space Heater
If you do not have a fireplace, then there is no need to fear. That is why man invented the space heater. Simply plug it into an outlet and let the heater warm up the room. You can place the furniture even closer to the heater than you would to a fireplace as there is less risk of the furniture catching alight. However, you must still proceed with caution.
You can buy an affordable Space Heater (amazon link) that is suited to your budget, and reap the benefits when winter comes along as well.
Let the Item Air Outside for a While
If you really want to maximize the rate of off-gassing of your furniture without the added energy costs or effort required as outlined in the methods above, then you can simply place the furniture outdoors to air for a while.
This is a natural way to increase the temperature (dependent on the season, of course) and ventilation and allow the furniture the utmost opportunity to get rid of the gasses. Plus, you won’t have to deal with the smell indoors!
We have already established that putting the furniture outside to air might be a naturally effective way to speed up the off-gassing process of your items. However, this efficiency is dependent on where exactly you place the furniture.
For instance, you would need to place the furniture somewhere it will be able to receive maximum heat as well as ventilation, while also being protected from the elements.
If possible, you should place the furniture on a covered patio for a few days. You will be able to leave it there unaccompanied without needing to obsessively watch for rain and then quickly move it under cover before it gets drenched and damaged.
It might not be possible if you are not at home during the day, or if you simply aren’t strong enough to pick up and move the item around alone, but you should try to place the furniture in direct sunlight for a few hours at a time to really maximize the heat that it is exposed to.
You will find that the furniture will off-gas a lot quicker, meaning you will be able to bring the furniture indoors in no time. Just remember, it should only be for a few hours, otherwise, you will be dealing with sun-related scorching or bleaching.
You should also make sure that the furniture is not blocked by obstacles that will restrict airflow and ventilation, such as large chairs, shelves, or outdoor curtains. You want the fresh air to be able to completely surround the piece of furniture and be able to flow away without restriction.