If you’re one of the 46 million Americans who smoke cigarettes, you’re surely familiar with the drawbacks of this habit. Everyone knows about the potential damage to your health and the cost of buying cigarettes. However, if you smoke inside your home, you could be costing yourself much more than you think.
In fact, according to Realtor.com, indoor smokers reduce the resale value of their homes by as much as 29 percent!
The Problems Indoor Smokers Create
If the statistic mentioned above shocks you, then it’s time to consider the many ways that cigarette smoke can damage a home. Here are a few of the biggest concerns.
Cigarette Smoke Smell
Any strange smell in a home is considered a red flag for home buyers, and cigarette smoke smell is one of the hardest to get rid of. Smoke particles stick to all types of services, particularly porous ones. This means that carpeting, window treatments, and furniture will hold the smell well after the last cigarette goes out.
Any attempts to cover the smell with air fresheners or deodorizers are futile. Even if you remove all of the carpets, drapes, and furniture, there’s still a good chance that non-smokers will notice the smell as soon as they walk in the door.
If smoking has occurred in the home for a long time or the owners were heavy smokers, then you’ll likely find yellowish-brown stains on the ceiling, walls, and floors. This requires a ton of scrubbing and it often isn’t even effective.
Special types of primers and several layers of paint are needed to cover these stains. After going through all the effort, sellers are often disappointed to see that residual nicotine can leach through their fresh paint job!
Nicotine stains also impact appliances, carpets, and blinds. These stains are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to get rid of.
In most cases, sellers will need to simply remove and replace all of these household items. This is usually expensive and further cuts into the profit from the home sale.
It’s also important to remember that some indoor smokers don’t use an ashtray 100 percent of the time. A cigarette that’s left to burn on a countertop, bathroom vanity, or other surfaces can create permanent damage. Carpets are also likely to have damage including burn marks or ground-in ashes.
Once again, sellers will often need to replace anything that’s been damaged.
Smoke can also do a number on the HVAC system. Each time an indoor smoker lights up, the smoke is pulled into the system. It travels through the air ducts and spreads throughout every room in the home. These contaminants build up and are circulated around the home approximately five to seven times every day.
When nicotine and other chemicals build up in the air ducts, a strong smoke smell will occur every time the system turns on. You’ll need a professional air duct cleaning to mitigate this issue. This also comes with a price tag and isn’t always effective at solving the problem.
This final issue is actually the most important. While the damage, stains, and smell are all cosmetic problems, the real concern is the potential health impacts of third-hand-smoke (THS).
What is THS? It’s the residual nicotine and other chemicals that are left behind on the surfaces inside the home. Simply touching these surfaces and/or breathing in the gasses they release can cause health problems.
THS can also mix with other household pollutants to create cancer-causing toxins that are even more dangerous than THS on its own. This is especially concerning for non-smokers and people with allergies. Buyers with small children and pets should also be more concerned as they’re more likely to spend time down on the ground where toxic dust can accumulate.
If THS isn’t completely removed, it can linger for weeks, months, or even years! It must be scrubbed off — opening windows, airing out rooms, or turning on fans won’t do anything to remove this danger.
A buyer who is concerned about indoor smoke may walk away from the home or make a low-ball offer. Considering the significant amount of effort and cost that is involved in restoring a home with smoke damage, a low offer makes complete sense.
It’s also likely that a buyer will stipulate that the seller must take care of the issue prior to closing. This often involves tasks like completely cleaning the home, replacing the carpeting, and repainting. The buyer may even require the seller to present a certificate of professional restoration.
Any of these scenarios will end up costing the seller a significant amount of time, money, and sweat-equity.
Watch Out for Smoke-Damaged Homes!
If you’re thinking about buying a new home, you’ll likely want to avoid one that has been owned by indoor smokers. Unfortunately, there’s no rule that requires sellers to disclose that they’ve smoked inside the home.
It’s difficult for the average person to detect smoke damage in a home that’s been partially cleaned up. If you notice strong smells of Febreeze, this could be an indication that the seller is trying to hide something. Fresh paint can also temporarily mask smoke odors, but they will return.
Having a thorough home inspection is one of the best ways to find out as much as you can about a home before you buy it. At CLASS Home Inspection, we take care of your inspection for you so you can have the peace of mind in knowing what you’re getting into before you buy.