A.Fernando Pagés Ruiz, a contractor specializing in fire restoration in Lincoln, Neb., responds: Smoke smells of any kind can be frustrating to remove, because smoke permeates walls and other porous surfaces and can get trapped in household ducts. If not properly removed or encapsulated, smoke odor reoccurs, especially during warm or damp weather. Although your clients had the right idea to encapsulate the odor with a sealer after a thorough surface cleaning, they used the wrong products. Smoke smells require odor-neutralizing cleaners, and while water-based Kilz has excellent stain sealing power, it doesn't really block odors.

Here's a four-step approach I've found to be effective in getting rid of smoke smells: First, remove and replace any existing porous materials in the room, such as carpeting, pads, and drapes. Second, clean the walls, ceiling, and floor with a chemical designed to mitigate smoke odors, such as Bridgepoint's Smoke Odor Counteractant (Bridgepoint...

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