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Concrete odor

A new concrete floor was poured in the basement of my home that is under construction. After 8 weeks there is still a strong odor.

I am chemically sensitive and afraid that this may be a problem for me when I move in. I was told that this is a normal cement odor.

What could be causing this odor and will it off gas over time? We will be pouring another layer of cement for radiant heating. Will this help contain the odor? And what kind of cement should I ask for?

Asked by Arlene DiMarino
Posted Thu, 04/21/2011 - 22:15
Edited Tue, 11/20/2012 - 10:27

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5 Answers

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1.
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I love that smell. It's the smell of construction progress. I don't think it's a harmful smell (unlike just about every other smell in the construction world). I'm no chemist and I'm not sure which part of the chemistry process you are smelling, but concrete is basically made thusly: Limestone is heated to enormous temperatures to burn out the carbon (which is vaulted into the air in massive amounts) it then crumbles into a powder (lime). Silica (very, very fine sand) is added. Now all you need to do is add water to it and the lime will brake the water (throwing off heat) and use the hydrogen to bond the silica (SiO2 is close a relative to CO2 in the periodic table) and will start to form a solid anound and between the rocks (or aggregate) in the mix. Ta da. Man-made rock. As the concrete cures the chemistry will slow and the odor will go away until it is undetectable.

Now, sometimes adatives or pigments are thrown in, but I don't think what you are smelling is any kind of petro-chemical smell. You are probably smelling something akin to wet mud.

Chris Briley, Architect

Answered by Christopher Briley
Posted Fri, 04/22/2011 - 10:26

2.
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Or the flatwork crew sealed it - some of that stuff is indeed nasty.

Answered by Dan Kolbert
Posted Fri, 04/22/2011 - 11:10

3.
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Ok, so it was over 20 years ago so my recollection is hazy, but I remember concrete curing compound having a sharp and lasting odor. Ask if the crew sprayed curing compound after the pour.

Answered by David Argilla
Posted Fri, 04/22/2011 - 11:23

4.
Helpful? 0

Or Calcium Chloride to get it to dry faster. They do this sometimes if it is cold or if pouring on top of poly vapor barrier. To my nose the smell goes away quickly, but I'm not chemically sensitive.

Answered by Aaron Vander Meulen
Posted Fri, 04/22/2011 - 17:30

5.
Helpful? 0

Have you called the installation crew chief or your local concrete ready-mix place? They've likely heard this question before and can give you a straight answer.

Answered by John Klingel
Posted Fri, 04/22/2011 - 20:44

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