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Concrete odor

Arlene DiMarino | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

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?

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Replies

  1. Christopher Briley | | #1

    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

  2. Dan Kolbert | | #2

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

  3. David Argilla | | #3

    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.

  4. Aaron Vander Meulen | | #4

    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.

  5. John Klingel | | #5

    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.

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