Control Odors to Entice Guests, Not Pests

By Frank Meek International Technical & Training Director, Orkin, LLC | October 28, 2008

To control odors, we must first understand what causes them. Odors are typically caused by the presence of the bacteria produced during decomposition. As an organic material starts to break down, bacteria grow. These bacteria produce gas, such as sulfur and nitrogen, and acids that are detectable in the form of odors. The larger the amount of organic material present, the stronger the odor can become. The odor also lingers until the organic material has completed the decomposition process.

Sewage spillage under a slab is one example of organic decomposition. When a sewage pipe is ruptured and leaks or spills under the concrete slab or in a crawl space, the organic material starts to break down and produce gas. This gas will soon be detectable as an odor.

Likewise, material in unkempt grease traps and floor drains produces "sewer gas" when the material inside begins to go through the decomposition process. This creates another "pest" odor. Trash and debris left in the bottom of a dumpster produce the same problem for the same reasons.

So, proper odor management involves good sanitation practices. Other management techniques should be used, but may not be successful without the sanitation element.

Sometimes, pests themselves cause odors. If a rodent becomes trapped and expires, for example, odors will be released as soon as the decomposition process begins, as with any organic material. In terms of producing odor, size matters. Smaller rodents like mice typically do not have a very noticeable or long-lasting odor because the amount of fluid in the body is very small. Their bodies dry out quickly and the odor-causing bacteria become inactive. When that occurs, the ability to produce gas stops and the odor goes away. Conversely, a larger rodent will produce a more intense and longer lasting odor if it expires anywhere inside your hotel and begins to decompose.

Another problem with odors is that they can attract insects and other pests that otherwise may not have been attracted to your hotel. Odor management is critical to managing a number of insects including houseflies and blowflies that can annoy guests and compromise your hotel's reputation.

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