SERVPRO, Santa Maria, Water Damage Specialists, Report ‘What To Do When A Skunk Gets Under The House’
Skunks, like a lot of wildlife, have adapted to civilization and can be seen wandering through neighborhoods, usually at night. They are usually not a problem unless one becomes trapped under the house then “the smell can get into everything else in the house,” said Mark Powers, owner of the SERVPRO Santa Maria water damage company.
Most of the time, unless the family dog gets involved, skunks come and go with only a slight trace of their aromatic presence. A skunk living on the property, especially under the house, can leave an odor that just does not go away. A skunk that gets under the house and sprays is most likely going to create an odor that seems to invade everything in the house.
Skunk odor is not easy to get rid of—just ask anyone whose dog stuck its nose too close to a skunk! Skunk spray is produced by the animal’s anal glands and contains oily volatile chemical compounds. The stinky compounds are primarily thiols and thioacetates, both rich in sulphur. Sulphur atoms have a way of bonding to other atoms and this is what makes the smell so hard to eliminate.
The good news, if there is any, is that once sprayed, it can take up to a week for the skunk to replenish its spray. But that doesn’t always mean there are no concerns for another week. Male skunks, spray during the mating season from February to March. Apparently the guy skunks think the spray discourages other males while attracting females? Then, the female has 4 to 6 kits that stay with her for up to 8 months, reportedly spraying each other just for fun. So, there are a lot of reasons a skunk can stink up the property and contents of the house.
So, how to get the skunk smell out of the house? Tomato juice is pretty much a myth, plus no one wants tomato juice on the carpet on purpose. Powers, the Santa Maria water damage expert with SERVPRO, said, “Getting the smell off the dog is one thing, completely deodorizing the contents of a house requires a completely different approach.”
SERVPRO specialists get the house smelling a fresh as new again. First, the company helps start a homeowner’s insurance claim and helps monitor that claim through the entire process. The entire deodorizing process includes:
- Identifying everything that needs to be treated, including furniture, carpet, curtains, clothing and anything else the skunk oil has landed on. Insulation and the space under the house may also have been affected.
- Treating the affected items. SERVPRO uses proven technology for deodorization that completely eliminates the smell instead of just masking it. The process is relatively quick, but may require the family be out of the home for a day or two.
- Fully ventilating the house after treatment to be sure the family returns to a fresh home.
Upon discovering a skunk or a family of skunks has invaded the property, SERVPRO recommends the following steps:
- Call SERVPRO to get the deodorization and insurance claim process started.
- Call animal control or wildlife rescue to get the skunks removed.
- Get any pets that have been sprayed cleaned up and deodorized. Veterinarians or groomers can get the smell off pets or recommend the appropriate solution for doing it yourself.
- If pets have not been sprayed, contain them so they don’t go skunk hunting.
- Consider a short family vacation if the smell is unbearable. Pack washable changes of clothes in plastic bags to be washed before wearing.
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