Homeowner calls 7 On Your Side over strange smell

April 13, 2011 7:14:46 PM PDT
They say a good reporter develops a nose for news, but no amount of training prepared me for what I had to sniff out for this one.

When the email came into our offices, I'm not sure if anyone believed it, but as we found out, smelling is believing.

Shirley Chin jumped at the chance to buy an Oakland home. Her bedroom should be one of her favorite places to hang out, except for one problem.

"You know it's not pleasant waking up in the morning to the smell of BO [body odor]. I mean, if you like hanging out in locker rooms, I suppose it's not a big deal," said Chin.

Shirley says the smell is particularly strong on sunny days.

"We called it the BO ghost, the body odor ghost, because it comes and goes," said Chin.

At first she thought sweaty contractors had left the smell behind in her home, but then she decided the smell came from her new blinds.

"If you get up close, it stinks," said Chin.

Shirley purchased these new blinds for her bedroom shortly after moving in. She loved the color, but with that lovely color, came the problem.

"It's kind of a funny problem, unless it happens to you," said Chin.

We noticed the musty smell soon after we took the first step into Chin's bedroom. It's a problem that has people scratching their heads.

"This particular case is a mystery to us," said Scott Swift, the vice president of Hunter Douglas.

Hunter Douglas is the company that manufactures the blinds Chin bought.

"This is a very unique situation. Any type of odor that we have with our products is very rare, lasting more than a day," said Swift.

Local distributer National Blinds tried to help Chin with her predicament. It sent the blinds back to the Hunter Douglas factory for inspection. Two separate factories looked at the blinds. Both concluded, it don't smell and suggested Chin's windows might be the problem.

"But to do absolutely nothing and to tell me it's nothing and tell me it's my windows, that kind of made me mad," said Chin.

So she called 7 On Your Side and we called Hunter Douglas. The company now suspects the smell is indeed coming from the blinds.

"The heat might play a role in some of the out-gassing of the particular inks that are used in the printing process. Normally it dissipates in a day or two. In this particular case, have it continue, that's something that's unusual," said Swift.

Hunter Douglas has since replaced Chin's blinds at no additional cost.

"Well, it's nice not to have to wake up and have to wonder if you're going to smell the ghost. So I've enjoyed having my new blinds," said Chin.

Hunter Douglas says it plans to investigate the problem further, but suspects the smell is an isolated problem with just that fabric. As for Chin, she's just happy the smell is gone.

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