Blocking the "neighbor smell" that comes in through the bathroom?

Luckily in my building they don’t allow smoking, but my neighbors love cooking their stinky ass Chinese food and it comes in through the bathroom.

Every time I come home it smells like whatever they happen to be cooking. Strangely enough they keep it rather consistent, but I’d much rather not be at the whim of their cooking.

I’ve cello-taped paper towels on the floor drain near the sink and the air vent in the ceiling, with the only drains left being the ones water flow through: the sink and the shower. I even tried covering the shower drain up with a removable (although not ideal since hard) plastic cover. It’s not enough. I’m not even sure it helps.

What can be done to stop this?

Is there a false ceiling?

Just burn a candle or a stick of incense.


How could I have been so NAÏVE

There’s even an entry panel, which after pushing up I feel cold air coming in.

What do I do for a non-permanent solution? I don’t think my landlord would appreciate me caulking up the whole thing. Would more tape and possibly paper towels (to “absorb”) work, or is there a special faux ceiling fix?

Block up the whole vent in the true ceiling. You can clear it out easily when you leave. Your local handyman should be able to do it for cheap with air conditioning duct type stuff. The only problem is if the false ceiling is totally in the way.

If you block up the vent then you may find your bathroom can’t get shed of moisture. The cold air you feel coming in also brings in drier air (usually).

If you block it you also might look into getting a dehumidifier for the space.

You could try leaving the bathroom extractor fan on all the time (assuming it’s in the false ceiling) to encourage air to flow out rather than in. A more expensive option is to get a one way vent to cover the actual vent hole however suggest sealing it up first for a couple of days to check if that is actually where the smell is coming in.

If you have false ceilings and central air it’s likely there are multiple vents to a common building vent. If it’s a newer building your neighbours are either not using an extractor fan when cooking or it’s incorrectly plumbed.

@tempogain that seems like the solution, could you clarify what they’re supposed to do? I don’t speak Chinese so I can’t just point and grunt my way into getting somebody over here.

If I understand it right, they would just use thick tape to seal the hole in the ceiling that connects to the shiny hose, then seal the end of the hose too? Maybe multiple ones like @SuperS54 said (by the way I tried keeping mY own fan on and it has no effect)

@bojack if I do the above, wouldn’t keeping the bathroom door open be enough to disperse the moisture? That’s how we used to do it in the “old country”. My bathroom doesn’t have its own window.

@bojack makes a good point, I’ve only had it done in a “dry” bathroom that wasn’t used for showering. Not sure if this may prove to be annoying otherwise. This was in a 12-story building with central ventilation shafts.

I’m a little unsure what you’re asking. Can you see the vent? Is it easily accessible? There’s a hose?

There is a false ceiling. There’s A panel access to the real one. In that is mostly concrete and one of those metallic looking big flexible HVAC style ribbed hose things that connects to the hole in the concrete. There may be more than one port, I didn’t spend too much time looking up there because of the wiring.

The apartment uses those 2 piece air conditioner units, so it’s not central air, except the ventilation I the bathroom like you said, from which the neighbors food smell comes from. Last night they had pizza, the first time in months they didn’t cook. Their shampoo smells like fucking prickly heat

I am trying to understand what is supposed to be done about it, just tape up the connection/ventilation points?

Yeah the entire vent (fengkou in Chinese) would have to be sealed off. Mine was done with tape and plastic sheeting. Could the hose be pushed back into the vent so it won’t obstruct things? I assume so. What is it connected to, the exhaust fan?

Is it a big building with a guanli setup?

The hose fits around the duct - and from memory, loosely, so perhaps it could be disconnected and left in the empty space, then just block up the hole.

I didn’t check what was connected to the actual fan but that hose was going the other direction (nothing in that direction) and didn’t see the end of it. Probably connected to nothing - and the fan too - given the situation. I’m not at home now to confirm.

What do you mean by plastic sheeting?

It’s a big building, what’s a guanli?

Like a kind of plastic cardboard these guys use.

The security guards and the associated committee that makes various decisions about building management. If you complain to them they may help you address it. It shouldn’t be happening really.

Yeah there is something like that. Security for sure, Bylaws and such in so far as that concept is allowed to exist here - “bysuggestions” more like.

I complained to the management when the smell was neighbors smoking and they posted notices until the offender read it and stopped, but they said nothing more they could do about the smoke smell, and that the food smell was normal and they can’t enforce anything. Didn’t occur at least to me for them to fix anything in the apartment since it’s the same mechanism.

Weird that the neighbors food smell coming into your apartment is normal, much less smoke. There’s probably some issue with their venting setup. Tell them you need them to block your vent if they can’t resolve it.

I get where you’re coming from but it took months to even get them to put up a paper notice telling people not to smoke, another several months for an unresolved noise issue. Just thinking about that process exhausts me.

There’s no thing they’re going to do inside the actual apartment for sure. I really assumed for a while that it’s just normal here - I know other parts of Asia have it worse with actual sewage smell because of no U-joints - but I just can’t stand it anymore.

Just thinking about motivating them to do something invigorates me :slight_smile: But my Chinese is up to it. I hear you. Get a guy to come in and give you a quote. I’d get a local friend to help you if possible. If they have easy access to the vent to do the work, it shouldn’t cost more than a thousand or so, I’d figure.

Again though, I can’t be sure of the ramifications in your shower room. But if it’s bothering you that much, it doesn’t seem like too hard a choice.

Many buildings have a pipe shaft that connects every floor, all stink (and roaches) from the lower floors go up.

Hi all. Posting here because this thread essentially describes our current problem. We’re going crazy and about to just move out until problem is fixed, but hope to avoid that drastic step and associated costs and headaches…

Much of the bad odor may be getting in through our false ceiling (and/or coming through cracks in walls, floor etc.) However, we don’t have option of sealing up the false ceiling as the AC system for our apartment resides there so that would mean we seal our air conditioning, too! Can anyone recommend a contractor or company that deals with building-wide issues like this? We’re thinking for starters just get building to install fans at roof to suck all odor straight up vs. let it waft into various apartments along the way so easily. We’d especially welcome tips on who can help or dos and don’ts with this approach!

Our building is about 13 stories and no doubt shared vents from other floors let us endure a variety of odors/smells ranging from terrible toilet/sewer smell to shampoo, to old grease and other food odors (usually more like food waste vs. cooked fresh food).

We also have an extra, related issue: mold (or “mould”). Sometimes we smell in the basement parking garage. Sometimes near elevator at first floor lobby. Sometimes at other floors, generally in elevator lobby area. And when we recently left town for a few days and left apartment closed, we came back to overwhelming mold odor INSIDE our own apartment. Concern is more about health impact of breathing mold spores than the unpleasant smell. We seek someone who can not only clean the mold throughout building, but also prevent moisture from leaking into and colllecting inside the building (whether from outside, from pipes inside, or otherwise) so the mold doesn’t come back).

We realize tolerance of odor and mold issues here is much higher than elsewhere. (My mother-in-law basically says it’s our problem (apparently we’re imaging it! or perhaps everyone else is either oblivious or assumes that’s the normal state of things.) We get that. Nonetheless, we want to find expert(s) who can help with the issues:

  1. General smells leaking into our apartment from neighbors (priority one, so we can sleep through night vs. wake up to neighbor’s stench from toilet etc).
  2. Mold - find and remove it and thus remove the source of smell too.
  3. Fix leaks to prevent future water seeping into building walls/floors/ceilings and causing mold to return.

Many thanks from me and my family for any referrals and/or advice!

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