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Old 09-30-2014, 04:38 PM   #1
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Formaldehyde smell

OK. I new to the FR site. Howdy to all...!
Just read all I could find regarding the "formaldehyde smell" folks have experienced and all flippant and really non-informative responses aside, we have a significant problem!

I purchased a 2005 (built in 04) Cedar Creek, 34RLTS, 5th wheel used 6 years ago.
The owner then was desperate to sell it due to his wife having respiratory problems and be hospitalized with high medical bills, he said.
When we looked through the RV just prior to the purchase all the windows and vents were open and everything looked, and smell, great. The interior had just been sprayed with a deodorizer. The purchase was made ($19,500.00..pretty cheap I thought) and we drove it home. Next morning we opened her up and were practically over come by the smell, which was later identified by a bio chemist as formaldehyde! He warned us about the carcinogenic aspects of long term exposure to the smell. (I began to understand why the previous owner sold it so cheap.)
Since then we have made two trips to the Yukon and one to Key West and a variety of other excursions.
We have ALWAYS experienced the formaldehyde smell to one degree of another. It appears that a lot of folks are willing to accept the problem as "new trailer smell" and ignore the potential hazards of long term exposure.
I am quite aware that FR is aware of the formaldehyde odor problem, though they have claimed ignorance to me and can offer no help in eliminating the problem.
Our odor problem seems to come predominately from inside the overhead cabinets at the very rear of the unit. What has been suggested on other forums and web searches is to varnish the insides of the cabinets with Varathane and/or place charcoal odor absorbing bags within the cabinets. (I have some on odor as I write.)

So, here's my question: Has anyone found a method or product that will eliminate the odor for good without just covering it up?

I need some good sound advise...

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Old 09-30-2014, 04:56 PM   #2
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Manufacturers use that in the glue that they use. Your right it's not good for you. As far as I know it can't be totally eliminated. being 6 years old I would have thought it would be gone. If you have isolated it to the cabinets, the only choice I see is to replace them. There is also people such as company's that come in and seal them same as if it was a fire. Sorry but that's all I can think to do being 6 years old it should have been gone by now. Good Luck, but you did atleast get a good price, so maybe a little extra and you can have a great trailer.

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Old 09-30-2014, 05:12 PM   #3
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I just checked RV.NET Site and this is what the forum said:
RV.Net Open Roads Forum: How to remove Trailer Odor ??? Formaldehyde ??
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Old 09-30-2014, 05:29 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses. BTW, the unit is 10 years old, built in 04.
Something I forgot to mention is that the problem is so bad the odor will and has permeated sealed cereal boxes, potato chip bags, plastic containers and imparted the smell to those food products should we forget to remove them after a trip and makes them totally uneatable.
I just received the odor absorbing product. It's called "Smelleze". It's touted as a "formaldehyde absorbent". I let you know how it works in a few days.
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Old 09-30-2014, 05:43 PM   #5
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That's a stench above and beyond 'Normal brand new' RV smell. That only lasts 6 months at best. Check for dead bodies....
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Old 09-30-2014, 06:43 PM   #6
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I do not think what you are smelling is formaldehyde. Some home improvement stores sold test kits several years ago not sure if they still do. You would leave it in the area to be tested for exposure for a specified time period them send it off to a lab & your results would come back in the mail.

Formaldehyde is not used in glues as much as it once was. It would mostly be in the paneling or particle board glue.

We have owned a 1973, 1988, 2006, and a 2013 & not noticed the odor after a few weeks & not at all in the 2013. The 2006 was a year old when we purchased it.

I really fell like you have a leak inside the walls somewhere, sure it is not a mold smell ? but that is just my 2 cents......

Good Luck & Welcome to the site !!!!!!!!


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Old 09-30-2014, 07:18 PM   #7
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I agree. After 10 years you would think the glue and materials used during construction would have dissipated by now. I would think it is something else and mold is the one that comes to mind. There was a youtube video that explained what to look for when buying a used RV and one of the things he did was open the cabinet and smell. He claimed you could smell the mold. It could very well be in the walls.

You may want to remove a fixture or a panel and get a look inside the wall to check for mold.

Good luck.


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Old 09-30-2014, 07:29 PM   #8
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You may contact a restoration company and see about having them "clean" the RV with an ozone generator.
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Old 09-30-2014, 07:42 PM   #9
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I've been in the kitchen cabinet industry for over 20 years, whatever your smell is it isn't formaldehyde it would have off gassed in the first 6 months.
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Old 09-30-2014, 08:56 PM   #10
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boil vanilla extract in water on the stove. Let cool oders should be less, repeat as needed pour water down sinks and toilet to help freshen those also.
Put on cotton balls and place wherever the strong smell is. This takes care of cigarette smells, animal smells and urine smells. ( I have used this in diaper pails with cloth diapers and it worked)

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