Stinky, stinky speakers

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Kenneth Patchen

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Stinky, stinky speakers
« on: 24 Jan 2019, 03:57 am »
This is a question about speaker drivers and getting rid of a very strong mildew/mold damp basement smell.

My neighbor accidentally lucked into getting his dream speakers, the KEF 107s, at a ridiculously inexpensive price. (Basically they were almost free to the first person who would come and get them out of the basement of a deceased friend’s house.) The cabinets are in pristine condition as are the grills. The surrounds seem fine. Knowing that the speakers haven’t been played in years, Bill has begun to slowly and quietly play them to test the drivers. All drivers are working as they should and after a week of gentle play they are really singing.

But ... man, they stink. I mean they really stink. They stink of that Grandma’s damp musty dank basement smell. They made my eyes water just helping him move them down into his basement where they are temporarily because his wife won’t have them in the house proper until the smell is gone. So Bill has been repeatedly cleaning the cabinets with a wood cleaner a carpenter friend gave him. But they still smell, perhaps not as much but they still smell. I suggested he remove the drivers and the crossovers and just focus on the cabinets. Cabinets can always be refinished. Grill cloth can be replaced. But what about the drivers themselves especially those big 107 bass woofers? Surely the smell must be in them as well? What are his options for cleaning them? What about an ionizer treatment?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

KP
« Last Edit: 24 Jan 2019, 11:00 am by Kenneth Patchen »

JohnR

Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #1 on: 24 Jan 2019, 04:57 am »
I'd have thought removing the drivers would be the next thing to do. Might be some work though to remove the bass drivers - ?

http://www.allegrosound.com/KEF_R-107_lt-2.jpg

http://www.allegrosound.com/KEF_R-107_AllegroSound.html

Tone Depth

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #2 on: 24 Jan 2019, 05:45 am »
Check batting/stuffing recipe nsede cabinets yet?

Kenneth Patchen

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #3 on: 24 Jan 2019, 11:37 am »
I'd have thought removing the drivers would be the next thing to do. Might be some work though to remove the bass drivers - ?

http://www.allegrosound.com/KEF_R-107_lt-2.jpg

http://www.allegrosound.com/KEF_R-107_AllegroSound.html

Yeah, I was kinda insistent that we take them apart because I knew how much fun that would be. Bill wasn’t so sure even after we watched several very helpful youtube videos. But we did it anyway and all went well. Tonedepth the interior foam/batting was very stinky so we replaced it. Bill was given some paperwork including a baggie of receipts that show there was some restoration work done in 2002 and the surrounds and donuts look good. We didn’t spend too much time cleaning the inside wood of the cabinets  :duh: thinking the foam was the problem (and we should have done so and I’m sure we’ll now have to take them apart again)  :thumb:

We weren’t focusing on the drivers at the time thinking it was the cabinets and interior foam that was the problem. But isn’t it probable that the mildew smell has penetrated the cones? If the smell will get into wood, why wouldn’t it get into the cones? If so what to do?

And would using a Killz primer/sealer mildew killing paint on the inside of the cabinets dramatically alter the cabinet acoustics?

Thanks again,
KP




Doublej

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #4 on: 24 Jan 2019, 12:34 pm »
Might the use of ozone help? If mold has infiltrated the cones then that will have to be dealt with first.

https://www.a2zozone.com/blogs/how-to/a-complete-guide-to-odor-removal

dynaflo

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #5 on: 24 Jan 2019, 12:51 pm »
Might try putting a box of baking soda inside the cabinets.   

mav52

Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #6 on: 24 Jan 2019, 01:33 pm »
Sounds like a mold problem.  Which means they will have to be taken apart and cleaned and some parts replaced.  Nothing will get rid of mold expect its permanent removal and that means from all of those little hidden spots or it JUST COMES BACK.

Elizabeth

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #7 on: 24 Jan 2019, 01:48 pm »
Smell may be coming from the inside of the speakers... So yeah taking them apart is a requirement.. YOU might need to be careful though. the stink when you take off the drivers might near kill you? Fill the entire house with a powerful stink...
Also IMO febreze is a great product. take the stink out of the air anyway. I spray up over my head to clear odors... Febreze really kills a stink. Febreze also might take the stink out of the surface of the speaker woofer. Spray on a cloth and wipe. repeat. I would not get the cone wet though..

mresseguie

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #8 on: 24 Jan 2019, 03:10 pm »
My situation is different, but this may be worth looking into:

One of my rentals had some black mold in the boards beneath the roof, so I hired a restoration/hazmat/mold remover guy to clean it out. He used a hydrogen peroxide spray to kill all the mold (it passed inspection!). His hydrogen peroxide solution is stronger than over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide, but (according to him) even the over-the-counter solution will kill a lot of mold.

You could apply the hydrogen peroxide on the cones in a small test patch just in case it causes discoloration. Spraying it on the inside walls of the cabinets would be simple. If the smell persists, spray a second time, or try a bleach/water mix. Killing the mold will kill the smell.

Good luck!

Kenneth Patchen

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #9 on: 24 Jan 2019, 03:11 pm »
Thanks all for these helpful suggestions; doublej that’s a very useful site. The only negative I’ve read about ozone is that they could accelerate deterioation of surrounds. He could at least try the tenting method to treat the hood cloth and see how that goes. Since they’re not my speakers I can only recommend that he take the drivers apart but perhaps as a last resort. Febreeze is a good suggestion and I’m sure he’ll do some additional research before trying. Is Febreeze actually killing odors or just covering up? This stink may be beyond baking soda but it wouldn’t hurt to try it.

I’m purely a headphone guy having given up my two channel system years ago. The only speakers here now are actives in my grandaughters’ room. I’ve never done any audio dyi so what I don’t know about speaker design and construction is a lot but I do like to take things apart and hopefully but them back together correctly. I don’t want to ruin a friendship by offering him bad advice.

Any thoughts on painting the interior with Killz ?

And there are these products:
http://noodor.com/p/basement-smell-odor-musty-remedy-mildew-dog-damp.html


https://www.petsmart.com/cat/litter-and-waste-disposal/deodorizers-and-filters/natures-miracle-odor-control-cat-litter-box-charcoal-filter-5158797.html


Kinda funny but you would think that with all the discussion/threads on the various forums about speaker wire, ICs, speaker wire, binding posts, speaker wire, dacs, speaker wire, footers, etc., you would think there would be more info on this.


Thanks again and take care,
KP

thunderbrick

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #10 on: 24 Jan 2019, 03:16 pm »
Open 'em up again, wipe down the interior of the cabinets with an anti-microbial solution or hydrogen peroxide?

Put 'em in large plastic bags with lots of baking soda, leave 'em sealed for a few weeks?

Seal the interior with polyurethane?

Put Bose labels on them and call it good?

 :scratch:

Letitroll98

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #11 on: 24 Jan 2019, 05:03 pm »
Maybe a furniture restoration web site.  I don't know of any, but they can't be hard to find.  The probably have a whole section on mold and wood.

Elizabeth

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #12 on: 24 Jan 2019, 05:56 pm »
febreze really destroys the odor. Not cover it up like way too many 'air fresheners.
Sadly the automotive clip-on 'Febreze brand ARE just garbage cover up stink stuff. I keep a regular spray bottle of Febreze in the car and spritz a little every time I get out.

Rusty Jefferson

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #13 on: 24 Jan 2019, 06:16 pm »
I can't imagine it's mold inside the cabinets if the exterior of them was perfect as you originally stated, and the home you removed them from wasn't a disaster.  It's more likely that the stuffing material is decomposing, especially if it was foam.

Take them back apart,  lay out the drivers on a table, and blow a fan into the cabinets and over the drivers for a few weeks. If the cabinet interior still stinks, paint it to seal the wood. It won't hurt the acoustic output.  Getting the replacement foam fill right could have a big impact though.  Whatever you replaced the original fill with, I'd throw away now also.

Rusty Jefferson

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #14 on: 24 Jan 2019, 06:22 pm »
...or a dead mouse or two in the fill, but again, if their condition is perfect, the home was likely pretty nice.

richidoo

Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #15 on: 24 Jan 2019, 08:04 pm »
Air ionizer makes some ozone but not enough to disinfect anything. Ozone strong enough to mediate mold dissolves rubber, so that's not ideal for drivers which have rubber surround.

Alcohol kills mold. It will penetrate paper and cloth, evaporate quickly and kill mold and doesn't start corrosion. If it is pure alcohol (90%) then it won't cause any wrinkling of paper cone. Cheap rubbing alcohol is 30% water. Alcohol is safe on metal surfaces. Use a spray bottle to blast it down into the hard to reach spots. Let it dry before using them, especially on old paper cones that might be weakened by the mold.  If it's paper cones you have to be careful what you spray on them. If there is a binder in the paper that is soluble in alcohol you could kill the cone.  Alcohol is usually less solvent than petroleum cleaners but you might want to test a small spot to see if it weakens it when wet. After it dries it should be strong again, but if the cone has internal stress at idle or if it is weakened by mold then wetting it with water or alcohol could allow it to change shape.

Borax dissolved in water is a good mold killer, it penetrates paper and wood and leaves behind borax residue that prevents future mold growth, but it is a corrosive salt, so you have to be careful around metal parts. It dries slowly so metal corrosion is a factor to consider. The water might warp or wrinkle paper cones. I would just use borax to saturate the inside of the wooden cabinets, but not near any of the screw holes.

Concrobium is another mold killer. If mold smell persists in the cabinet after borax you could paint this on to encapsulate it.
Good luck

Don_S

Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #16 on: 24 Jan 2019, 09:10 pm »
Isopropyl alcohol is easily found in drugstores and pharmacy sections of other stores at a 70% alcohol concentration and will not contain additives sometimes found in rubbing alcohol.

Hydrogen peroxide is H2O2.  Great for disinfecting and it does not leave any chemical residue. But you are still dealing with the water part since it is usually only readily available in dilute solutions. So it could probably be used on the cabinet interior. Use on drivers?  Scary.

If you cannot see mold or mildew on the drivers I would concentrate on the cabinet interior and acoustic foam.

Good luck.


yeldarb

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #17 on: 24 Jan 2019, 10:55 pm »
You used to be able to find sachets' at WalMart or Kmart that outgas formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is used to kill fungus and mold in chicken houses (and keeps corpses pretty).  If you can find the stuff, sealing one in the speaker with plastic wrap might work well.  You will need to ventilate it well after a period of time.  I used to store books and clothing in plastic bags using this stuff, and even in an unheated moist place, never had mold or mildew.  Stunk like hell when I opened the bags but the odor will lessen with exposure to fresh air.

If all else fails contact KEF.

jules

Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #18 on: 25 Jan 2019, 12:47 am »
Long term, if you can reduce the mold by some of treatments suggested above you're still left with the problem of it coming back [as mav52 said above].

UV light can keep mold at bay so maybe some internal UV lighting would help, as well as creating an irresistable disco atmosphere. The humidity of the room will be key as well.

Formaldehyde is a rather nasty substance that can cause breathing and other health problems. Possibly not a good choice in this situation.

barryso

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Re: Stinky, stinky speakers
« Reply #19 on: 25 Jan 2019, 01:28 pm »
Take them apart as you'll need to replace the stuffing in the cabinet.

While they are apart put a small bowl of white vinegar in the cabinets and let that sit overnight.  Don't let the vinegar touch anything just leave it in the bowl.  Repeat this a few times as needed.
,,
White vinegar sucks up odors like magic.  It was the only thing that helped my house after an amp self destructed and left an acrid smell throughout the place.  Tried a lot of things (cleaners, Febreze, etc.) but placing bowls of vinegar all over the house overnight cleared the odor by morning.