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Old 09-11-2016, 22:05   #1
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Dealing with paint fumes

My boat's integral keel is made of steel punchings encased in epoxy for all but one small section in the forward cabin where the previous owner and builder of my boat chose to encase the steel punching in paintsf (probably 2 pack polyurethane). While there is no smell at all in the cabin itself, the paint smell in the bilge under the floorboards is quite overwhelming. We would like to be able to use the precious space under the floor to store children toys to rotate each month, but the smell is bad enough that it permeates the kids toys. I'm also not terribly keen on any sort of strong fumes being present in the boat even if they seem very well contained under the floor.

I'm trying to figure out the best way to remediate the problem and am looking for suggestions. I have thought maybe mixing up a gallon or two of epoxy and simply pouring a coat over the top of the paint to encase it?

Thoughts?
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Old 09-11-2016, 23:23   #2
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

How old is the paint? It seems uncommon that it should be outgassing for very long after initial cure. So, I am wondering if there could be a different source of the fumes? Like a slow leak in an acetone or other volatile solvent in a locker somewhere, where the heavier than air fumes could drain into the bilge. May be a stretch to imagine that, but IME two-pot PE paints don't behave as you describe.

If it is the paint itself outgassing, removal may be the only means of getting rid of the smell.

Jim
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Old 09-11-2016, 23:47   #3
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

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How old is the paint? It seems uncommon that it should be outgassing for very long after initial cure.
I have no way of finding out unfortunately, but it's definitely the paint. There are no chemicals of that type anywhere on the boat. And no chemical whatsoever in the forward sections where the fumes are.

The previous owner did give the deck a coat of single pack polyurethane shortly before I purchased her... But I doubt he would have poured the excess in the forward bilge... That would be kind of dumb as you would expect it to stink for a very long time afterwards and he was no idiot.

What do you think of my idea of encasing in a layer of epoxy? Surely that would just seal in the old paint fumes forever?
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Old 10-11-2016, 00:00   #4
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

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I have no way of finding out unfortunately, but it's definitely the paint. There are no chemicals of that type anywhere on the boat. And no chemical whatsoever in the forward sections where the fumes are.

The previous owner did give the deck a coat of single pack polyurethane shortly before I purchased her... But I doubt he would have poured the excess in the forward bilge... That would be kind of dumb as you would expect it to stink for a very long time afterwards and he was no idiot.

What do you think of my idea of encasing in a layer of epoxy? Surely that would just seal in the old paint fumes forever?
PW, I just don't know! It might work, but the fumes, whatever solvent they are, might just permeate the epoxy. Your query is reasonable, but out of my pay grade!

Sorry I can be of no great help, but perhaps some more knowledgeable CFer will see your plea and respond.

good luck, mate!

Jim

Later thought: is the paint seemingly fully cured? Hard and glossy? If there is any question about that, heat and ventilation might stimulate further curing and drive off the solvents. Something like infra red lamps and a big box fan for a few hours.
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Old 10-11-2016, 00:03   #5
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

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Later thought: is the paint seemingly fully cured? Hard and glossy? If there is any question about that, heat and ventilation might stimulate further curing and drive off the solvents. Something like infra red lamps and a big box fan for a few hours.
It's actually still a little but sticky and a little bit soft meaning I could make an indentation in it with my nail, not what you'd expect from cured 2 pack. What you're saying makes a lot of sense, will give it a go with a heater and ventilation this weekend.

Cheers!
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Old 10-11-2016, 03:48   #6
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

I’m with Jim in thinking that you’ve got some uncured paint in there. As unfortunately there are some crap paints which never fully cure. Or if they do, they take an exceedingly long time to do so. I had the misfortune of using one once, & then had to put on my space suit so that I could it them out of the bilge. IE. protective gear, especially the respirator so that I didn’t inhale/ingest uncured solvents.

So I’d say that they need removing, & then you can see where to go from there. Just don’t try & remove them by using harsh paint strippers. As some strippers can & will damage, or remove epoxy, & fiberglass. So check their labels, & online available info & reviews
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Old 10-11-2016, 10:02   #7
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

Beware! It might be flammable or more toxic with heating. Epoxy, epoxy resin, hardener or thinner (acetone) more likely hardener or acetone, might react with the uncured paint. Seek professional advice from the paint manufacturer or the maker of what you are going to try and encase it with (free of charge).

You need to check carefully before you just cover with something and hope the fumes will go away! It could be that it never cured properly because of the wrong mix of hardener to paint (or a resin). Warming the area (without a naked element, spark and well below the flash point might speed up/complete the curing process) but again be careful especially if children are sharing the fumes. Fan heaters and other electric motors eg vacuum cleaners can spark and may cause a fire, especially down below in a closed space or near petrol fumes etc!

Good luck ... interested to hear how you get on - some mixtures never really cure especially at low temperatures.
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Old 10-11-2016, 10:24   #8
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

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Originally Posted by pwillems View Post
It's actually still a little but sticky and a little bit soft meaning I could make an indentation in it with my nail, not what you'd expect from cured 2 pack. What you're saying makes a lot of sense, will give it a go with a heater and ventilation this weekend.

Cheers!
It should not smell. I think you are right, some paint is uncured or the PO did pour some in the bilge etc. You need to find the non hard paint and remove it. Scrape as much soft off as you can, remove as much other with rags and MEK or whatever your solvent of choice is. Have a sparkless fan ventilating the cabin from front to back.
DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner anywhere while using solvent.
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Old 10-11-2016, 12:48   #9
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

A quick question! Does the boat have spray foam insulation? If it does, decomposing spray foam gives off chemical fumes - check that this is not your problem! Some of the foams give of fumes that smell a bit like paint fumes. Just a thought.
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Old 10-11-2016, 13:43   #10
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

My thought is just really poor ventilation. I've smelled curing resin in boats that were over 20 years old.

Scratch you brain and see if there is not some way to rig a computer fan to move air through there for a while (I'm assuming you live aboard and cannot just leave it open). Most bilges could really use better ventilation.
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Old 10-11-2016, 17:59   #11
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

Be carefully of 2 pack fumes.

Be careful with your children breathing any fumes.

Peter.
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Old 12-11-2016, 10:15   #12
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Re: Dealing with paint fumes

Just did the bilge a week ago, w/bilgecoat - it's great stuff. It was fully cured within 36hrs. Yours sounds like the wrong kind of paint for a bilge that never cured.

Make sure you wear a respirator with good cartridges. 3m reps will tell you to keep them airtight in a ziploc when not being used and always test them before you start a big job (they don't have a lot of life - but cheaper than getting sick, right?). Made that mistake once - it's like a heinous, puking hangover without the fun.

Keep the kids and pets on deck.
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