How To Stop Smells From Coming Through Vents in Apartment [7 Tips That Work]

Living in an apartment complex can be great because you can enjoy a lot of conveniences, such as easy access to public transportation, urban vibes (depending of your location), and a generally more affordable place (when compared to buying).

However, it’s not without its drawbacks. One of them could be unpleasant smells from your neighbor’s’ pad, which can invade your home through interconnected vents.

While certainly annoying, there are a number of things you can do to remedy the situation.

In this article, I am going to cover some of the best strategies to address smells coming through in vents to your apartment.

If you don’t have time to read through it all, here’s the summary of what you can do stop these types of smells from permeating through your apartment.

  • Manually Install Charcoal Filters to Cover Vents
  • Try to Work Out a Diplomatic Solution With Your Neighbor
  • Change Filters in Your HVAC
  • Clean Out Air Ducts
  • Use Air Purifiers
  • Seal Gaps and Cracks
  • Hire a Pro

Ok, we’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it!

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

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1. Manually Install Charcoal Filter to Cover Vents

Charcoal filters are highly effective at reducing odors and are used in a variety of contexts for this purpose. But many people don’t realize that you don’t have to find the perfect-sized filter to take advantage of its odor reducing qualities.

Obviously, the vent in your apartment that is bringing in those undesired odors may be sized irregularly or in a hard to find size. Not to worry – you can always find the perfect fitting charcoal filter by simply buying a cut-to-fit charcoal filter sheet.

Simply cut it to the shape of your vent and attach it to the vent cover. Here’s one that gets good ratings on Amazon and is reasonably priced.

If you’d like a step by step video showing how to do this, check this one out.

2. Work Out a Diplomatic Solution With Your Neighbor

Another option is to simply talk with your neighbor who is causing the smells.

I always try to assume positive intent. They may not even know that smells from their apartment are reaching you. So remember to be polite when talking with them – after all, you still have to live next to them (or near them).

Explain the problem to them and see if they would be open to stopping (or at least cutting down on) the activity that is causing the odors. They may say no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I have found that most people will be at least a little more mindful (and choose to not do the offending activity as often) once they know that is going to cause distress with their neighbors.

3. Check Your Air Filter

A dirty air filter can also lead to odors in your residence.

If the air filter in your HVAC system is not working properly, airflow may be reduced and odors may linger in your home. You should frequently check and replace them it as necessary.

This is a straightforward and cost-effective fix that may help reduce odors in your home.

4. Clean Your Vents

It’s possible that smell from your vents may not even be coming from your neighbor. If an animal has died in the vents or there is build up of mold, that can also cause bad odors to waft through your vents.

The best way to address this situation is to get them cleaned by a professional. Your landlord may be willing to take care of this for you, so reach out to them if you think the vents need cleaning.

5. Use Air Purifiers

Air purifiers can be a great way to remove unwanted odors from your place.

They will filter the air in your home and remove particles that could cause odors. Many of them use activated carbon filters, which (similar to charcoal filters) are great at getting rid of unpleasant smells.

Obviously, there are tons of options to choose from here, so select one that matches the size of your place and your budget.

6. Seal Gaps and Cracks

If you’re still having issues, do a final check for any gaps or cracks near your vent.

If you find any, obviously, seal them up with caulk or other appropriate fillers (but remember to check with your landlord first).

7. Hire a Professional

If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still not getting the results you want, it may be time to call in some professional help.

A professional HVAC technician will be able to expertly inspect your HVAC system and vents and recommend a solution that may work for you.


So there you have it – 7 great options to help you reduce smells coming through your vents. Hope this has been helpful and happy renting.