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Locating the Source of a Foul Smell in House

It is not always easy to determine where a bad smell is coming from in your home. This guide is about locating the source of a foul smell in the house.

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August 10, 2016 Flag
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I was out of town from Friday to Sunday and my roommate said a smell started on Saturday. The smell is like b.o. and cat litter. I have sniffed every inch of the downstairs where the smell is and cannot find the source. I rearranged my living room and found nothing, and the smell gets worse each day. Any advice?

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August 10, 20160 found this helpful

You may have a dead animal around or underneath your house. A pest extermination company can dispose of any dead animals, or, recommend a solution if another problem is the cause. Dead animals can take weeks and months to decay completely, however, often a home owner who does not check for a dead animal may find that the decay liquids have seeped into the house structure (floor, walls, etc.) and may then need to replace the affected area as the smell can then take months and years to dissipate.

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July 6, 2016 Flag
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The odor we have in our kitchen seems to smell like old lettuce. We have cleaned the fridge, inside and outside and find nothing to indicate anything. We have cleaned everything else and can not find the source. I have set bowls of vinegar around the kitchen and baking soda in the fridge and they do not help. There is no standing water anywhere. Help! Every time the refrigerator is opened the smell is stronger. Thank you in advance. New refrigerator?

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July 30, 20160 found this helpful

I had a similar situation cleaned fridge to no avail.

However after frustration pulled fridge out again and found when the compressor kicked in and fan came on the odour was strong.

There is a tray under the compressor and condenser to catch condensation. older fridges this tray was removable from the front. the newer one it is impossible to remove. was definitely the source. cleaned best I could reach with stiff wire and paper towel to dry up then with disinfecting wipes. Set small cups of baking soda around the tray and now the odour is gone.

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August 1, 2016 Flag
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There is a smell outside my bedroom that began this week. I have no idea what it could be, there is no food around and there are no pets in the house. I'm thinking it might be a dead animal, but I'm at a loss on how to find it and what to do about it. I would be grateful for any suggestions.

Thank you.

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August 2, 20160 found this helpful

A pest control company can search the area around and under your house to find the source of the smell. If there is a dead body, the company can remove it. If there is no body, the company should be able to suggest a solution for the smell or recommend another service, if needed, to address the problem.

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September 5, 2015 Flag
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I am experiencing a horrible smell in my house. I first thought it was from some carpeting that had been soiled by some of my pets. The carpet was very old. I tore the carpet up and tried cleaning the wood flooring beneath with different cleaners that contained antibacterials, and some with enzymes to get rid of urine smells. The smell is even worse now. It feels like it even leaves a burning feeling on my tongue and feel like I can taste it. The smell has made me vomit. I don't even know how to describe the smell because I haven't ever smelled anything like this. It has permeated the whole house. I can't find the source of the smell. It just keeps getting worse. Can anyone help me soon? I'm so desperate.

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August 23, 20160 found this helpful

My dad is having the same problem and we can't figure out what the smell is. He just bought a home that was flipped and at first we thought maybe it was the smell of the paint and newly varnished floors but it won't go away. It smells like vomit. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes my lungs feel heavy when I'm in his house too long. It also permeates into all of my dad's clothes and makes him smell like the vomit smell. We need help. Please if you find any answers please post them and we will do the same. I have read that if the people who painted his house used old paint it could smell like vomit if it's molded, but we aren't sure if that's the case. We had a plumber come in and he said that it wasn't a plumbing type smell. We have search under his house and in the attic and they are both clean. Not sure what our next step should be.

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March 5, 2016 Flag
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I noticed about a month ago that my guestroom started to have a chemical like odor. I looked for mold or mildew and did not see any. I removed the carpet and did not see anything. My dogs are not allowed in the room so there are no pet stains. The smell has since changed to a pickle-like smell.

I painted the room and the smell went away for 2 days and has come back. We do not use gas here, so I know that too is not the culprit. My house is a 14 year old manufactured home. I have literally tried to smell every wall and the floor and cannot identify the source. The weirder thing is that when I have the fans on, the smell intensifies. Can anyone please shed some insight to my problem as my husband and I are at a loss at this point?

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Anonymous Flag
May 27, 20160 found this helpful

Sounds like he could be smoking meth we lived with a man that smoked it and that's what it smells like. You could Google it. We have the same smell problems here but I think it's a dead animal under the house.

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June 4, 2016 Flag
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I get a reoccurring fishy odor that comes and goes in the house. It is in the same area. What could it be?

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June 10, 20160 found this helpful

Please check your light fittings/switches. Bad electrical connections can cause a fishy, pungent outdoor, especially if they are old.

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September 5, 2015 Flag
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I am a first time homebuyer and bought my 1097 square foot, low-level home last July. The home was built in 1974. Since shortly after buying the home and closing, there has been a strong sewage smell that plagues the residence. It was around this same time last year (August/September). It is intermittent. However, this smells deters me from inviting anyone over and it accompanies what seems to be an infestation of gnats.

I can't sleep, sit, eat, or anything without a gnat aggressively attacking me. They help me do my hair, help me clean, help me cook, etc. It's driving me crazy. Last year I had the plumbers out because I thought it was a plumbing issue with setting water, but it's back again this year the same time or year with the gnats! I don't have a sceptic tank. I've also noticed like a week or so ago my plumbing backs up, of course my issue began long before this manifestation, but I don't think that helps the cause!

Last year I did the vinegar traps and yes they caught many gnats, but there were equal amounts still living and the smell is still present. It seemed last year like it only went away when the weather got cold. It did not happen all summer, but with the season change it seems to be back in autumn. I've spent a lot of money on this house even after paying an inspector to catch the important stuff, but at this point I need to know where I can begin or what to do cheaply to address this and not deal with it every year around the same time? Someone please help me! What could this smell be with this accompanying infestation of gnats and what can I do to remedy this?

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Anonymous Flag
March 26, 20160 found this helpful

Look for a small pool of water near your home, possibly caused by water leaking or drainage. That's where gnats breed and accumulate. Once the water is dried up they will disappear.

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April 25, 2016 Flag
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Every 3 years we get this awful smell, like Parmesan cheese that seems to come through the walls on our stairwell. It is very strong and lasts for a week or two, then completely vanishes! We live in a pole home, so the underside of the house is exposed. I am wondering if there is some plant, or mould that could be causing this strange odour?

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Anonymous Flag
May 10, 20160 found this helpful

I had same in my house turned out to be black kingsnake putting off scent.

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April 11, 2010 Flag
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I recently painted a new wall with a 5 year old latex primer followed by 2 coats of paint. A very disagreeable odor emanates from the wall. I have never had this problem with "old" paint before. Where is the odor coming from?

By George from Port St Lucie, FL

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April 14, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

If the smell is really disagreeable you may have to remove the wall entirely and sheet rock a new one. Maybe an animal like a squirrel or mouse died in between the walls. I sure wouldn't work hard to try to remove it or cover it up. I'd make a clean sweep. It doesn't sound good.

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June 24, 2015 Flag
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My home is clean, the trash is taken out, no dirty dishes, and I haven't cooked anything today. About a hour ago this foul smell filled up the entire house. I've checked all bathrooms and sinks to make sure that nothing was backed up and everything looked OK.

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