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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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December 30, 2015 Flag

I had this issue just after moving into a new rental. It seemed to match most of the 'rotten egg and sulfur' smells that are repeated on this thread. I figured out my issue, and may match many of yours as well.

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The master bedroom is where they usually install the bulk of the alarm systems, sometimes in a master closet (most of the time it seems). The alarm's backup battery (the little 4 inch square box - black, grey or tan) that it uses can go bad after being constantly charged over many years and it can rupture slightly, emitting a small amount of (you guessed it) sulfuric acid, which really stinks! I made the mistake of sniffing it a bit too close, and that stuff literally takes your breath away. It was bad.

I took it to the backyard where I will dispose of it properly later. It's a hazardous substance, but I seriously doubt it would cause a health concern if it just produces an annoying stench in your closet.

It worked! The stench is gone, gone, gone!

Source: Ol factory experience and old fashioned deductive reasoning.

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August 10, 2016

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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November 24, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

Using kitty litter will absorb any foul odor especially if it is in the walls. Just make a hole pour it in..... Works great with dead animals or rodents,too

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February 25, 2017

Beginning in January, in the middle of the night, we'd get an awful, acrid, skunk-like smell throughout the house. I'd step outside to make sure that wasn't where it was originating. As soon as I'd come back in, the odor was awful. We have to light candles, turn on the exhaust fan over the stove, and crack open a door. This would happen every 2 or 3 weeks. Now, we've had 2 consecutive nights of the occurrence. I don't think it can actually be a skunk since the odor disappears in about 3 hours. I have also noticed a few stink bugs (5), but have never smelled that odor when I get rid of them. Any ideas?

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February 26, 20170 found this helpful

DEFINITELY check the gas situation as it could be lethal.

It could also be that animals living in the walls of your home urinate, which can cause that smell, but what's puzzling is the periodic nature of the smell.

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October 18, 2016 Flag

I came home one day after my AC went out and my house smelled odd. It is getting cooler so we have just been running fans in the house until we can get the AC fixed. But one day I came home and there was a smell in the house that smelled like someone had burned food and tried to add spices to make it better. The smell wouldn't be unbearable if it wasn't so strong. It is stronger in a few areas of the house than others, but I can't find where it is coming from. Any ideas?

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November 2, 20160 found this helpful

There is a foul odor in my house.Who do I call?

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September 5, 2015

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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September 6, 20160 found this helpful

I have a horrible smell in my house. I first thought it was from some carpeting that had been soiled by some of my pets. I tore the carpet up and cleaned the wood flooring benea

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July 6, 2016

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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November 1, 20160 found this helpful

I moved into a new appartment it did not have any oder or smells of any sort now it smells bad don't no what the smell is been in my neighborhoods. Appartment and they don't smell I want this Snell gone baking soda did not work house spray is just temporary help desperate

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November 27, 2016 Flag

I have this smell in my unit; I am 3 stories up. It smells like Parmesan cheese or off powdered milk. I get wiffs of it around near the kitchen. But when I go looking for the smell I just can't detect where it is coming from.

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December 22, 20160 found this helpful

almost sounds like a fungus or mold....... I would empty and check all cabinets, pull out the fridge/freezer and check the drain pans underneath and behind them. They could have nasty water sitting in them. Check your potato bin, onion bin and everywhere you keep food. Look in your windows--is there any where rain water could have gotten in and be standing and growing mold? Any potted plants that have dirt or standing water in the saucer under them? Do you have a humidifier or dehumidifier or heater or ac that takes water or has a drain pan water? Have you checked the walls that contain water pipes to make sure no leaking pipes in the walls? Under the kitchen sink?

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September 5, 2015

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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September 21, 2016

My daughter just bought an old house and the smell is unreal. It hits you when you walk in the door. I was worried it was cats, but the lady who lived in the house did not have any cats. Could you help me get rid of the smell?
Thank You

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September 21, 20161 found this helpful

Your daughter may have purchased a very expensive problem, along with the house. There are many reasons for house odors and animals and sewage are only two. Other possible problems could be kept animals other than cats, dead animal decay liquids that seeped into the wood (a common and expensive problem), sewage and septic tank leaks, plumbing leaks, etc.

Unfortunately, the only way to identify the cause or cases is to have professional companies evaluate the problem and suggest possible solutions. Just finding the source of the problem can be very expensive. Pest management, plumbing, construction repair and other types of house related companies can help.

Good Luck!

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September 19, 2016 Flag

I live in Florida and have had a bad rotten garbage type smell in my garage for years. I have cleaned out everything, I do not see any evidence of anything it could be. It only smells in the garage. It does not smell in mudroom laundry area which is inside the garage door to house. Nor does it smell outside of my garage. I only notice the smell when I go into the garage when the garage door is shut, or when I first open the garage door and I am outside.
The only thing left to check is the walls. Any idea what it could be or who to call to check it?

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September 19, 20161 found this helpful

As you have had the bad smell for years in one area, you may have a sewer leak or other sewer problem, or a dead animal in or underneath the garage. The problem with organic odors is that they seep into wood structures and then the wood can smell bad for years. Unfortunately, bad smells are difficult to resolve and often very expensive. A pest company may be able to clarify if a dead animal or animals are the source of the smell. A plumbing company can check for any sewage leaks, etc. Good Luck!

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September 6, 2016 Flag

I have a horrible smell in my house. I first thought it was from some carpeting that had been soiled by some of my pets. I tore the carpet up and cleaned the wood flooring, but it is still here.

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September 7, 20161 found this helpful

You might have a dead animal in your basement, attic, walls, etc. A pest control company can remove the body, however, that may not be the end of the odor. Decaying bodies leave liquid that seeps into a wood structure. Sometimes removing the body will eliminate the smell, however, if enough decay liquid has seeped into the wood, you may need to remove and repair the area.

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June 24, 2015 Flag

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. I can't even describe what it smells like. I have no inside animals. This has been happened for about a week. It was so bad on Sunday that the smell woke me up and I sleep with a full face mask hooked up to a CPAP machine, but I could still smell it. I've done smell checks on all the kids. It is horrible. I have Crohn's so I smell things to the extreme, it's like I have the nose of a pregnant woman. I'll take any suggestions. I have hardwood floors, central air and heat, and all my air and water filters have just been changed.

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Anonymous Flag
April 13, 20160 found this helpful

Try to smell your TV router

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July 22, 2016 Flag

My whole house smells like cat urine. I can't find the original location as somedays I can smell it all through the house and somedays I can only smell it in certain areas and then other days it doesn't smell at all. I've never caught the cat in action which makes it even harder to find. It's driving me crazy

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February 28, 20170 found this helpful

First you have to find the source of the smell and the only real way to do that effectively is to shut out the lights and turn on a black light. The Black light will identify every single spot where urine is. After all, if you can't find it, you can't clean it. https://www.ama  +urine+detection

Enzymatic cleaners are really the only thing that will get rid of that smell.

You can buy one here https://www.che  amp;gclsrc=aw.ds

or, if you have brown sugar, citrus peels and a lot of time on your hands, you can make your own: http://www.wiki  e-Enzyme-Cleaner

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July 12, 2016 Flag

We have been experiencing a strange fishy smell in the same area which is sometimes evident and sometimes not for a few months now. Sometimes it is subtle and other times truly strong! It is in an enclosed area just inside our front door. I saw a similar Q and A to this on here which connects this possibly to being an electrical fault. But would this still be occurring when the only ceiling light and wall socket in there are off and not being used?
Concerned.

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February 28, 20170 found this helpful

This sounds really serious. I received confirmation regarding the fishy smell and electrical fires from this site: " I know it sounds strange, but I've learned that most electronic shielding and plastic components are made with a certain kind of chemical that makes it high heat resistant. This chemical in the plastic releases a strange "fish" or "urine" smell when it's cooking. I spent hours researching this and found that almost every single person that mentioned the "fish smell" all came to the conclusion that there was a cooking electrical outlet, wire or circuit somewhere in the house." https://www.bob  e=2#.WLZZPTsrJPY

The flaw could be inside your wall, or attached to the bulb. I am uploading an awful pic of a house fire we had to be a part of when the lightbulb caught fire.

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January 9, 2013 Flag

I have this odor that comes and goes. I think that it is associated with the furnace, however I have just had the furnace annual maintenance done. I had the air ducts cleaned and did the monthly cleaning of the filters and it is still here.

I find as I get older it affects my chronic bronchitis making it worse than usual and causes my eyes to burn. When it shows up it seems to be strongest when the furnace is blowing heat.

I know it is not the refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, washer, or dryer as those are new and the dryer duct was cleaned with the rest of the vents. I always figured it was associated with the cleaning of the furnace filters, but this time it showed up four days after I had cleaned the filters.

My husband does not seem to notice it and my son has no sense of smell so I feel like I might be crazy. Anyone know who I can call to get this looked into? My furnace people are clueless and have been no help at all.

By wjw

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September 24, 20130 found this helpful

Hello, I had a similar problem. It was esp bad when the oil furnace came on. We finally tracked it down to a leak under the toilet that was dripping loaded water into the ventilation system. Yuck.

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April 20, 2015 Flag

We have had several dead animals under the slab foundation after a torrential rain. We had several holes around the house where we have seen rabbits and possums. How long before smell goes away?

By Nova

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April 21, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

It takes about 3 weeks for the smell of dead rat in the walls to go away. Your situation sounds a bit different. The moisture might make it a longer process.

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June 4, 2016 Flag

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 5, 20160 found this helpful

Could be an animal hide out or a decaying animal body. Check the area and, if needed, a pest removal company can check, clean out and remove any animal bodies. It is important to remove bodies immediately as the decay process releases liquids into the wood structure. If the wood is saturated with decay liquids, then the area may need to be replaced as the decay stench can last for years.

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September 21, 2013 Flag

I have an open floor plan with stained, scored concrete floors in the living room and carpet in the bedrooms. I have been in two different houses that are built the same just different floor plans. I noticed when we moved out of one house that it smelled awful. The smell was only in the living area. I have three dogs and thought it was because of them. I cleaned the house from top to bottom, opened all doors and windows for several days and placed baking soda boxes in several different places. The smell would never go away.

Now I am smelling the same smell in the new house. I clean, clean, clean all the time and my dogs are bathed regularly. It's not my furniture and I got rid of the area rugs. I don't even know how to explain the smell. It smells like dirt to me. This is a rental house built in 2005 and my landlord was very upset with me in the last house. I feel like I clean more than the average person, but yet my house always stinks! Is there a professional service I can call for help?

By TB

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September 23, 20130 found this helpful

Could it be your cleaning products? or needing a dehumidifier?

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April 25, 2016

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.

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