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.
Here are questions related to Locating the Source of a Foul Smell in House.
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 kitkatk100 09/25/2013
My first thought is that it has something to do with the stain on the concrete floor. Perhaps they used a wrong kind of stain and it reacted with the concrete. I'm not an expert on this, but if you have cleaned very thoroughly and repeatedly and the smell is still there, then it must be in the concrete and/or the stain. Just a guess. Good luck in finding a solution!
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.
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.
We purchased a home built in 2006 and it had been empty for over a year. There was a smoke/stale smell when we bought the house. The people who lived there prior were both smokers and had both passed away although not in the house. We washed all walls with TSP and painted all with a good paint with primer. We had new carpet and pad installed, had house cleaned professionally, replaced all ceiling fans and window coverings. New toilets installed. Just had ducts/vents cleaned and furnace and a/c blower tune up done. We have used Odorban, white vinegar, and other disinfectants. After all this a stale smell still remains although not as strong. We are considering ozone cleaning. Has anyone had this done? We have not moved into the home as of yet.
By Joan T.
For the past three years when October arrives we experience a horrible skunk like smell coming from behind our bathroom vanity. I have called a plumber who said it was definitely not a mold or sewage smell. He said it smelled like skunk weed. (None of us smoke weed so I know that isn't it.) The smell lasts about two or three months and is almost unbearable. I've tried baking soda, air freshners and we keep an air purifier running 24/7. I called a home inspector and he had never heard of anything like it. Can someone please help me figure out what this is?
By Jolie T.
By Angel G.10/17/2014
So, I must first say that in the South, the term "skunk weed" isn't always used to name a type of marijuana. There is a plant that stinks, and we call it skunk weed, but it isn't for smoking. I honestly don't know what it actually is, but maybe you should try going outside and observing your plants, anyway, just to eliminate them as potential suspects.
I have lived here for 7 months with no smell. Now there is a cloying 'scent' in my house, mostly in the entry hall and upper bathroom. It is not a foul drain smell, sometimes I think it is a urine smell, but it has a sickly sweetness to it. My niece thought it was a plant smell. It's hard to describe. Who would I get in to check it?
There is an awful smell in one of the bedrooms. This year it started to stink right after we turned off the swamp cooler for the year. (One of the swamp cooler's "dumps" is between the bedroom and the adjoining bathroom.) It smells like sewer. We keep the door shut. Last year this room had the "dead mouse" stench. I cleaned closets, moved furniture, to no avail. It stunk for several months. Now the stink is back. I've lived in this house for 35 years and didn't have this problem before last year. The house is 65 - 70 years old. Three walls in this bedroom are paneled. There is a "space" under this part of the house. I don't know what to do or whom to call. Any suggestions?
By Mary V.
We just moved into a 75 yr old house, it was recently sold to a new owner (we're leasing) so it was thoroughly inspected and has new plumbing. When we first walked it in was very noticeable but it's old and all hardwood floors. We've painted all the walls and trim.
When I'm in the house I don't really notice the smell. When I leave the house the smell has infused through every fiber of my clothes, bag, hair, etc. When I get I to my car I'm overwhelmed with the smell of the house that's coming from me. It's horrible. We recently traveled overseas, when we opened our luggage, all of our clothes stank of "old house". This cannot be normal. I've used vinegar, Odoban, and room shocker. I don't want to mask the smell. I want to get rid of it. Any ideas?
By Cheryl S
I've read that wood really retains odors, especially in wet and humid climates. Other than stripping all finishes and revarnishing everything, there is little experts recommend.
However, in my house I had the same problem until I started regularly using a steam mop. On really raining days I can still smell the inside of my walls, but I truly feel that the steam mop has permeated the icky smells of the flooring.
We have an odor only in our back hall. It smells like a cross between musty and dead animal. We have completely redone the basement, but the smell seems to be confined to the front entry. What can we do?
By Fletcher Sandbeck 08/30/2014
It could be a dead mouse or bird somewhere within your walls, attic, or crawlspace. If you can get into the attic and crawlspace check for signs of animal intrusion. If the animal died somewhere truly inaccessible the smell will usually fade over time.
I've been cleaning all morning and I've removed everything that it could possibly be. Seriously, I also have a really really good sense of smell, to a point where everyone is annoyed by me asking "what smells" all the time. To me it smells like maybe rotting cat food and garbage also there are a lot of gnats in here and I have no idea why.
Anyway I've been sniffing everything and nothing matches the smell. Any ideas? It seems to be smelling the most strong where I'm sitting on the couch, but I've smelled the entire couch and nothing is coming up. I'm usually good at locating bad smells, but nothing is working this time.
By nelliemary 09/09/2014
Have you checked the tray under your refrigerator? Also check your potato and onion bags for rotting, and check your water that comes out of the pipes. Check under and behind furniture. Could be a mouse that died in your walls Good luck!
Our house is over 150 years old, we get a smell as soon as we walk in. My concern is rotting wood or mold. I don't think it's mold because I see no signs around and I keep a very clean house. Could the sills be rotten? We don't have a basement, just a dirt crawl space.
By Sandi 07/08/2014
The insulation answer might be right on. But if it's not, you may have one or more dead animals in the crawl space. Sadly, cats and small dogs get in but can't get out. Raccoons and rats too. I would inspect, then put strong mesh in the openings so nothing gets in again. Good luck.
We recently bought a house that was built in 1987. We owned the home for over a month before moving in. We spent almost everyday here painting, and never smelled anything. A few days before we moved in we smelled an awful smell in the upstairs bathroom.
We have had the septic pumped, and still no relief. Sometimes the smell is almost completely gone and other times it will knock you down. I initially thought it was a dead mouse, but the way it comes and goes makes me rethink that. It's been almost two months with this awful smell in that bathroom.
We also cleaned all the drains with a powder type drain cleaner, thinking maybe it was the p-trap; still nothing! At this point I'm ready to call in the professionals, but don't even know who to call. Also, the tub in the bathroom, which by the way, is the only tub in the house, has jets. We don't know if that could be the source, but don't think so.
Please any advice is welcome. We just keep the door closed and don't go in there. My 4 and 5 year olds have been taking showers in the master, which is getting old. I'm ready to get rid of this smell. Please anyone. Help!
By Rebekah T from NC
Also, if you think it might be the jetted tub, it's a good idea to fill the tub above the jets and add either bleach or vinegar to the water and then turn the jets on. If you notice moldy bits coming from the jets, that may be the cause of the odor. It should clean out with a long run with hot water and bleach.
Several months ago I would notice a faint musty-rotting smell in the kitchen. I thought it was either the dishwasher or the sink. The smell has progressed and seems worst and most persistant in the basement. We have not had any leaks or water in the basement and I have looked for drips or moisture on pipes, etc. in the basement and I have started the dehumidifier.
Upstairs the smell gets better and worse, is usually in the kitchen, but I have smelled it throughout the downstairs. In addition I have had gnats all winter long. Every night I kill a few on my computer screen. I had a plant infested and moved it outside and noticed quite a few of them on the windows in the basement. I cannot trace the smell to a specific source and it is driving me crazy.
Also, to trap the gnats, put a piece of banana in a throw-away cup. Then cover the cup with plastic wrap or sandwich baggie. Hold in place with a rubberband. Using a knife, poke little holes in the top of the plastic. They'll find their way in but not their way out!
We have a one bedroom guest cabin and it has a sour smell to it no matter how long we air it out. We have repainted the entire place including ceilings.
By Susan S.
We bought a second home seven years ago, and for seven years this house has a terrible, vomit odor, with a faint under chemical-like odor. I burn scented candles all the time, keep windows open, and have cleaned everything in the house I'm able to, even having the vents professionally cleaned, but the smell never goes away.
We intended this home to be a vacation spot, where we could entertain. The kids don't even want to go up there, or bring there friends, and I don't blame them. Short of selling it, any ideas? Are there companies that will investigate to find the source of the odor?
By Susan H.
Having just moved from a huge lake area after livivg there for 19 years, we have heard and seen almost everything. You didn't mention having a crawl space or basement so I will throw some ideas out there: previous owners - meth labs; someone died by accident (or not) and blood seeped through flooring to crawl space? - septic tank is 50 gallon drum- vacation home built with used items like furnace from meth home - black mold from high humidity. Try hiring a home inspector like you do before buying a new home. One with excellent references. I have seen houses built on trash dumps and mansions next to hillbillies. See if ever treated for termites or ants?
I have an 8 year old home, concrete slab on grade (no basement) and for the last 3.5 years have been dealing with a horrible pesticide smell. It first started in the middle of the master bedroom closet. I cleaned the carpets, but it didn't help, then finally I pulled them up and cleaned the floor and installed new carpet. 3 months later, the new carpet had "soaked up the smell" and it too had to be ripped out. I had to seal the floor with DryLock and buy more new carpet and padding. The smell "moved" to one side of my master bedroom. Same deal. I had to rip off the flooring and Drylock the concrete and buy new pads and carpet.
Now the smell has "moved" to the bathroom under the tile. It is definitely from the slab floor. If you lay a clean towel down, wait an hour, pick it up - you would be almost knocked over by a chemical smell. There were no noticeable cracks in the floors or stains when I removed carpeting. I only get the outside of the home sprayed once every 3 months - "not" inside. It's only on one side of home. I have had a ton of people come in to try to figure it out. Any ideas? The builder says its probably from the bug guy, the bug guy says their chemical doesn't smell like that and the plumber doesn't see any problems. Was I built on top of an abandoned tank or something? What else smells like Raid? I purchased a radon gas detector - but nothing. Do I get the soil under house tested? I'm so frustrated I'm about to just move out!
I experience a strong foul smell as I enter the house through the main door. I have examined the surrounding passage area, but can not see the source. Can it be something in the ceiling?
By Biren S
By pearson777 04/16/2014
This happened to me. Couldn't figure it out in the beginning but as the foul odor became stronger, I was able to "follow my nose" and discovered a rotten potato had evidently rolled under the refrigerator at some point.
There is an odor in the kitchen that smell like something stuck under vacuum belt is burning. The odor is not constant, but seems to come out about every 40 minutes to and hour and a half. This is constant every day and is getting worse and leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes my eyes burn. I have turned breakers off for each appliance one at a time to see if it was one of them, but the odor is still there.
I had an electrician come over and test and check all outlets. All was good. He could not smell anything, but both my daughters and my son can smell the odor. What could this be or who could i contact to help and advise me?
I've had a terrible smell in my master bathroom and closet for almost 3 months, and at first I thought it smelled like sewage. The smell kept getting worse, primarily in the closet so I steam cleaned the carpet (only place in that area that is carpeted), but it made no change. It was horrible over the weekend - would make you gag, but almost went away on Monday.
The smell came back by Wednesday so I had plumbers out to run a smoke test. They re-set the toilet, even though there was no smell in the water closet. It made no change. Since then we have flushed the AC unit, had the roof checked and checked the attic. There is no smell in there. The smell changed from a sewage smell to a pungent musky smell and primarily stayed in the closet and bathroom but you could also smell it in an adjacent hallway and even in the garage.
My parents came over and was certain in smelled like a dead mouse in the wall. I called exterminators and they agreed it was a dead smell, and assured me that it would fade over two weeks.
We did a full exclusion service last year. We did find an area where an AC hose enters the brick that was chewed up. We fixed it and sealed the gap. That was 2 months ago and since the smell gets better and worse. The odd thing is that in the last couple of weeks the musky smell has returned to a sewage/trash type smell and has intensified. Also, although it pretty much stays in the closet/bathroom area it still "moves". Last week it was in the garage, and today it's even by the toilet (water closet).
It's driving me insane to have to deal with this stinch! Odor eliminators don't even touch the smell. We're clean people and it disgusts me to think of something rotting behind my walls. But then, dead things don't move. Suggestions on where to go from here?
By Stacie D
I am ALSO having this same issue! Has been going on for about 3 weeks now. Here, it smells like really STRONG Parmesan cheese. In the beginning I was certain it was a mess from cats in the house. Like the previous poster, the odor moves from room to room. It has mostly been in the kitchen and sometimes it can be smelled in the adjacent living room. Tonight I can smell it strongly from my "office" just off of the master bedroom. It's enough to make me gag. Who does a person call?? I will be following this thread and hope yours is better by now. Oh yeah. My second thought was the septic tank was overflowing; had it pumped, not the issue. :(
I have lived here almost 4 years. Starting yesterday morning there is a strong smell of rotten decay in front of the dish cupboard in my kitchen. It's built into an interior wall, with an open coat closet on the other side of the wall. No smell there or inside of the cupboard, just right in front of it. The basement below is open. You can look right up at the floorboards of the kitchen. No smell there.
At first I thought it was the garbage can sitting near. I took the garbage out which didn't smell and scrubbed out the can and sprayed, which didn't smell. My husband said he didn't smell it. I asked our 4 year old grandson if he smelled something stinky; he said no.
This morning the smell is worse. It's just in that one place. I don't think it's anything with me. If it were wouldn't I smell things in other places that I am at during the day? There doesn't seem to be any correlation between the smell and heater running. Yes we get dampness from spring thaws, but have a dehumidifier running in basement; it has been for the entire time we have lived here. Nothing has changed other than we have this smell now, that only I seem to be able to smell. Oh, and the smell does seem to come and go and vary in intensity. Any ideas?
By Judy K
By carla 03/24/2014
Dear Judy, It may be a dead mouse. They can fit in areas smaller than a Quarter. If it is a mouse, it will dry up and the smell will go away. Try spraying Odoban or Nature's Miracle, Baking Soda around the area where you can, coffee grounds, or charcoal.
Hope this helps. Sorry for your problem.
My 78 year old mother has a problem with a smell in her home making her sick and headaches. No one can smell it but her. She smells it most in the bedroom and the living room. She has been taping the vents closed in those rooms as she smells it the most when the furnace comes on. We have had the ducts cleaned and the furnace filter changed and it is no better. Any suggestions?
By Mary Ellen
By carla 03/24/2014
Hi Mary Ellen, If your mother has a "bird dog nose" (mine did) she may be smelling something you can't smell. The one thing I'd worry about is if you have natural gas, that can cause headaches from carbon monoxide poisoning. Could it be a new item in the house (drywall from China), bedding, diet changes (at night she off gasses it through breathing). The furnace may warm the smell and make it more apparent.
The other option is to have your mom checked by a doctor. There are medical issues that can cause your brain and nose to smell things that aren't there or are there. Epilepsy, tumors, etc. I don't want to scare you, but it's what I would do if it was my mom. Hope you find a solution. I'd Google it and see what you can find.
Blessings on you and your mom.
For 2-3 days we are smelling a bad odour only in my room. We suspect it is probably a mouse or rat (I hate the most). Firstly we thought it could be in the split AC fan and did a complete service of the whole AC. They found nothing in it and fixed it back. The smell still exists :(
The whole room has been twice checked by moving the furniture and nothing at all found, no trace! I can't even pin point a particular place :(
A kind suggestion would be really appreciated.
I have this horrible smell in my bedroom of all places and I don't know what is causing it. We have had 2 things happen in the last week - first the basement got wet and I had to tear up all my carpeting and it is out of house and second we got a cat from someone who was moving. A week after both is these, I have a sour/dead rat smell in my room.
The cat has been fixed, but he has been in my room. And I'm embarrassed to say, I think it could be my bed or the furnace when it comes on makes it worse, but I don't notice it in the other rooms - only when I'm going to bed. The cat is skiddish of our dog, but I haven't seen anything evident of a spray, etc. I'm dumbfounded and feel like I need to get rid of this cat, but what do I do about the odor and what if it's not the cat?
We have an unpleasant bitter acidic smell in the house. The smell is coming from heat registers. We had the furnace and air conditioning coil checked we had one of the walls in the basement rebuilt. There are no visible leaks and no source of the strong odor. We would appreciate any suggestions about the source of the odor. My wife started smelling it last August at the end of air conditioning season.
Whenever my downstairs heater comes on after is been off for awhile, the bad odor smell will be coming through vents and when the heater stops, the odor goes away. It only happens in winters.
We just bought/moved into a house built in 2008/2009 and there is a horrible odor in several of the closets. At first, I thought it was just the closets with the air vents, but now it is moving to more closets that do not have vents. The main areas of the house and the bedrooms do not smell, just the closets. It almost smells toxic, as my nose burns after. Any ideas what in the world this is?
By Shawn Patrick P.04/11/2014
I'm wondering if maybe it could be the paint that was used in the closets. Some times the closets are all painted white with a semi-gloss paint. I'm not sure if this is your case but thought that this could be your problem!
Ever year in the fall for about a week I have a foul odor in my house. What would it be? It lasts for about a week. It's very annoying. Please anyone have a answer?
By Beverley G
I'm thinking animals come to nest and some are born dead.
For a few days now, as soon as I walk in the front door it smells like poop really badly. It's mainly from the front door into the kitchen. When the house is cool, it doesn't smell as bad. Any suggestions on what it could be?
By Brenda Hopkins G.11/09/2013
We also had this problem but the odor was the strongest in our master bath. We had everything checked: Toilet was looked at by plummer, he recommended having septic tank pumped out(we are in the country), did that but smell still remained. Well when all was said and done, it was a propane leak where the pipe came through the foundation of our house. Took us over a year to figure this out.
We bought a trailer house about 2 years ago and did a complete renovation on it. We tore out all subfloors, paneling, insulation, the works, and replaced it with new subfloor, insulation and drywall instead of paneling.
My question is, this summer a musty odor has started coming up and I'm not sure where it's coming from. It's strongest under the bathroom sink and kitchen sink. I tore out the kick plate under the kitchen sink and cannot seem to notice any leaks. I'm not sure if it could be coming up from under the house, as we took out all our skirting and replaced it with foam sheets glued to weather resistant 2x4s and covered with a stucco material. This has caused condensation in the past so we added a fan in the skirting to pull out some of the moisture under the house.
As a side note about a month ago we had an issue with gnats and could not find the source. I think it might have been from the dishwasher because we rarely use it. I cleaned out under the fridge and inside the dishwasher and the gnats went away. My question is, what can I do to diagnose it or who can I call that won't cost me a fortune?
If it coming only from under sinks and smells like dirt and you have seen gnats, there is stuff in your sink pipe trap that is decaying, molding, etc. (the u shaped part). You can fix it by pouring some bleach in the drains. But you need to make sure it is enough to fill up the u shaped part and you have to leave it there for a few hours at least. The idea is you want only bleach sitting in that trap for a while. The bleach will kill whatever is growing there, including the gnats that are living there, and the smell will go away.
For the past 4 months I have noticed a rancid dead smell in my house usually when the temperatures are above 90 degrees, the air conditioner is on, and smell is concentrated in the front of the house. I have been hit by this pungent odor all summer. I thought a dead animal in the wall, ducting, or even under house? After 4 months wouldn't it be dried and decayed by now? My landlord so far has been very conservative, waiting for it to disappear. Could it be the sewer, a nest? I have a lot of squirrels in neighborhood and I've seen rats running along the power lines in my back yard. Please advise.
By Dana B.
By coville123 08/22/2013
Sounds like it could be the sewer, but try dumping baking soda and vinegar in your drains in case its that.
I have an odor in my house, there are no dead animals. It is just a funky smell. It's not on the walls or the furniture. I've cleaned top to bottom every day and my house still has this funky smell what could it be?
By Stacy from San Antonio, TX
By Luana M. 09/21/2012
If you have carpet I would use baking soda letting it set as long as possible. Check for mold under carpets,under sinks etc. What this reminds me of is sewage. Sorry but happened to me.
I kept smelling this horrible smell when I came in, walked by but it wasn't as noticeable to my landlord. I really was going crazy over it doing what you have been doing. I goggled it and yes it recommend changing toilet ring. Which most of the time does the trick. In my case however under the building was a broken pipe. If you have done every thing else this may be your answer.
Good luck. When I read this brought back "funky" memories.
We have a odor in our basement which we only noticed about one month ago. The smell is very bitter and to begin with I thought it was the herb, dill, but as there is nothing like that downstairs. It wasn't that and it seems to be getting stronger as time goes by. It is now starting to come up thru the heat pipes.
As we are able to keep the windows open now it isn't a real problem, but it will be when it we have to close them. Is there anything like a meter that will read when we are close to the problem? We have been thru everything and washed what we thought might pose a problem with no success. Any help would be appreciated.
By Sharon L.
By Sandi 07/28/2011
If you have gas, it will smell like rotten eggs. They put a chemical in it called mercapaden (sp?). It's for that purpose alone. It truely smells like sulpher.
You may have some kind of sealent, or acidic substance that has soaked through and old can and into the wood or piping system. You may also have a dead animal. You may want to call a plumber and see that your sewage pipes have not been cracked by tree limbs, or your local HVAC company. Good luck!
We have a very foul dead animal odor in our home. The only time this odor is present is after my wife has used a hair dryer. We know it is not the dryer itself, because it does not smell if used outside our home, ie. vacation.
The smell seems to appear after using the dryer for a while and it does not smell in the bathroom where it is being used. It seems to be drawn in from another room. Once the dryer is off the smell slowly dissipates and is gone.
I can not find anything in the ventilation, attic, or crawl space. This has been happening for nearly five years. I think that if it were a small dead animal that it would have dried up and quit smelling by now. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
By Charles from Indianapolis, IN
Hi guys! I wonder if you can help me too. I sort of have a similar problem and its almost a week now. There is a terrible smell of a dead animal in my kitchen; I have tried to locate exactly where the smell comes from in the kitchen but have not been able to pin point the source. I have tried smelling the sink but the sink doesn't smell so I honestly don't know what to do now. The last post mentioned something about having chemicals under the sink. I do have a whole stack of cleaning detergents under my sink in the cabinet; I have removed all of them and will see if there is any change tomorrow.
Could it be the drain? How am I suppose to know if it's coming from the drain and yet the when I smelled the sink i didn't smell the rotten meat odour. Please advise. Thanks!
Do you have knowledge about this guide topic? Feel free to share a solution!