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Locating the Source of a Foul Smell in House

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A woman holding her nose.

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.

Questions

Here are questions related to Locating the Source of a Foul Smell in House.

Question: Finding Source of Bad Odor 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 TB


Most Recent Answer

By Kathy Kilian09/25/2013

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!

Question: Locating Cause of Bad Odor In My Home

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


Most Recent Answer

By scalzocathy12309/24/2013

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.

Question: Sour Smell in Guest Cabin

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.

Question: Removing Foul Vomit Like Odor in House

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.


Most Recent Answer

By peggyruble1404/16/2014

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?

Question: Pesticide Smell in Home

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!

By CeCe

Question: Foul Smell in the House

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


Most Recent Answer

By pearson777 [1]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.

Question: Odor in Kitchen

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?

By Teresa

Question: Foul Smell in the House

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

Question: Rotten Dead Smell in My House

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


Most Recent Answer

By carla03/24/2014

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.

Question: Bad Smell in House

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


Most Recent Answer

By carla03/24/2014

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.

Question: Locating and Getting Rid of Bad Odor in House

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.

Thanks!

By Manakeesh

Question: Identifying Cause of Bad Odor in House

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?

By Beth

Question: Bitter Acidic Odor Coming from Heat Registers

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.

By E.I.

Question: Sewer Odor Smell Coming From Heater

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.

By Hafeez

Question: Horrible Smell in Closets

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 DMA


Most Recent Answer

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!

Question: Locating Odor in My House

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

Question: Cause of Poop Smell in My House

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 M&M


Most Recent Answer

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.

Question: Mildew Smell in Mobile Home

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?

By Mary


Most Recent Answer

By Norm33311/03/2013

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.

Question: Locating the Source of a Foul Smell in House

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.


Most Recent Answer

By coville12308/22/2013

Sounds like it could be the sewer, but try dumping baking soda and vinegar in your drains in case its that.

Question: Getting Rid of an Odor in My House

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


Most Recent Answer

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.

Question: Locating the Source of a Strong Bitter Odor in Basement

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.


Best Answer

By Sandi07/28/2011

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!

Question: Can't Locate the Source of a Terrible Smell in My Home

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


Most Recent Answer

By Beaufort12107/12/2011

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!

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