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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


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By Sherryanney 7 02/25/2010 Flag

Most likely the smell you are smelling is rust, and the dryer is blowing the odor around that usually just close to the place the rust is. Behind or in your toilet, your pipes under your sink has tiny hole, the over flow in your bathroom sink, the overflown of your shower or tub. Do you need a new wax ring on your toilet?

Another thing that stinks like that is toilet bowl cleaner, lime away. Do you have these chemicals under your sink near moisture? These to will don't spread there smell unless the air moves around them.

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By Noella 11 381 02/26/2010 Flag

If you only notice this smell when she runs the hair dryer and it has been going on for five years, it is possible that there is hair in the dryer. I had an old hair dryer that I used for almost 25 years and I noticed a burning hair smell when I would use the dryer - not a nice smell. I think when the dryer is used, loose hairs are blown around and sucked back into the inlet in the dryer. Just a thought.

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By Angie 10 16 02/26/2010 Flag

I had this same problem a few years ago and it was driving me crazy. I live in a rural area and a mouse had gotten in the house and took a bite of the electric ignitation wire behind my gas stove and fried him self and that was where the odor was coming from.

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By Beaufort121 1 07/12/2011 Flag

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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Here are questions related to Can't Locate the Source of a Terrible Smell in My Home.

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

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Most Recent Answer

By Luana M. 82 149 09/21/2012 Flag

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.

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Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the comments that were provided then.

Archive: Can't Locate the Source of a Terrible Smell In My Home

I have a terrible smell in my house and I can't find it! A few days ago we noticed a smell (like a dead animal or sour milk) in our den but could not pinpoint a 'spot'. You just get a trace of it as you move around. It now seems to have moved to more areas downstairs and also upstairs.

It's not the disposal, dishwasher, trash or a rotten potato. It's not coming from the toilets or sinks. It's not the air conditioning vents. We can't find anything under the den furniture or cushions. My kids complain that I'm too clean but even they are complaining about the stench!

We don't have indoor pets and it's not a cat spray type of smell. It seems to be everywhere at different times but we can't find THE SPOT. We have central air, gas heat and hot water, a neighborhood well and sewer. We are the only owners of this home and have been here for 17 years. We have a crawl space but I couldn't get the door open. I plan to have my husband go under there and also check the fireplace when he gets back in town (our chimney cap blew off last week).

Any suggestions? Thanks!


Dead Animal

Sounds to me as if an animal has crawled in and and died somewhere in your home. We had a similar problem years ago with a possum. If all else fails and you cannot find the source, you might want to call a pest control company and see if they can locate where it's coming from. Good luck ! (08/16/2005)

By Maggie

Check Your Crawl Space

I used rat poison a few times and once it worked too well, The foulest imaginable smell was finally traced to a critter that had chosen the top of my water heater as its RIP place. Definitely check your crawl space -- I had rats in mine. Solved the problem by selling the house. And see if there is an opening into your walls that you didn't know about before. The smell will go away eventually but in the meantime it can be disgusting. (08/16/2005)

By Doug


Chances are it IS a dead animal from what you describe, but check your refrigerator's drain pan. It can create one of the worst possible odors you COULDN'T imagine! (08/16/2005)


Hot Water Tank

There is a rod in the hot water tank that attracts minerals, etc. Check to see if it can be replaced. (08/16/2005)

By kelleno

Sour Milk in the Defrosting Pan

A friend of mine had the same problem years ago. She had spilled milk in the refrigerator and it had drained into the self defrosting pan (which evaporates over time) but the milk soured and smelled in different places in the house . It took us awhile to figure out where the smell was coming from. Check the defrost pan under the refrigerator. Hope this helps. (08/16/2005)

By seamstress

Mouse Between the Walls

It could be a dead mouse in between the walls. It happens here sometimes in the winter, and the furnace air just blows the horrible smell all through the house! Sorry, but I don't have a remedy for it though! (08/16/2005)

By Jan

Sewer Odor

We rented a house only to find a rotten rutabaga type odor. I called the health people. They tracked it down to an uncovered sewer drain in the basement. The postal worker was amazed when we no longer smelled it. He said it had been like that for years. The downside was that the house sold once the odor was gone. (08/16/2005)

By siris.

Check Your Fire Place

Check your Fire Place for dead squirrels, birds, etc. (08/17/2005)

By Dick

Something in the Vents

Something could have fallen down into the heat registers if they are located in the floor. This happened to relatives of mine. (08/17/2005)

By Holly

It's a Dead Squirrel

Thanks for all the info! It's a dead squirrel in the fireplace. My husband is working on it as I type. I have such a headache from the smell these last 3 days that I bowed out of the 'rescue'. It's on a ledge and it is taking quite a while. Anyway, what we did learn is this... Our chimney cap blew off last week and we put off climbing up on the high roof to put it back on. I guess the squirrel was used to jumping from the tree and landing on top of the chimney to run across the roof. When the chimney cap fell off, the squirrel went right down the chimney. So replace the cap immediately! Thanks for all the suggestions. I did clean out the frig pan - it needed it! (08/17/2005)

By Ann

RE: Can't Locate the Source of a Terrible Smell In My Home

Hi Ann,

Sure glad you found it! It's a horrible smell, I know from experience. Have him put some baking soda or borax where the little guy was to help deodorize the chimney. It's probably too hot to start a fire but that would help, too and draw the smell up the chimney. (08/17/2005)

By Susan from ThriftyFun


We always had the exact same problem with squirrels getting in threw the chimney cap or the vents in our cottage (what a nice way to start a vacation, esp. since Dad sent us kids up to the attic to find the "culprit"!) My dad finally covered all the caps and vents with metal screening, the heavy duty kind, that way even if the caps came off the little buggers couldn't get it!

Rebekah (08/18/2005)

By Madelynnsmama

Check under your house.

Check under your house. We were recently replacing some water pipes and found where a opossum had gotten stuck and died. It took months before we found this odor. (08/20/2005)

By Pam

Archive: Can't Locate the Source of a Terrible Smell In My Home

Is there a company who can use a dog or some device to find the source of the odor?

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