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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

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

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