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Question DetailsAsked on 5/6/2017

Foul smell in the condo

I live in a high rise condo which is almost 15 years old. Recently I am starting to notice foul smell in the house, and after walking around and trying to figure out where it's coming from. I am fairly sure it's from my utilities closet. Although I am completely lost on what may be the reason for this, I can only describe that it smells almost like a dead animal or fish in there! Visually I am not seeing anything unusual there. I would appreciate suggestions on who I can contact to come check it out and remedy this. I am not sure where to even begin, what type of service or company I call, etc. Thanks!

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2 Answers


Try to track it down by nose as much as you can - looking/sniffing for odors in specific rooms, whether or not coming from central HVAC ducts (and if so, is the smell also present at the furnace area), whether it is coming from a moldy A/C evaporator coil (in the air handler or in the ducts shortly after the furnace - sometimes call "stinky sock syndrome" if not specifically mildew/moldy smelling.

Also whether stronger when breeze is blowing a specific direction, or when furnace or A/C has been running recently, etc.

Also look for damp areas, mildew/mold, etc - and sniff around baseboards to detect if maybe from wetness in a wall from leaking pipe.

Also look for leakage from water heater, pipes, boiler, etc - and also if you hace an A/C evaporator in the ducts, for possible blockage of the drain tube from the drain pan under the coil, and also if the drain goes into a sewer line whether maybe the trap (the U-shaped piece of pipe like under sinks) has gone dry (especially if A/C has not run for a long time) and is letting sewer gases escape, either around or through the A/C drain tube.

Of course, if able to, get in attic and snifff around and look for water stains, matted insulation, mildew or mold, etc up there which might indicate a roof leak.

If you cannot tie it down that way, then since it sounds like the utility closet is the likely source, I would start with a Heating and A/C contractor - perhaps have him come do a normal cleaning and check for any sources of odd smells (like overheating plastic components or circuit board for instance) in the process, and if he finds nothing then I would have him open up the exhaust ducts enough to see through them (eyeball or with mirror or inspection scope) to be sure there is no critter in the exhaust ducting. Probably $100-150 extra to do that on top of a normally $75-125 inspection and cleaning visit - but be sure to tell him in advance this may be needed so he leaves enough extra time.

If that finds nothing, then maybe a Mold Testing and Remediation (your Search the List category) company to come with fiber optic scopes and black light and similar tools to check in walls and floors for possible water situation causing fungal decay, ,which can smell like rotten meat, dead animal, fish, decayed wood, or a number of other smells depending on variety and stageof life. Typical cost about $150-250 for inspection of an area of the house for this sort of thing - remediation commonly much more of course if they find significant decay.

It may also be, among the above vendors or even if you have a couple of close friends sniff it, that one will recognize the smell based on experience and be able to guide you to the source that way.

Here are some related previous questions with answers with more thoughts on possible sources, and on how to track them down:

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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