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Question DetailsAsked on 1/8/2017

House smells like rotten flesh every winter, once the rain and cold sets in?

In the dead of winter we suddenly have a whole house smell of decay. Under the home shows nothing dead, and the HVAC doesn't seem to be producing the smell.

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2 Answers


Below are some prior responses to that question - most common reasons are animals living under the house (though not normally decay in that case unless they are bringing in food and it is going bad), "stinky sock" syndrome in forced air heating (which you say does not seam to be the case for you), leaking sewer pipes (though that is usually sewage or sulphur smell), or fungus growing on framing due to water leaks - which sometimes can smell like a dead animal decomposing, because basically the same process.

One other possibility, since you say in the dead of winter and occurs suddenly - could be an area of fungus in piping which only gets wet and stsarts growing again because you have one or more pipes freezing up and leaking slightly under the freezing pressure.

Or if in a mucky/swampy area could be the freezing ground is pushing organic-rich water in under your house, or snow cover is blocking normal dissipation of gases so you are gerstting swamp gases not coming up through the joints in concrete slabs - this is common in Canada and Alaska and parts of some far northern-tier states where the house is built on muskeg or organic-rich ground or permafrost. Could check this out by isolating slab areas with a small area of taped-down plastic cloth over slab expansion/perimeter joints to trap some gas (careful - might be explosive with methane) for a couple of days, then air the house out real well, then open up the plastic and immediately smell the air in underneath to see if smell is concentrated there. Might have to test several spots - starting with any where the slab (or basement foundation) is dampish looking.

You might have to isolate rooms one by one with doors and windows closed and bottom gap on door taped, and HVAC vents (if central heat/air) taped over to see if it concentrates in any one room more than the others. Note anytime you do this, especially in basement, you risk concentration of any explosive (methane, hydrogen compounds) gases coming from the ground, so initially just do for a short time to see if that concentrates the smell, then longer if not - and don't leave on or turn on anything electric in that room during the test or until aired out.

Also - if blocking off HVAC vents for the test, remember that room will not be getting heat, so be cautious about doing in cold weather to avoid frozen pipes or condensation/ frost damage to items in the room.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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