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Question DetailsAsked on 7/24/2014

We have a strong (chemical or paint like odor) in the basement bathroom, no windows. Please help!

If we keep the door closed, the smell inside becomes so strong that it could easily give a headache. I am very concerned as my kids room is close by. Should I call the fire dept? Get indoor air quality tested? How much does that cost? I am trying to track the odor and I would guess maybe the vent (it seems to get even worse when I keep the fan on. I need to get to the bottom of this and quick. Thank you in advance for any answers!

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2 Answers


I am assuming you have not just put in new carpeting or flooring or such that could be a source for the odor.

Check for spilled cleaning materials in the bathroom under the sink, also in basement or wherever the source of the air for the fan is (assuming you meant central air). If you live in a multiple unit building, do you have a neighbor painting that is causing smell to come through the vents ?

If you meant when bathroom vent fan is on, get a stepstool and smell up close when it is running - maybe it is plugged with lint and stalling or overheating, causing burning plastic smell ? Besure fan bladeis actually turning - could be jammed with lint and the motor shaft is spining in the platic fan and melting it, or the motor is stalled and overheating.

Do you have shower that has not been used recently, or a floor drain - if so, flush a gallon or so of water down each drain in that room - possible the water in the trap has evaporated so you are getting chemical fumes from the sewer that someone dumped down there and are coming up through your sewer pipe to the open drain. Or is there any possibility a kid dumped paints or solvents or such from craft or hobby project down the drain ?

Also check around bathroom area - inside and out - for any spilled chemicals or paints. Also check kid's room for chemicals or solvents - especially if he/she is into crafts or building models - maybe spilled paint, solvent or glue somewhere.

Last possibility - hope not - is kid is huffing chemicals or solvents in the bathroom, depending on age of course.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


Hi thank you for your response. It's a single family home, we have recently moved into a new home (built in 1939). The kids have not dumped anything, they are small (2 and 4) and have no acces to any cleaning products. I do not keep any chemicals in that bathroom, and in general I use fairly eco friendly cleaning products.

The only thing that seems to help temporarily is leaving the door open so it can air out (and into other living basement space). Our kids room is next door to that bathroom. In the past two weeks the Carbon Monoxide alarm located in the kids room went off into "Testing mode" twice. I called the fire Dept. and they suggested we change the batteries. The only other thing that could be that the previous owner changed the flooring, painted etc. before the sale and the area is poorly ventilated so it lingers in, but I feel that it is more than that.

Answered 5 years ago by Guest_9783363

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