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Question DetailsAsked on 2/11/2018

Why does just one room have a strong odor?

Our bedroom has a strong, offensive odor that overpowers any deodorizer/wall plugin we try. We live in a 2-story row-home, and the room faces the front of the house on the second floor. The house to our right is occupied and the house to the left is in the process of being gutted and redone. The smell does not come from the carpets or bed. If we leave the door open, the odor dissipates and we don't smell it. But we have two dogs we want to keep out of the room so we shut the door during the day. By bedtime the smell is overpowering. There are 2 other rooms on the second floor and neither of them smell. The bedroom shares a wall with both houses to either side of us, and the last wall is shared with the middle bedroom (currently a guest room and unoccupied). The smell has been persistent since we moved in 6 months ago. We had the air ducts cleaned before moving in. Carpets are brand new.

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1 Answer


You did not say WHAT it smells like - earthy, pungent, rotten meat, sewer gas, chemically, sweet or sour, acidic or oily, burning to throat or lungs or eyes, or what - makes it harder to guess without a clue as to what it smells like.

Of course smell outdoors just in case coming from there - but not likely with 6 months and a couple of season changes, UNLESS you are near a garbage dump (within 2-3 miles downwind) or near a sewer pump station or clearification station or such.

Sniff around at the baseboards - to see if seeping in from adjacent apartments. If there is a master bath coming off that bedroom, try running the fan and crawl around and smell if the smell comes in through bedroom floor or walls or such.

Or make up an excuse to visit the neighbors - to introduce yourself, take some cookies over or whatever, to get a sniff whether it is strong in their apartment. Andif you don't smell it there, mention you have had an odd smell in your room adjacent to their (whatefver) room, and have they smelled anything ? May be from a neighbor, or something as simple as a floor drain gone dry in any of the units and the smell is seeping up through the walls to that room.

If in an area without winter, also check gutters out front - sometimes they go pretty rancid (swampy or stagnant pond smell). Also check attic for any dead animal or animal nest or such.

Can also (especially if an old building) be leaking pipes causing fungal growth in the surflooring - yours or neighbors.

You said new carpets - that is usually a red flag for strange smells, especially if described an animal fur (for natural fiber carpets) or chemically (for synthetic carpets or padding). Try - after the room is aired out again - taking a trash can size (30-45 gallon) garbage bag and put it wide-open, open-end down, over an open area of carpet, weighted down all around with shoes or towels or such - so there is no air exchange in that part of carpet.

Let sit all day, when you come home carefully (may take 2 people to do it right) scrunch the neck of the bag closed without letting any air escape or get into it fro the room, twist the neck tight, and take it to a room with no odors. Then carefully, with nose tight to it, loosen the neck twist a bit and stick your nose in, then have the other person (or slowly lie down on it) to force the air inside past your nose. If it had the odor strongly, I would bet it is the carpet or padding or underlayment. Pull up a corner and smell directly at the back of the carpet, the padding, the subflooring. Might be something as simple as a fresh finish on the surflooring (or a stain and odor blocking chemical used by the previous owner/tenant to disinfect animal urine or such) which never dissipated properly. Uncured oil and epoxy-based finishes can sometimes smell quite rank.

Otherwise, you are in luck - I did a couple of fairly recent responses to this type of question, with links to a bunch or previous questions with answers including several with pretty exhaustive lists of possible sources for the smell. (Some of the links in the answers will repeat each other, so keep track of the questionid's you have looked at.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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