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Question DetailsAsked on 8/9/2014

i can smell a odor (fume) in my house that I know is not gas, sewage, rotten food or dead animal. Who do I call?

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1 Answer


I would ask a couple of friends or neighbors who you are on good, non-competitive terms with to sniff and help identify the source - of course, you cannot be excessively self-conscious about this to do that. Basically, the more people you ask the more likely to identify it, and unless it is animal-related an exterminator or animal removal contractor is no more likley to identify it than anyone else.

Another thing you can do it block off rooms one by one with towels under doors and HVAC off, to let it build up in strength - both to isolate source area, and maybe make it strong enough to be able to identify. Also check whether smells stronger with or without HVAC running - could be something overheating in HVAC system or animal in vent

Possibilities to consider, with common links between type of smell and item:

1) skunk/polecat/wolverine moved in - pretty unique smell

2) dead animal - "heavy" or "thick", rancid fatty smell like grease going rancid

3) mildew/mold from water leak or wet towels/etc thrown in corner or closet - smells like wet towel starting to mildew on hot summer day or clothes left in washer by accident

4) natural gas odorant - THT or mercaptins for natural gas; propane and other gases like butane can smell more like old gasoline or skunk or rotting garbage with some odorants

5) rich, thick refinery type smell - leaking fuel oil tank or lines

6) musty, slightly tangy woody smell - mildew on wood, particularly in attic/roof or wet bathroom floors, or musty tangy smell can be wet cellulose or fiberglass insulation

7) asphalt smell - sun heated roofing or foundation wall waterproofing

8) gasoline or diesel smell - leaking gas can, car or power tool fuel tank

9) methane/sulferous smells - usually either sewer gas coming in, commonly through drains (including washtub, washing machine, floor drain) but also can be detected on calm days coming out of roof sewer vent pipe, or from uncapped cleanout outside house

10) chemical/solvent smell - leaking solvents/cleaners/paints in gaarage, outside shed, utility room, under sinks- or from new electronics or carpets or flooring or furniture or drapes recently installed

11) burnt plastic/rubber smell - overheating fan or blower or furnace, overheating or overly dusty electronics, especially tube-type TV's and computer monitors and transformers feeding electronic devices. Also overheating insulation on electrical wiring.

12) sticky-sweet tangy or acidic smell - rotting food cache from rodents, or decaying honey in honeycomb in walls/attic

13) rotting fruit smell - garbage disposal needs cleaning, fruit/vegetables forgotten in cupboard

14) oily smell - spilled/leaking oil container or small engine, fan or blower with leakingoil reservoir or overheating

If you can provide any sort of description of the smell, reply back using the Answer This Question link right below your question and maybe one of the contributors here can help you more. Try to relate to other smells, and use descriptions like acidic, tangy, bitter, sweet, sour, rubbery, plasticky, woody, rotten, moldy, furry, etc.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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