The smell of burning paint?

CaleynaJanuary 9, 2012

I've scoured the web, and this forum seems to be the premiere "what is causing this smell" forum.

Our basement laundry room smells like burning paint. A couple of days ago I noticed an odd chemical smell in the house (end unit townhouse), but my husband had a bad cold and we weren't able to track down the smell.

The next morning we went down to the basement to do laundry and the smell about knocked us both over. It was very obviously coming from the laundry room. It smelled like a mix of burning, chemicals and paint.

We have an almost 30 year old standard fridge (big fridge, small freezer on top), a 10 year old top loading washer and a six month old dryer.

We unplugged the fridge because it seemed to be the culprit. After several hours that didn't seem to be helping. Next we unplugged the washer because it is leaving the clothes very wet and has been doing so for a few days. Still no help. Then we unplugged the dryer.

Today the smell is much less noticeable, but it is still here in the basement. It makes me really nervous. We do have a carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarms, neither of which have been set off.

My neibhor is a long time volunteer firefighter. He came over and said he didn't think it was anything electrical. He suggested we get the dryer vent cleaned out (something we have been meaning to do since we moved in 3 years ago). I made an appointment for Wed. morning, so we'll see if that helps.

I just wonder if I need an electrician or what? Both my husband and the neighbor said I don't need to call 911, even though it is freaking me out to sleep with those smells.

We have gas heat and a gas dryer, but it does not smell like gas. Now that everything is unplugged it mainly smells like paint (we last painted three years ago).

Like I said, we an are end unit townhouse. The laundry room is against the outside wall, so it shouldn't be a smell from neighbors. I have not been able to feel any heat radiating off the walls.

I have looked for any sort of chemical spills, but haven't found anything. The fridge doesn't seem to be leaking anything. I don't know what freon is supposed to smell like.

Sorry for the book. I was trying to give you as much information as possible to work from. Thank you in advance for any help you can give. I really appreciate any expertise you might have. In my hometown I would have had a ton of my dad's construction worker friends I could call, but now we live in a place were I don't know anyone who does that type of work.

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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Next we unplugged the washer because it is leaving the clothes very wet and has been doing so for a few days.
My guess is that it 'could' be a worn belt on the washer that could be slipping and getting hot. I've 'smoked' belts on the riding lawn mower.

My second thought is that the smell will probably linger quite a while in the basement, if there is little to no air movement in it. Is it possible to let some outside air in?

I'd guess that given enough time, the smell will go away. Then, if you use the washer and smell it, you will know the washer is the culprit.

Sue

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 12:19AM
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aidan_m

"My neibhor is a long time volunteer firefighter. He came over and said he didn't think it was anything electrical. He suggested we get the dryer vent cleaned out (something we have been meaning to do since we moved in 3 years ago). I made an appointment for Wed. morning, so we'll see if that helps."

It is the dryer vent. Your 6 month new dryer can't breathe! That is the same thing that caused the old dryer to crap out!

It was a fool's errand to replace the dryer and not even INSPECT the vent. Blocked vents, from lint buildup, are the leading cause of clothes dryer malfunction.

About 5% of house fires in the U.S. are caused by a clothes dryer, nearly all due to excess lint buildup.

Of all the common causes of house fire, I would argue that the dryer is the least obvious source, to most people. Most people do not clean out their dryer vents. This leads to over 12,000 house fires annually, in the U.S. alone.

If everyone remembered to clean out their dryer vent, one time per year, it would cut house fires by nearly 5%.

When a dryer starts taking too long to dry: If it can't keep up with the washing machine, it is a lint problem. It is not time for a new dryer!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 12:17PM
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Caleyna

Thank you both for the information. I had no clue about dryer vent cleaning. I will become a dryer vent cleaning advocate from now on.

I hope the problem is resolved. It turns out the timer on the washing machine was out, so that has been fixed. The dryer vent cleaning guy said I had 0% airflow through the vent, so that has also been taken care of. Now, off to do ten million loads of pukey laundry from a sick baby. Here's hoping that between those two fixes, I don't burn the house down.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 3:53PM
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aidan_m

So glad you got that vent cleaned.

Cheers!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 7:38PM
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dreamgarden

And just in case that smell comes back (or another develops), here is a link that might be useful!

Building Odor Guide: How to Find, Test, & Remove Odors, Odor Detection and Methods to Remove Smells, & Gases in Buildings

inspectapedia.com/sickhouse/Odor-Diagnosis-Cure.htm

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 3:35PM
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toxcrusadr

Way to go HD Forum! Think y'all just prevented a disaster. Congrats!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 2:15PM
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