Unidentified smell! Please help!
Someone please help a pregnant lady out. My nose has gotten much more keen with this pregnancy and I am now repelled by an unidentified smell in our finished basement (it's a split level, so it is more the first floor than a true basement, it is only half buried). No one else can get more than a faint whiff of it, but it is overpowering to me. Here are the details:
Smells sickeningly sweet but dirty - best description would be if a dusty dog rolled around in honey
This is now 4 months of the smell, so I am pretty sure if it was something dead it would have decomposed by now.
It is not the carpet - I steam cleaned them and can stick my face down on it and no trace of the smell
The smell seems strongest right in our kitchenette at the bottom of the stairs.
It is not the drain, sink, pipes - smell tested them all.
The smell seems stronger the higher the temp is outside.
We have a dry basement - humidity levels are low and don't seem to change the smell either way
Here's what I've tried:
ammonia washed the linoleum in the kitchenette, though the smell never seemed to be coming from the floor
placed activated charcoal in the suspended ceiling
removed the suspended ceiling tiles (the smell seems to me to maybe be coming from the ceiling - one tile smelled very syrupy to me), let them sit outside in 100 degree weather, painted them with Kilz - this seemed to work, or at least effectively mask the smell for about 3 days, but now it is back
I can't see any evidence of mold anywhere. No evidence of rodents or bugs anywhere (we've never seen anything but the occasional stink bug in our house). The floor joists don't look rotten or smell funny if I stick my head up there.
Any thoughts? I basically can't go downstairs in my house without gagging (again, no one else smells anything but a very faint whiff of something that only lasts a second or two) or wearing a respirator. Something stinks but I can't figure out what. I keep thinking it is ceiling related, but I'm not entirely sure - the smell is so strong to me I can't localize it well, I can just tell when it is better if I move away from it. There's also some painted paneling on the exterior wall in the kitchenette - I can't detect that the smell is coming from there, but it is in the general vicinity where the worst smell is, so maybe something there?
Any help would be much appreciated! Thoughts on smell sources or getting rid of it would be great.