Bad Smell --- Dead Rat?

fandlilSeptember 1, 2008

At first we thought it might be a gas leak. We had the gas company rep check things out, and it's not that. But he found some rat droppings in the crawl space and says that there may be a dead rat somewhere that's causing the smell.

We're having the exterminator come to the house in a couple of weeks for the routine annual inspection. What should we tell him? Is it reasonable to expect him to find a dead critter somewhere in the crawlspace that's responsible for the smell? If not, what should we do?

The smell seems to be strongest in the living room, in certain areas in the living room, and much less pronouned as you move away from the area of strongest smell. One speculation from the gas company rep is that the rodent crawled into a space between the floor and the insulation under the floor and died there. How do we find it without tearing out all the insulation?

Another possibility is that the rodent managed to get into the duct system and died there. Is there a way of finding out if that's what happened without ripping out all the ducts?

Any other suggestions?

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if you cannot easily find it, then live with it until the smell goes away. dead rodents will only smell for a few days to worst case 2 weeks. after that they are gone.

could also be sewer gas, check for any dry traps on drains. run some water in to each drain, make sure you get them all. if you cannot get under the house, when the exterminator comes ask him to look and make sure you don't have a plumbing leak while he is under there. he has to look every where anyway, so it does not hurt to ask.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 5:04PM
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davidandkasie, Thanks for your post. The smell has been around for more than 2 weeks. My wife is much more sensitive to it than I am -- no surprise, because women are supposed to have a more sensitive sense of smell than men. To me it seems that the smell comes and goes, and I cannot figure out what that fluctuation might be due to. It's not related to when the AC blower goes on.

I haven't had the HVAC duct cleaned even once in the 17 years we live here (the house is 23 years old). We were told that it is not necessary. Now I wonder. We do, however, put in expensive filters (FILTRETE) that are endorsed by the American Lung Association, and change them every 3 months as per directions. And our vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter. Our crawl space has a kind of musty smell, different from the smell in the house that we're worried about. The crawl space is well ventilated. We have a dehumidifier there, but used last about 10 years ago to dry it out after a water leak made a mess. Since then, we haven't felt the need to use it. But I might use the dehumidifier for a few days, just in case the problem is caused by humidity that's seeping in from the crawl space. It wouldn't hurt any to try that.

Any other suggestions would be welcome.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 9:06PM
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In the house we bought last year we had a similar situation in the basement (that was already finished). The smell was not just a 2 week was there for numerous weeks (or at least it seemed so to me).

We had part of a wall torn down to make more room and didn't you know what we found? A couple of dead mice that had found their way into the wall.

Sure, the smell then was gone, but, that's not the end.

A few day's later we found a recently mouse in the ceiling fan for the 2 piece bathroom down there.

Then a few days later stil we found a dead mouse in one of the drawers in the same room.

The cause? The dryer vent is a little 'different' in that it vents out to a side garden. Well, the vent cover was broken and cracked, sufficient for a mouse or two or three or .... to make their way past the broken vent cover and into the house.

The quick fix was to simply go our and buy a new vent cover, install it in place of the broken one, use caulking between the brick and the new vent cover, and the mice have not returned in a year now.

So, while this does not tell you what might be causing your smell but perhaps what might help prevent a re-occurance in the future.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 1:21PM
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We just returned from a brief vacation. Thank you, dan_dhrt for the story of your experience. We do not know what is causing our problem. Our latest speculation is that it might be due to the fact that we have never had the ducts in our system cleaned. We were told once a long time ago that it is not necessary. I resisted having it done becuase I was concerned that, if the contractor is not careful (or competent) they could damage the inner lining in a duct. That would complicate things. But we've decided to find a trustworthy contractor (through word of mouth) and take our chances.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 10:34PM
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