Yet another fishy odor thread

MarkS1968November 7, 2011

Greetings all,

I am writing about an odor issue that has been bugging my grandma for a few years. Every so often over the past 3 years or so there has been a fishy type odor in her house. It seems everyone that smells it describes it differently, I call it fishy, similar to when a dog�s anal glands are problematic (weird I know), my cousins describe it as blooming pear tree, septic odor, wet duct board, and rotten eggs/sulfur smell. The smell occurs in my grandmas bedroom on the second floor on the east side of the house but sometimes it is present on the west side of the house. The house was built in 1979 and really has not been renovated much since it was built. The kicker about this is how often it appears, it could be several months between occurrences or just recently it smelled 3 times in 2 weeks. I was kinda thinking it was related to an empty sewer vent, but all of the faucets were used frequently before and after the odor events. When the odor arrives it lasts less than 1 hour typically. All the bulbs are at their suggested wattage but if it was melting plastic, why not smell it every time the light is on? If it is an electrical problem in the wall, how would I find it?

She complains about it sometimes, but she will be moving out early next year and wants it to get sorted out. Most of the time it occurs when the lights come on and my family inspected the lights, cleaned and then later replaced the bulbs. They took off the face plates on the outlets and switches and did not see any signs of melting or burning. She also has some light ballasts for her lights.

The odor does not appear to be tied to weather systems (cold or warm fronts) or any type of weather, or time of day. No mold or mildew issues along with no rodent issues. I am really stumped why the smell doesn't happen all the time, I am trying to think of a scenario where if it was electrical why the odor doesn't occur every time the light or outlet or if it is a dead mouse why doesn't it smell all the time. She has central air/heat but the odor can appear during any season, with the central air/heat on or off. She has no animals in the house.

The odor gets so bad sometimes that she has to leave the room but when you walk into the room you cannot pinpoint the location or see anything that would lead you to believe it was causing an issue. Nothing smoking or appearing to be overheated. I am not sure where to look next, maybe the plumbing, but she does not have any water pipes or vents in either of her bedrooms. Does anyone have any ideas?


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My daughter experienced the same thing in her house.. turned out it was the insulation on the ceiling light fixture. They took it down to put a ceiling fan up is how they discovered it...

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 5:58PM
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Thanks, I check that out.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 7:45AM
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I've heard that you can find odors with a candle flame. If you move the flame into an area of odor, the flame will lengthen, slightly at the top, and also get kind of stringy looking. I'm sorry, I can't describe the candle flame any better. It striates, like it's divided into strings. That may help you locate the odor. Is there a bathroom nearby? Have you checked the vent pipes on the roof with a flashlight, be sure nothing has fallen in and died? Let us know about the candle flame. and good luck

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 11:23PM
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I will look into the candle flame trick. The bathroom is on the 1st floor and I will check the roof vents.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 7:57AM
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Check this [long] thread. The consensus was plastic components of electrical outlets overheating. Check the outlets in the rooms where this smell occurs.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 12:01AM
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