Horrible smell in house

HezickaJanuary 31, 2013

We've been having a horrible smell that comes in the night/early morning. It's sulphery, or like burnt garlic and so very strong that it wakes us up. It seems to be somewhat localized to one side of the house and very very strong coming out of a hall closet. I'm not sure where to start looking for the problem. Some posts I've read have suggested burning electrical wires, leaking sewer trap lines, mold, wet insulation, even degrading mothballs. But, none of those would explain why it's coming in the night like that. When i get home from work around 6pm, there is a lingering smell of skunkiness which can for the most part be sprayed into submission, but then then other odor comes in the wee hours and is overwhelming. Unless, maybe the electrical thing is related to the heater which runs more in the night. Dunno... any ideas?

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Sophie Wheeler

Have you looked in your crawlspce for an actual skunk?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 1:54PM
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Skunks are nocturnal, is it possible that what you're smelling is a skunk coming home in the early morning? Normally they burrow dens but will take advantage of man-made structures as well.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:46PM
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Experience helps in identifying odors. Being reared in the country helps. After cleaning out lots of animal stalls of all kinds, I can identify the animal source of manure being spread on fields when I drive by. Skunks-- I once shot and only wounded one. The next shot finished the job. Between shots, he did his odor thing BIG TIME. I can identify skunk smell.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:28AM
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So I popped the hatch to the attic and stuck my head up there and it smelled like a dusty dry attic, nothing out of the ordinary.

Last night's experiment was to leave the heater off all night and see if it effected the odor at all. And when we woke up in the morning, there was just the mild lingering odor, instead of the awful choking cloud that greeted us the last two mornings. So, there does seem to be a connection.

The guys who installed it suggested we try running just the fan, to further isolate the cause and I'll work on that tomorrow. Thanks to all for your suggestions and anecdotes.

1 Like    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 2:03AM
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I'll just tell this anecdote in hopes it may give you some ideas in tracking down the source. I once had a dead animal smell in my kitchen, but it was intermittent. It lingered for days, but it would come and go a bit. I looked everywhere for a dead mouse or rat, but couldn't find anything. The smell was too strong to be coming from the attic or wall, but again, it would go away a bit.

Finally, in a frenzy of tearing everything out of cabinets and cupboards, I realized it was strongest near the bottom of the refrigerator. I found the dead mouse in the drain pan under the refrigerator. We theorized that it was the fan from the auto defrost that made the smell better and worse.

I'll also say that skunks sometimes get spooked and will spray just enough to linger in the air, but not actually to spray onto something. I often will smell skunk spray outside my back door, where the dogs' fence is, and I think it's from a skunk venturing too close to the fence, getting barked at and spraying as it runs.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 8:04AM
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Does it smell like fish? If so, that is electrical.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 1:14PM
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Foxes sometimes smell like skunk, too. I think it is their urine, so maybe if there are foxes in your neighborhood they are marking your house in that area and the heater is intensifying and spreading the odor.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:55PM
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I had somewhat a similar issue in my house. we recently purchased a 6 year old house.

I noticed a strange Garlic like smell coming in the basement and one room above it and the powder room.. The smell was pungent like garlic. I thought that it could be because of cooking and ignored it. The smell went away after few hours. we initialy thought that it could be because of the furnace as the smell came after we turned on the furnace. Then one day we get the same smell almost after 10 days(this was on the day we dint turn on the furnace). now its in a different room,(upstairs- second bedroom) and no where else in the whole house. I made sure its not coming from the ducts(i coundnt smell anything there), The staringe thing is that it goes away of its own after few hours. we have this garlic like smell almost 10 times now in last 2 months.

I got the furnace cleaned/serviced just incase it was causing it. I got the same smell yesterday in one of the front room on first floor and in the 3rd bedroom.(in opposite direction) facing the outside wall and no other room in the entire house

Thing that drives us crazy is that none of my friends have experience this before and I dint had any luck searching online too about what this could be.

The smell is pungent and very close to garlic( its not when we are cooking food) cos we got it once when we dint cook anything that day . I am sure its not from cooking .

Not sure if any insect or rodent can have that kind of a smell cos if the smell come from one room and there is no smell in the adjacent room.

Just want to make sure its not any toxic gas or anything to worry about.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 10:43AM
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Hi Maybe a ballast for a light . Maybe outside that works on a sensor.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 5:58PM
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