How to locate source of foul odor

clocker122004October 14, 2008

Does anybody know how to locate a bad odor source? We have a bad smell that is similar to the smell of cold grease in an old skillet. It never gets stronger than that. We thought it might be a dead squirrel in the interstitial between our 1st floor ceiling and 2nd level floor. We have a 16-inch space there with manufacturered trusses.

We have had squirrels get in there before and actually had to remove some stair treads to get one out one time. But we have not heard anything lately. (Our dog would have heard it if one was in there again.) But the smell never gets to the rancidness of decaying meat.

The odor is confined to a specific area of the house; in the living room & master closet which shares a wall with the living room. The only other thing that is in that area is the sanitary sewer line from the 2nd floor bath. It runs in a chase that is common to those rooms. We do not see any water leakage though. The odor is not constant either. It gets worse from time to time but never really goes away completely.

We are at a loss as to what kind of service company we would call to investigate this. Any suggestions? Do termites make an odor? I have heard they create methane...

Thanks to all...


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i would say use your nose to find the strongest smelling area, then open the wall/ceiling in an easily repaired spot. if you have rodents, their nests stink to high heaven as well. all rodents urinate/defecate all around their nests, so you could be smelling that.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 2:53PM
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If you have a sanitary sewer line in that area, before opening walls suspecting rodents, unless you see or hear them, I would have a inspection camera sent down looking for breaks, cracks and leaks.

A good camera operator can find any problem.

Many plumbers and and home inspection companies perform
this service

Drilling holes in drywall versus cutting and ripping will allow camera access to check for vermin also

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 3:25PM
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I definately agree with zl700, you could have a small tiny leak in one of the joints or something, but a plumber is the best place to start. If it was a dead animal, it wouldn't smell like old grease and would rapidly turn into a very ugly smell and you'd know what it was. Waiting to take care of it puts you at risk for more problems, try to get to the source as soon as possible.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 5:42PM
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Thanks for your advice. We did have a new roof installed because of hail damage. The odor began after the new roof was installed. They may have broken a joint in the vent stack. All the vent pipes were off the heaters and water heater after they had gone. I just couldn't imagine they would bother the plumbing vents. Can a plumber drop a camera in from the roof and spot a gap in the vent stack?

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 6:18PM
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This might sound crazy, but do you still have a vent stack coming out of the roof? I've seen roofers cover them over...

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 9:27PM
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Sounds like more than a roofing replacement and involved replacing sheathing too. Without proper support and being careful, yes if they disturbed the appliance venting, they could have easily disturbed the joints or broken the plumbing vents also.

Yes cameras can come from the roof, this is done often for chimneys.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 10:03AM
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