Dead animal smell but no animal

greatlakesmowerOctober 11, 2006

This past summer, a few of us were playing darts down in my unfinished basement. We noticed a rotten animal smell that became very strong and remained the rest of the day. The next morning, I set out to find the smell, but it was completely gone. Weeks went by and then it returned in the same location. Again, could not find an animal, then the smell quickly dispersed. Lately we have also noticed this same smell in the playroom directly above the area where the dartboard is. It will last a few hours, and then go away.

My experience with smells from dead animals is that they linger continuouisly until the animal is completely decomposed, or disposed of. This smell comes and goes for going on a few months. My brother-in-law, a property inspector, suspects its an insulation smell. I have exposed insulation along the top edges of the basement and he suggests that I seal it off. I am not sure if that will work or keep the smell from the playroom. Any ideas?

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I can't say I've been near any insulation that smells like a dead animal. The in-laws did have a rat die in the space between the bottom shelf of their kitchen cabinets and the floor.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 8:34AM
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I just dealt with that horrible dead varmint smell in my basement. It was driving me crazy for the last week. It too would come and go and I noticed it followed our weather patterns (worse when it was warm). It was coming from the back utility room of the basement. It seemed much stronger at the top of the foundation where the upstairs sub-floor overhangs. I removed all the fiberglass insulation thinking I was looking for a dead squirrel, chipmunk etc. I didn't find one. I went outside after I got a tip from an exterminator. He told me that 98 percent of the time when he is called out for dead smell in the basement that the problem is outside not inside. Underneath our fireplace chimney is a void of about a foot to ground level. There are some decorative bricks that are not attached surrounding the void. I removed them and voila! Two very large muskrats were dead and decomposing right up against the foundation! I used a garden rake and extricated them. I put them in triple sealed garbage bags for our trash man. I didn't want to bury them as I was afraid some dog (maybe mine) would dig them up. Look outside and if you have any kind of alcove, deck or such that offers shelter could be the source of your problem. Honestly, it smelled like they were in the house! I hope this helps some because I was ready to sell the place.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 3:50PM
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Have you checked the traps in any floor drains? If they dry out, they will let sewer gas in. Fill with water and add a tablespoon of mineral oil to slow evaporation.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 7:19PM
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I have never heard of exposed insulation smelling like a dead animal. Not even wet insulation. I understand your thought process that a dead animal smell should be constant but then again many bad smells like urine will come and go based on humidity, temperature, etc.

Its not to often that someone describes a real bad smell as the smell of a dead animal. It must be pungent. I would tend to believe it is a dead animal and would suggest you do a very thorough search. Recently someone else posted about a bad smell in a bathroom that would come and go and it ended up being a dead rodent in the bathroom vent.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 11:41PM
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We had to put rat poison out and now the rat is dead but we believe it's in either the ceiling cavity between floors or a wall cavity. Obviously we can't start to pull the walls and ceiling out, but how do I get rid of or mask the smell. How long will it take to completely decompose and is the smell harmful to our health.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 5:22AM
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One way to get rid of the odor is to use an ozone-generating air purifier. The ozone will literally destroy the smell by oxidizing and breaking apart the long stink-molecules. The ozone will also give you a dry throat and headaches, so run the unit when you are not at home and turn it off when you return home. After turning it off, the ozone very quickly reacts with everything around it and turns into regular old oxygen. I was able to completely rid our kitchen of fried fish smell in a hour or two, windows closed when I was trying out a unit (Alpine Air Purifier) my neighbor was trying to sell me.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 8:27AM
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