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Strange 'fishy' smell

Posted by tarajen (My Page) on
Tue, May 23, 06 at 11:09

Hello all - My parents are having an issue with a somewhat fishy odor that comes & goes in one area of the house. When present it's noticeble when you come up the stairs into the hallway. They can't seem to pin point the source of it or identify any factors that may be contributing to it (time of day, heat, mold, dead animals).

I've seen some information indicating that it could be "sewer gas" coming in from one of the faucets that isn't used on the double sink in the bathroom, but wouldn't that have more of a "sewer" odor?

They're about at their wits end with it, especially since they're attempting to sell the house and prospective buyers have noted that they've encountered the smell. I beleive that this is something that has only come about in the last year or so. They've lived in the house for 10 years & it was never a problem before now. They have not painted in that area recently or had any other major work done. They did get the water heater replaced a few years ago, but I can't recall if the smell began before or after that, I'll have to ask.

Any ideas or suggestions? They really don't want to have someone start knocking holes in the wall to figure out where it's coming from, but it's starting to look like they might not have a choice. Is there such a thing as a "Smell Detective?" (Hehe!)

I really appreciate any feedback you guys have to offer! Thank you!!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

A drain (not the faucet) in a disused sink could well be the source of the problem. The water in the trap can evaporate, leaving nothing to prevent sewer gas from entering the house. This is a fairly common source of this type of problem in basements: floor drains that aren't used much or at all.
A badly corroded or broken vent line inside a finished wall could cause this as well, damage can occur when someone drive a nail into a wall and punctures a vent line without realizing it.
The intermittent nature of the problem fits with an open vent somewhere, as the problem will be worst whenever water is draining and causing air to move within the vent system. Toilets flushing; bathtubs, clothes washers and dishwashers emptying, etc.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Airqual Guy - Thank you so much for your reply! I'm forwarding the information over to my Mom right now. Hopefully this will help us to solve the mystery! :) Tara


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Hi,
I just read your message. I am having the same problem in 2 closets in my home. I noticed the smell after I painted them and hung shelves and hooks. The smell is very strong on some days and milder on others.
If I "punctured a vent line" do I have to tear down all the walls to find it? What do I do? I look forward to hearing from you, thanks so much,


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

when you hung the shelves you should have noticed one area that was more difficult to drill into. vent pipes are made of several different materials. older houses have black iron or clay pipe (hard to drill into but not impossible); newer houses have black plastic (ABS in our area, drills like butter). you wouldn't need to tear down the walls. If in fact you did drill into a vent pipe, you already know the location (it's the fastener). first determine if you've drilled a vent. If you have you can plug it with epoxy of some other adhesive. The vent line doesn't have any pressure or liquids.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Good point re vent lines, but a fishy smell is almost certainly something dead...mouse or rat or something....perhaps a building or better still, pest inspector could narrow it down, they'd be the ones to know!


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We kept smelling a fishy smell and it turned out to be an electrical outlet that was melting inside the wall. The circuit was overloaded (we did not know that). It took the outlet smoking before we figured it out. Since then we smelled that fishy smell again and found another outlet to replace. We were lucky both times that we were home or our house could of burned down. I would take off the outlet covers in that area where you smell that fishy smell and inspect the wires inside.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

On anohter thread, a "fishy" smell turned out to be melting plastic light covers....the bulbs were too high wattage.
I would check everything plastic in the area.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Found the source of the smell. Thanks to the posting by LOGIC - I saw that the plastic fixtures (supplied by the builder) were melting. We took them down and they smelled like fish!!!! Thanks for the all the help.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Hi there!
I too have this beloved odor permiating the walls in my sons room. I've read some of the commentary posted, and so far, it's not anything leaking, not any dead animals in my walls, my electrical seems to be in order (I've felt the sockets in the room as well as in the adjacent room, and they are all cool - so I don't believe anything is melting behind the wall). My husband and I are going insane trying to resolve this. Are there any other suggestions I may have missed??? Thanks for your ideas!!!


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

if your son is a teen, then you REALLY don't want to know what the smell is.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Oh come on DavidandKasie -- Don't leave us guessing on that one...


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

let's just say that as they outgrow toys they find new things to play with. this results in a certain smell permeating the air.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Thanks to your posts, I was able to solve the two year old mystery of the disgusting fish smell that came and went in my kid's bedroom. It was the hanging lamp. The socket was brown and cracked, and on the way to causing a fire. It smelled like fish! I was at my wits end over the odor, ready to call a contractor. It was cheaper to throw away the lamp! Thanks again.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

My neighbors were having a fishy odor in a hallway closet, under the stairs. At first they thought it was something (rodent) that had died inside a wall, but, after carefully checking, couldn't find anything.

This smell has gone on for months and seemed to be really bad one evening. I decided to google it and found this forum along with another one that all basically said the same thing. One thing stood out though...the comment that said..."Check the electrical, nothing smells as bad as a burnt down house".

My neighbors electrical panel is in that closet.
Sure enough, her husband discovered a hot wire that night. Upon pulling the breaker, he dicovered that the back of the breaker had actually melted inside the panel.

Thanks for the heads up!!!!


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Thanks for the info about the smell being related to electrical- I always assumed that an electrical would smell- well like that burning electrical odor.

I do have to laugh about the smell of fish/electric. Many years ago I had a friend that was married. She and DH started having marital problems and it turns out he had a mistress- and a child with her. When my friend found out she immediately packed everything, while packing revenge of a scorned woman set in.
She took all of the wall plates for the outlets off and stuck sardines from a can into them and put the plates back on - with liquid nails.

It was an ugly divorce but she took some satisfaction when he called her asking about the odor- she told him it was the stench of infidelity and lies.

Moral of the story- smell something fishy and you can't get the wall plates off- you've got bigger problems


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It's true, I've smelled a hot electrical smell that could be argued to be fishy, hot bakelite especially.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Curtain Rods!

She spent the first day packing her belongings into boxes, crates and suitcases.
On the second day, she had the movers come and collect her things.
On the third day, she sat down for the last time at their beautiful dining room table by candle-light, put on some soft background music, and feasted on a pound of shrimp, a jar of caviar, and a bottle of
spring-water.
When she had finished, she went into each and every room and deposited a few half-eaten shrimp shells dipped in caviar into the hollow of the curtain rods.
She then cleaned up the kitchen and left. When the husband returned with his new girlfriend, all was bliss for the first few days.
Then slowly, the house began to smell.
They tried everything; cleaning, mopping and airing the place out.
Vents were checked for dead rodents and carpets were steam cleaned.
Air fresheners were hung everywhere. Exterminators were brought in to set off gas canisters, during which they had to move out for a few days and in the end they even paid to replace the expensive wool
carpeting. Nothing worked!
People stopped coming over to visit.
Repairmen refused to work in the house.
The maid quit.
Finally, they could not take the stench any longer and decided to move.
A month later, even though they had cut their price in half, they could not find a buyer for their stinky house.
Word got out and eventually even the local realtors refused to return their calls.
Finally, they had to borrow a huge sum of money from the bank to purchase a new place.
The ex-wife called the man and asked how things were going.
He told her the saga of the rotting house. She listened politely and said that she missed her old home terribly and would be willing to reduce her divorce settlement in exchange for getting the house back.
Knowing his ex-wife had no idea how bad the smell was, he agreed on a price that was about 1/10th of what the house had been worth, but only if she were to sign the papers that very day.
She agreed and within the hour his lawyers delivered the paperwork.
A week later the man and his girlfriend stood smiling as they watched the moving company pack everything to take to their new home.........
And to spite the ex-wife, they even took the curtain rods!!!!!!


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Thanks so much for this post! We have had a problem of a fishy smell coming from our bedroom (I know, I know, plenty of jokes to be had). We thought it was a dead animal in our ductwork, however the smell would eminate even when the AC or heating was not running. Turns out the smell was from our ceiling fan light fixture. The smell was coming from the plastic. I could hardly touch the metal on the light casing it was so hot. The light fixture only holds candleabra type light bulbs. It came with 40W bulbs, but I thought they were too dim so I put in 60W. The light is only rated for 40W however (I was aware of this and still put the 60W in, dumb huh?). The smell didn't show up right away otherwise I probably would have figured it out sooner (only took me a year). I took the 60W bulbs out and will put 40W back in. Hopefully the plastic hasn't broken down too much and the smell will stop. I guess a dim bedroom is better than burning the house down.


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I would still be concerned about the plastic coating on the wiring. You might want to get someone to check it out before continuing to use the fixture even with lower wattage bulbs.


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HI,the other day i changed my light fittingon my ceiling ever since i have had a fishy smell i could not find were the smell was coming form but reading up on these posts i think it maybe the light as it comes when the light is on i have just turned my light of to let it cool - is this normal as it was boling and i burnt my finger ? hopefully i will find my soultion x


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

OMG. I'm glad I came across this chain of postings. I was thinking that my fishy smell is coming from the carpet. It seemed like every time I vaccuumed or dragged a piece of furniture across the floor, then the smell would re-occur. But now, after reading this message board, maybe its the electrical outlet into which I plug the vaccuum. On the other hand, maybe it's mold (we had water leaking from our master bathroom several months ago as well as a water heater leak near our bedroom.) My husband insists on getting the carpet professionally cleaned first. If that doesn't work, I think we'll call a home inspector or electrical inspector. The smell is crazy strong!


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

THANK GOD FOR THIS WEB SITE, BEEN HAVING FISHY SMELL FOR MONTHS, FINALLY WIFEY CAME HOME ROOM WAS SMOKING AND FISHY SMELL WAS PRESENT,WE CALLED FIRE DEPT THEY COULDNT FIND IT,SO WE TURNED EVERYTHING OFF AGAIN.. WIFEY SAID, HEY LOOK UP FISHY SMELL ON THE WEB, WOW SAVED MY HOUSE, FOUND PLUG BEHIND BED SMOKING..FOUND THE SOURCE OF FISHY SMELL..


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

bought newly built house 2 yrs ago in June. had no problems w/ smell until weather changed and we started opening windows and doors some. then when we would turn on the air a horrible fishy smell came out of vents. mostly in master bath and laundry room (which r one opposite ends of house)but can smell throughout. had builder, hvac guys and county inspector out. no one could find an answer. as weather got colder smell went away completely. we though we were done w/ it until weather changed again then it came back. still dont know wht it is, it only comes when weather changes. checked electrical stuff and didnt find anything there. if anyone knows what this could be pls help. the smell is awful and embarrassing. we dont want to have people over with this smell.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Hey Alabama, we are having the exact same problems! No smell in the cooler weather and now that it is warming up........fishy smell :-( We too are very embarrassed! Please, let us k now if you have found your problem!


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I'm really happy that I read this today! My husband was ready to tear out a wall in the closet to find the smell. We didn't think to look up at the light. It will be a lot less expensive to just replace the old ceramic light fixture and see what happens first.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Alabama & dame1600,

We are in a new home and have had this same problem for three years. The fishy odor only occurs in the summer months and tonight was the first time we smelled it this year. It is usually at the end of the day. I had the builder replace all the flex pipe in the upstairs HVAC system but no one has ever discovered the cause. The electric socket / fixture idea is a new one on me and apparently solves several posters' issues but doesn't explain why my (our) smell only occurs during the warmer months.

I had an inspector out at the end of last summer who ran $1,000 worth of tests just to tell me it wasn't mold or any other health or environmental issue. That provided some relief since we have two young children.

Although I don't have a solution yet, you may want to try this: take some insulation -- I used a bit from the drop down attic staircase -- and moisten it in the sink. Then seal it in a plastic bag and leave it in the attic during the day, where it will heat up. When I opened the (hot) bag, I smelled the same odor that is driving me crazy. Wet insulation puts off a fishy smell. I'm convinced I have a leak somewhere in my walls where the leaking moisture keeps wetting insulation, which puts off this smell behind the drywall. Because it only happens during the hotter time of the year, the moisture is probably in the condensation line (pipe) leading from the A/C system. I felt like I was getting closer last year and then the weather cooled to the point that the odor went away. So here I am in year four, fingers crossed that I finally get this thing solved.

Please keep me informed if either of you get anywhere. You two are the first posters that seem to be having the same problem as my family.

BTW, I'm really surprised at how many "professionals" are baffled by my problem yet so many people are posting about similar problems. I've had at least 10 inspectors, plumbers, electricians, and HVAC guys say "Wow, I've never heard of anything like this."


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Braskey - I came across a similar post on another website and they said their problem was indeed their insulation: http://www.fiberglassfishodor.com/

I am having a fishy smell in my basement now for the past two mornings. It seems to be centered around a hallway a basically empty room and a bathroom. It is extremely strong in the early morning, so it seems unlikely that it is a light fixture since they're off all night. It's an older home with no changes in the last couple of years... In the basement bathroom I've snaked a drain and poured water and drano down the sink and shower, but that didn't help as today it was just as bad.

The floor drain is in the laundry room and it doesn't really smell bad in there.

Any other suggestions?? Thank you!!


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I'm having the same problem. There is a strange fishy smell in one area of the house that is noticeable because of the air conditioner. What is it? Thanks!


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

had a real bad fishy smell in the house, turned out to be cat urine. the more it dried, the worse it got. never realized cat urine could smell so bad.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Over the past few days we have developed a strange fishy smell first smell was like bad rubbished then got worst. Its coming from the area around the main duct vent in the ( one that sucks air ) ive been under the house and found nothing , although i cant get around the whole house. Ive been up in the roof and found nothing , we had guys come out with a camera to inspect the return duct vent for dead animals and still nothing, do you have any ideas??


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Over the past few days we have developed a strange fishy smell first smell was like bad rubbished then got worst. Its coming from the area around the main duct vent in the ( one that sucks air ) ive been under the house and found nothing , although i cant get around the whole house. Ive been up in the roof and found nothing , we had guys come out with a camera to inspect the return duct vent for dead animals and still nothing, do you have any ideas??


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

I had this problem coming from a ceiling fan, from what I've read that smell is the over heating of the ceiling fan or anything electrical overheating, and it is causing the outgassing of formaldehyde=fishy smell. This has made my 16 yo daughter VERY sick for the past 11 months took me 3 months to pinpoint it and get rid of fan. She is better now only having about 1 seizure per month instead of 3-5 per week! She has had every medical test under the sun. I just stumbled upon other post about the mystery fish smell researched it more and found formaldehyde resins and such are in the plastics (fixtures, plugs etc.) and decided to have her room checked for formaldehyde. It was about 4 times over the exposure limit for a "normal residence". So please don't play around with this! Get it checked out!


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Had same problem w daughters bedroom and thought it was related to vents. Also have crawlspace issues so assumed it was related. Just checked old ceiling fixture and eureka! That was the culprit! Thank you all, I was in despair bc trying to buy new house and rent this one. Thank you!!!!


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

At last I'm not alone in this problem! I googled smelly odor and found this post! I've been battling this for a month now! It's in my kitchen so naturally I thought it was maybe the garbage can! NOPE! The refrigerator...NO again! I've cleaned out under the sink..nothing! It comes and goes! Usually by 2 pm it's present or for sure at 6 to 8 pm. Years ago we did have a receptacle that was burning in the laundry room and it smelled of fish but I hadn't remembered that until I found this post! So today, I'll be sniffing around the receptacles and light fixtures to see if I can find the culprit! It's very upsetting when you know your house is CLEAN and people ask "what's that smell?" Has anyone found any other issues that produce this same smell, in case it's not a receptacle or light fixture? I'm exhausted from searching for the culprit! Thanks everyone!


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Just referred here for the same- found it in an outlet with a melting 3 way. Thanks everyone!!


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

AngelWings2000..... did you find the cause of the odor?
I have the same problem, very pungent odor only in the second half of the afternoon; can't believe it could be electrical since the electricity if flowing 24/7 but the odor comes only in the evening. Clues?


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

I had the same problem with my dryer giving off the terrible fishy smell. Found this page and the problem--the outlet to the dryer was melting from a wire that had come loose. Thank you for keeping this page active! We searched and cleaned everything 15 times and were going crazy and spending way too much money calling people in (vent people, plumber) only to find the the problem was a $12 part. Wish I would have googled earlier!


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Our house suddenly became afflicted with the mystery fish smell. Glad I saw these posts because I remembered changing a light bulb recently. I don't know if I used too high of wattage or what, but that is where the smell was coming from. Thanks everyone!


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

A few weeks ago I began having the same stinky fish odor in my living room. Like a few others here in this forum, it is intermittent. I seems like the smell is coming from the ac duct, but what is odd is that there are 2 ducts in the room and the smell is dominant in only half the room. I cannot get the cover off the vent to see if there is something there.
This is a rental and when I brought it up to landlord his attitude was one of "that sucks for you." I can't stand this smell! The odd thing is if I turn on my ac the smell will go away. If I turn the ac off and the room gets about 79 degrees or so, the stink comes back (late afternoon mostly). This smell is very embarrassing and I cannot figure it out. I have sniffed every outlet, lamp, fan in the room and it doesn't come from them. I hope if someone else figures this out they can come back on.

Note, I noticed the smell a day or so after I painted the living room. Is it possible that it is the paint that I used? I bought it from Lowe's the brand is Valspar, it is not cheap paint. Has anyone had a fishy smell come from paint?


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Ok guys, I am in UK and have registered to say thanks for saving me from a potential disaster. Long story short, fishy smell when using tumble dryer. Thought we might have damp problems. Read the notes on the forum re electrical problems. Turned tumble dryer on for ten minutes then pulled the plug out the socket on the wall and it was so hot I had to drop it imediately, the socket on the wall showed signs of overheating. The plug had partially melted.
Have booked electrician to come asap to inspect and sort out. God forbid my daughters had loaded the dryer and gone upstairs and left it. So, just want to say many thanks for the above comments and any fishy smells in houses - Check wiring.!


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Thank you so much for this thread!
I was looking everywhere for the source of this funk. I opened up the ceiling fan light and I can see where the light sockets got too hot and changed colored and the Fire Hazard warning sticker had started to melt and curl. The bulbs are the correct wattage so I will be calling an electrician.


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Here is a big BIG thank you to those involved in the "fishy smell" answers. We have been having it in our home, it glides through, disappears before we can catch up with it!! A smile for your day is that I was surfing the net to see if the smell might be one of our pet birds: - )
Anyway, reading about the electrical outlets on this forum reminded us of an earlier problem with an outlet we thought was caused by an overhead light---when I leaned down to the outlet, not only was it smelling a bit like fish, it was also hot to the touch---we have uncovered some crossed wiring and are now repairing what could have been a major disaster in our home!!! Thanks again for sharing---this sparked (pun intended) us to register at this site and take the time to warn others---fishy smell that comes and goes? Safely check your outlets.


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KEEP THIS THREAD ALIVE!

I smelled a strange fish smell in my basement, decided to google it one night. Found this thread, went and checked the room with the strongest odor and low and behold one of the outlets was close to burning the house down. Outlet was halfway melted and the wiring was charred several inches into the cabling.

Check your outlets if you smell a sudden fish smell in your home!


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I also had to sign up just to confirm that we had a fishy smell in the house - thought it might be something to do with the sewer as it seemed to happen when doing laundry, showers, dishwasher. Read this post and once the smell started again we started checking and sure enough found the breaker for the hot water tank was actually melting... thanks for all the messages that led us in the right direction!!!


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I hope people are still looking at this thread and can give me their input. We moved into a home in Mar. that was built in 2004. We replaced all the carpet and painted the entire home inside. Upon moving in we noticed a smell that is hard to describe. It is not what I would call fishy. The smell is almost a gas smell (we have had the gas company out three times and they tested for gas). The smell is not of a dead animal, mold or mildew. It's a bad, sweet, gassy, varnishey, smell. Confusing.

More confusing, I have determined the smell only appears when the doors to the outside are left open. If you leave the door to the laundry room open the smell appears on that side of the house. If you leave the door to the back yard open from my bedroom it appears in the bedroom. These rooms are the complete opposite sides of the house. The smell is not coming from outside. Logic would say it is in out ducts but if the doors are shut, the smell does not appear with the AC or heating on.

For the last 3 months I have been checking electrical for any overheating, I have been in the attic (no smell at all in the attic), I have opened up the drywall in the laundry room, have had very handy friends over, and have hired an inspector to get more input. I CAN NOT FIGURE IT OUT.

I am now going to pay several hundred dollars to have the air tested next week.

HAVE I MISSED ANYTHING THAT COULD EXPLAIN THIS.

Sorry for the essay but if you made it this far, thanks for any possible help.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Matt, I don't have any quick answers for you, but I'm curious what you're going to test the air for? As in, what substances? Did whoever is doing the testing suggest something?


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

toxcrusader.,

a voc test.

this is driving me mad.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

It certainly sounds like a mystery the way you describe it. Please post the results. I happen to be an environmental chemist who works on hazardous waste sites, so I might be able to help interpret. Keep in mind, though, that the standard VOC test (method 8260 to be precise) doesn't detect everything and anything that could be in a gaseous form and have an odor. It could be something the test will not measure.

When the gas co. came out, did they just use a handheld methane meter or did they take air samples back to the lab? This could mean the difference between "It's not a natural gas leak" and "it's not any of these 15 things".


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DO NOT IGNORE THIS WARNING! POTENTIAL FIRE AND DEATH!
I originally smelled it after plugging in a heater and the air blowing out from it smelled fishy. I thought it was the heater but when I plugged it elsewhere, no smell. Forgotten when the heater was put away after the winter. I stared to smell it again recently and googled it. Sure enought the outlet and al the wires going to it were fried and very hot to the touch. DO NOT IGNORE THIS!


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Hi,
I too suffer from a fishy smell in my home. I was cooking lots of fish last summer and so it made sense that you could smell a fish smell. My friend and family were commenting on the smell so I stopped cooking fish. They kept commenting and I couldn't figure it out as I had stopped cooking fish. I personally can't smell the odor but some people can. It is very frustrating as I have given up fish, threw the fish out of my freezer and still have the smell. I have started being diligent about putting water down all the the traps(plumber suggested that high winds can also dry the water barrier layer up and thus you will get a sewer smell.) I found out that I had not been putting any water in a trap in a closet which is plumbed for upstairs laundry (I currently use the downstairs laundry plumbing.)I also paid a man to go up on my roof and run water down the 2 traps up there as the plumber suggested that perhaps leaves were blocking the passage and trapping the smell. My house smells a little better according to my friend(I still don't smell it.) It has been suggested to me that I can pay to have my house ozonated. They pump 03 into your return air vents(think that is what he said) for 24 hours and then open the windows and air your house out for an hour. You must remove all humans, pets and plants during the process. Eeeekkk. Has anyone tried this??


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

pppetal, it sounds like you are doing the right things. Although I wouldn't have thrown out good frozen food, because it's very unlikely for that strong of an odor to come out of a properly functioning (i.e. cold) freezer. But anyway.

Up on the roof,the plumber was actually putting water into the sewer vent lines, not traps which are the S-curved pipes under each drain. Vents can indeed get plugged up with debris.

The only thing I can think of is the electrical problems discussed in this thread. Does the smell happen when you're using particular appliances? Have you checked for overheating breakers or outlets?


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Hi,
Thanks for the reply and more info on the sewer vent lines on the roof. The smell seems to be present all the time whether I use my appliances or not. I dumped the central vac bag last week and it was very very full. I had my friend smell the central vac outlets and she said they have a smell but not the fishy smell. I had one curly style light bulb at the front door and replaced it today (got rid of the rest of them last year as I thought they all smelled), replaced a bulb downstairs that burned out 2 days ago as well as another one that was slightly discolored. I have a bathroom vanity style strip of lights that had one light that was sagging and fixed that. My friend smelled again and said the smell doesn't seem to her to be coming from any lights. I boiled lots of water and poured it down the sink again. I put some vinegar in a little container down in the basement near the furnace incase that could help. I have cleaned my furnace humidifier about 4 months ago and also the furnace filter. Arrrgggg. I was wondering if I could Febreez the filter and also the central vac bag or if the spray might be flamable. I am so frustrated as I cannot smell the smell myself.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Hi all

Though i would share this information with you all as this forum has helped me find the "Fishy Smell" source in my house. Here goes......For a few months now i was noticing a "fishy" type smell coming from my living room, which was intermittent. i would go a few days without smelling a thing, then one day i would get a very strong smell coming from the room. after trying numerous of times to sniff out the source, i had been unsuccessful. i just assumed it was my next door neighbour who might have been a keen fish and chips eater and the smell was coming into my house. "Mrs always laughed when suggested this". Finally i decided to Google this topic and was surprised to see so many forums on this, having read information on this forum about the electrics, i stated sniffing at every switch and socket in the room, but did not detect any smell. Finally i just happened to open up the cupboard with the consumer unit in and to my surprise the smell was there. Straight away i called out an electrician, who confirmed it was the consumer unit. After opening the box he showed me the Main live wire had begun to burn trough, due to it being short circuited somewhere. i was lucky that the house did not go up in flames and caught the culprit in time thanks to this forum.

Thanks again, hope this info helps future visitors.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

cuzzzy, I had to look up 'consumer unit' and it appears to be what we in the U.S. call a breaker panel, breaker box, load center, etc. Just never heard it called that! Glad you got that sorted out and didn't burn down your house.


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

BINGO!!! It was the ceiling fan. Thank you SO much. My son has been suffering through the smell for three years :(


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Omg, thank you internet and all of you fabulous people!! Everything was normal in the house and we went outside for about 5 minutes and came back in to the most disgusting fish/dead animal smell eminating from our top floor (where 4 bedrooms are). We moved all of the furniture, searched everywhere for signs of an animal and ended up sitting on the couch a half hour later dumbfounded. Decided to google "fishy smell in the house" and this was the top result.

After quickly realizing due to your wonderful posts that this was probably electrical I ran upstairs and noticed the carbon monoxide detector that hadnt been touched since we moved in. We took it out and sure enough behind the socket were burnt wires and melted plastic. Had to sign up for this website just to say thank you all for your posts...you guys helped prevent a looming electrical fire in my house. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell

Omg, thank you internet and all of you fabulous people!! Everything was normal in the house and we went outside for about 5 minutes and came back in to the most disgusting fish/dead animal smell eminating from our top floor (where 4 bedrooms are). We moved all of the furniture, searched everywhere for signs of an animal and ended up sitting on the couch a half hour later dumbfounded. Decided to google "fishy smell in the house" and this was the top result.

After quickly realizing due to your wonderful posts that this was probably electrical I ran upstairs and noticed the carbon monoxide detector that hadnt been touched since we moved in. We took it out and sure enough behind the socket were burnt wires and melted plastic. Had to sign up for this website just to say thank you all for your posts...you guys helped prevent a looming electrical fire in my house. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


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RE: Strange 'fishy' smell - thank you!

Thank you to all the people who responded to this forum; you saved my life, or at least my derelict apartment from burning down. My roommates and I had been smelling this unnaturally salty mal-odor in a certain area of the kitchen, and since we have a very old apartment, we thought it might be moldy or mildewed insulation (since dead rats/mice have a distinct rotten spinach smell, we ruled that out). After stumbling upon this (very helpful) forum, we set about sniffing all the electrical outlets and we found one hidden outlet behind a two 3-Pronged Outlet Adapter (aka: a 6-Outlet Wall Tap) that once unscrewed from the wall, we found a BBQ'd built-in socket and smouldering wires. It was scary, but relieving to find it before it had caused a house fire.

In retrospect here are clues that helped in our investigation:
1) The power in the kitchen & neighboring bedroom kept overloading the circuit and it popped the breaker once a day.
2) The strange salty fishy smell once identified as possibly melting plastic, definitely smelled like burning, salty, plastic.
3) We lived in an old apartment that hasn't been properly rewired to support our modern appliances & abundant use of electronics.

So, cheer's to being young, dumb and broke...and at least we get to live another day. May you keep safe as well.

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