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Weird smell in a weird addition

Posted by svs128 (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 29, 11 at 8:53

My home is probably one of the younger here - built in 1950. At some point, a PO build a very small addition to the front of the house expanding the front bedroom by a few feet. This is the only area of the house with a crawl space and the rest of the house has a semi-finished basement. We have no issues (water, mildew, etc) with the basement.

Here is the issue... whenever it is very sunny outside, we notice a very strong smell in the front bedroom. It almost smells like hot plastic (like when you put cheap tuber ware in the dishwasher). The smells isn't affected by the outside or inside temperature. As long as it is very sunny, we smell it.

I thought it might be the old carpet but we've ripped it out and the smell is still there. I trashed the older vertical blinds (worth a try?!) and deep cleaned the room- no help.

We painted the room in July but used non VOC primer and paint. The outside of the house was painted 3-5 years ago (no vinyl siding).

Any ideas?

I'm stumped and DH isn't thrived about entering the crawl space but I'm sending him in on the next nice day. ;)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Weird smell in a weird addition

When was the addition done? Was a permit pulled and plans submitted?

Perhaps the problem lies in the crawlspace, a plastic sheet over the dirt might be collecting water, or it coud be the vapor barrier under the drywall...it could be holding in moisture.

What is the roof made of? Could be from underlayment there.

Hope this helps.


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RE: Weird smell in a weird addition

Could it be Chinese-made drywall? I've read that a large batch imported a few years back produces a profound sulfrous stench. It also damages plumbing and electrical wiring that it encloses. Nasty stuff.


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RE: Weird smell in a weird addition

Thanks for the replies!

I don't believe it could be Chinese made drywell. The addition is much older. We think it was completed shortly after the house was built in the early '50s but haven't pulled any records to confirm.

columbusguy1 - I think you may be right about this being a moisture issue. It isn't in the attic though, we have good access to the attic above the bedroom and it looks/smells OK. I guess that leaves the walls or crawlspace. We have had rain for days here - when it drys up a bit we'll try to access the crawlspace. One issue is that the crawlspace has no ventilation or access door. Nice huh?!


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RE: Weird smell in a weird addition

One issue is that the crawlspace has no ventilation or access door.

Which might be the problem.


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RE: Weird smell in a weird addition

The 1959 ranch house I grew up in had only a crawlspace, it was always dry, and I think had a dirt floor. About every five-ten feet was a vent, 1x2' which we kept open year-round (they had vertical slot openings with screens, which could be closed by sliding a slightly offset panel closed).
Ventilation is a must for crawlspaces! We never had any smells or other problems.


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RE: Weird smell in a weird addition

Quick update - we opened up the crawlspace and did not discover anything interesting. No water issues and the smell we've been experiencing wasn't present inside the crawlspace. So the attic looks good and the crawlspace looks OK. I guess that leaves the walls?! Any other guesses or suggestions?


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RE: Weird smell in a weird addition

Short of tearing off drywall, no. It could even be what was left of a cache from bees who got in between the walls and then died or abandoned the nest. Heat always intensifies aromas.


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