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Have Mysterious Odors In Your Home? How to Identify the Source of Those Strange Smells

Have Mysterious Odors In Your Home? How to Identify the Source of Those Strange Smells

When you notice a new scent in your house, it’s kind of hard not to take notice. While some new smells are pleasant, like a roast cooking in the oven, freshly cut flowers, or fresh laundry, others are less-than-pleasing and even downright offensive. Pet odors, sour milk, must, and mothballs are just some examples of disgusting odors that can literally assault your nose. In some cases, it’s easy to detect the source of those displeasing scents, but others, the cause can be a complete mystery.

If you’re dealing with a persistent, unexplained smell, there’s no doubt that you are desperate to find a way to combat the problem. But there’s just one problem: if you can’t identify the source, how are you going to address the issue? To find out how to handle mysterious, displeasing stenches, keep on reading. Below, you’ll find some handy tips that you can use to get rid of that smell once and for all and restore the freshness of your home.

Is the Strange Scent a Danger?

First thing’s first: when you sense a mysterious scent in your home, you want to make sure that it isn’t something that could be linked to something that would be considered an immediate cause for concern. Some long-lasting, displeasing odors may be caused to something that could be harmful to your health and need to be addressed right away. If left unaddressed, your health could be in danger. Though maintaining your home’s indoor air quality is always important, special attention needs to be paid if you’re experiencing any of the following smells.

Rotten egg or sulfur-like smell

If that unpleasant smell that’s wafting through your home resembles rotten eggs or sulfur, you could be in jeopardy, as that scent could be a sign of a gas leak; particularly if it’s in a room that contains a gas-powered appliance, such as a kitchen with a gas stove or a laundry room with a gas dryer. In some gases, the odor may not be serious; for example, a pilot light may be out or you may have left a burner valve opened. In these instances, you should be able to address the issue on your own. In other cases, however, the smell could be a sign of serious danger; for instance, if the source isn’t easy to identify or if you hear a whishing-like sound, these could be signs of gas leaks. Natural gas odorless, colorless, and highly combustible and noxious. A gas leak not only could increase the risk of an explosion, but breathing it in over a prolonged period of time could be deadly. Since it is odorless and colorless, a compound is added to natural gas that creates a sulfur or rotten egg sound so that if a leak does occur, it can be identified.

If you suspect that the strange smell you’re experiencing is linked to a gas leak, vacate your house immediately. Once and your family are in a safe location, use a cell phone or a neighbor’s phone and call your gas provider. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to handle a gas leak yourself, as you could end up doing more harm than good. Your gas company will shut off the supply to your house and will address the problem to detect and correct the source of the problem.

Important info about gas exposure

Natural gas is not only highly combustible, but it also produces carbon monoxide; hence why breathing it in can be extremely harmful to your health. As per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stoves, fireplaces, heaters, and clothes dryers are some of the appliances that could potentially release carbon monoxide. If you or a loved one experiences any of the following, you could be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Irritability
  • Listlessness
  • Confusion

Long-term exposure to carbon monoxide has the potential to result in a loss of consciousness, and in the most severe cases, could even be deadly. To protect yourself and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, a carbon monoxide detector is an excellent investment. They can be purchased at home improvement stores, and they’re pretty easy and straightforward to install. Make sure to place one on each floor of your home and to ensure that they’re functioning properly, be sure to inspect them on a regular basis, as per the recommendations from the manufacturer.

A burning or fish-like odor

There are so many different factors that could contribute to the smell of smoke. Of course, the most obvious cause is a fire; however, even if you don’t see a fire, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one burning in a place where you can’t see it. For instance, the wiring in the wall behind an outlet or light switch could spark a fire.

If you’re smelling something fishy or burning, the first thing you should do is check your outlets and light switches to see if any of them are sparking. This could especially be the cause of the problem if you smell the odor whenever you use a specific appliance or when you plug something into a particular outlet or flip on a particular light switch. If you can locate the source, head to the fuse box and turn off the switch that powers the outlet or switch, and then call an electrician. If you can’t locate the source of the burning or fishy scent, your best bet is to leave your house, get to a safe location, and then dial 911. Let them know the problem and they’ll send the fire department to your home. The fire department will perform a thorough inspection of your house to determine the cause of the issue.

Other kinds of unexplained foul odors

If the smell you’re experiencing doesn’t fit one of the above-mentioned descriptions, you may still have a big problem on your hands that should be identified and corrected as quickly as possible to avoid a potentially dangerous situation; however, the scent that you’re experiencing may not linked to something that’s an immediate threat. Examples of other types of mysterious odors that need to be addressed can include the following.

Damp, musty smells

Is the smell that you’re experiencing is musty, like the smell of mothballs or damp cardboard, you could have a mold or mildew problem on your hands. Mold and mildew are fungi, and the spread by emitting airborne spores. They also emit microbial volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are not only responsible for causing the smell that you’re experiencing, but that could also cause potentially serious health problems. As such, if you suspect that the smell you’re experiencing is linked to mold or mildew, you should contact a professional mold inspection company as soon as possible.

Mold is a naturally occurring organism that aids in decomposition, and while it is very beneficial in nature, when it starts growing inside, it can be very problematic. Indoor mold growth can weaken the structural integrity of whatever it grows on, and breathing it in over a prolonged period of time can cause a number of adverse health effects, such as:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Coughing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Skin irritation
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Respiratory infections

People who suffer from allergies or who have preexisting respiratory health conditions, such as asthma or COPD, are more prone to developing adverse side effects when they are exposed to mold. However, even those who are otherwise health could potentially experience negative health effects when they inhale mold and mildew spores over prolonged periods of time.

How does indoor mold and mildew growth occur? Well, in order for mold to thrive, it needs moisture, warmth, darkness, and air. Note that the area doesn’t need to be excessively warm; just above freezing. Therefore, mold and mildew can grow in any area where moisture is present. The most common locations include:

  • In areas where leaks or floods have occurred
  • Around plumbing pipes
  • Poorly ventilated areas where condensation buildup occurs
  • Underneath appliances that use water or that produce moisture, such as washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, and hot water heaters
  • Around or under plumbing fixtures, such as tubs, toilets, and sinks

If you suspect that the mysterious odor that you keep getting whiffs of is linked to mold or mildew, and you know for a fact that you’ve had a pipe burst, a leak, a condensation issue, or poor ventilation, check around the affected areas. If you can’t find the source of the moisture, call in a reputable professional who can confirm if, in fact, fungi growth is the cause of the problem, and if so, who can recommend tips for eradicating the problem.

Raw sewage

The smell of raw sewage is unmistakable; finding where it’s coming from, however, could be a little more difficult. You could smell the odor in your yard, in a bathroom when you flush a toilet, or coming out of your kitchen sink when you’re washing dishes. In some cases, the scent could be caused by a minor plumbing issue. Sinks and toilets, for example, feature U-shaped pipes. These pipes are known as P-traps, and they use water to prevent the smell of sewage from rising up from the pipes. If a P-trap dries out or if something is blocking it and preventing it from functioning properly, that could be the cause of the stench that you are smelling. If the smell seems more widespread, however, you could have a bigger problem on your hands; your septic tank could be overflowing, the main sewer drain that directs all waste out of your house into the sewer could be damaged, or the sewer tank itself could be damaged.

If the mysterious stink that you’ve been smelling is related to sewage, do some investigating to see if you can locate the source. Whether or not you can find the cause of the sewage smell, calling in a plumber or a septic tank company is highly recommended. If left unaddressed, not only will the smell become worse, but the problem could become even worse, cause serious damage, and require more costly repairs.

Animal odors

If you have pets and you’ve been smelling lingering stenches, your four-legged family members could be to blame. For instance, a cat may be spraying or a dog may have had an accident inside. The smell could also be linked to your furry friend’s fur, as they may have rolled in something and then rolled around on your carpeting or furniture, leaving the stink behind.

Even if you don’t have pets, that doesn’t mean that the smell you’ve been noticing isn’t related to animals. Pests, such as raccoons, squirrels, mice, rats, or mice, for example, may have taken up residence in your attic or basement. Those pests can cause stinky odors due to their droppings and urine, or even if they’ve gotten trapped somewhere and have since been deceased. If you think the stench you’re smelling is caused by unwelcomed animal invaders, get in touch with a reputable pest control company as soon as possible.

Need a Mold Inspection?

If you believe that unpleasant odor that has been lingering around your house is the result of mold growth and you’re looking for a reputable mold inspection company, contact M&IT. Mold Inspection and Testing is one of the biggest mold inspection companies in the country. With locations in most major cities, our team of professionally trained, fully licensed and insured technicians will use the most advanced tools and technologies, combined with the most proven techniques and strategies, to test the air and the surfaces in your home. If mold is detected, we’ll let you know and will make recommendations that you can use to correct the issue.