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If you had an odor in your house...


StaceyinLA
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Who would you call to try and determine what the smell is, and where it's coming from? We know it isn't mold. We have had that checked, redone our entire outside, changed out ALL of our insulation, and put new vinyl siding. We have an odor coming from somewhere. We think it could possibly be plumbing. It's not horrible in the house (that you notice), but when I take my clothing out of a suitcase somewhere, it makes me want to vomit.

 

Who can I call?

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well, if you are flying somewhere, just know your luggage could smell like plane exhaust and the other bags in the belly of the plane. All of the luggage piled up, plus cargo in the plane doesn't leave for a fresh smelling environment. And since my DH handles luggage all day long and then comes home to me, I know how unlovely it all smells :p

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It's not horrible in the house (that you notice), but when I take my clothing out of a suitcase somewhere, it makes me want to vomit.

 

I'm also wondering what you mean by this. Maybe it's your suitcase? Could it be the siding?

 

Other bad odors . . . once we had a bad gasket for the toilet. Yeah, it was stinky, but mostly just in the bathroom, not throughout the house. Dh called the gas co. out just in case but there were no gas leaks anywhere.

 

Another time we had the nastiest smell in our garage. Smelled like something died in there. We were worried about cutting holes in the walls to find the dead whatever. Then I had the brilliant idea that it might be the fire ant bait and moved that outside. The smell cleared out right away.

 

Good luck with figuring it out and getting it fixed!

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lol  The only time this happened to us, it was dead mice (yes plural) in the ducts and drop ceilings (whoever told us to use Decon should be shot).  Took us a long time to pinpoint the actual locations because the smells were subtle enough, but definitely there.

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well, if you are flying somewhere, just know your luggage could smell like plane exhaust and the other bags in the belly of the plane. All of the luggage piled up, plus cargo in the plane doesn't leave for a fresh smelling environment. And since my DH handles luggage all day long and then comes home to me, I know how unlovely it all smells :p

 

I'm still confused.  Are you saying the smell is like the smell of your clothes when it comes out of a suitcase?  Or are you saying that when you go somewhere and then take your clothes out of a suitcase they smell - and that's the only time you smell that smell.. 

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Sorry. It's when I travel, and open my suitcase - my clothes smell HORRIBLE. It's not my suitcase because it happens no matter what suitcase or tote I use. It's my clothes from being in our house.

 

Another example; we gave a twin size bed to dd for dgs. When we put it in his room in their house, I realized how horrible the mattresses smelled. The smell did wane over time, but initially it was horrible.

 

It's just a horrid, musty smell. My dd used to notice it and complain about it when she was pg. It HAS gotten better in the house over time (though it's more pronounced when we have higher humidity days), but when I take items from my house somewhere else, it is very pronounced on the items.

 

Does that make any sense? 

 

And no, no way it's dead animal. It's nothing like that, and a dead animal would've disintegrated by now I'm sure. This has been going on for over a year.

 

Let me add that some people probably wouldn't think the smell was necessarily awful. I mean some people's houses just have a particular smell (like my dd's smells like wood because they have so much wood in it). It just smells more horrible to me because it is so aggravating!

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Clean your washing machine.  seriously those things get nasty and then transfer all of that mildew stink to your clothes.  The washer can look totally clean but inside the drum where the water swishes around can be down right disgusting.  For a top loader, fill your washer up with hot water then pour in 4 cups of bleach and let sit for 1 hour then close the lid and let it run.  Then fill again pour in 4 cups of vinegar let sit for 1 hour then let it run.  During the sitting times be sure to take out and clean the bleach dispenser and fabric softener dispenser.  I never use fabric softener so thought mine would be fine, it was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.  Little bits of dirt and food and such from the clothing was getting trapped in that thing over the last several years.  So gross.  Anyway, after the vinegar has run through you are done though if you choose you can run 1 cycle with nothing added for an extra rinse.  You will likely find your cloths and linens come out smelling much better.  If you have a front loader it is a different set of instructions that you will have to look up :)  As well when washing linens (which transfer their scent to your mattresses), you can add a bit of borax to the load and/or hang outdoors to dry and again you will find them smelling much much fresher (same is true for clothing, but those aren't setting smells into mattresses). Try washing the machine, do a load and when you fold it put it into a suitcase and close it up for several hours as if you were travelling and then open it up and see if you are still smelling the scent.

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Wow - we have something very similar.  Ours happens only when it is very humid (we live in FL so that is pretty much April-Nov) but only from about 4-6 in the afternoon. We bought our house a year and a half ago and have had it since the day we moved in (but only on humid days).  The smell starts around 4 and is gone by 6.  None of the items in our house have picked up the smell though.

 

We have been able to ascertain that it is (most likely) coming from the AC.  It is only in the rooms that are cooled by one of our two systems and is strong when the AC is on.  Both systems are in the same utility room so really no idea why one stinks and one doesn't. 

 

We have had so many AC people out to figure out the problem.  The solution at the moment is a whole new system ($$$$$).  One company has been out here half a dozen times spending hours at a time trying to figure it out, never charging us one penny.  And they have no idea what the cause is. I am beginning to wonder if it has something to do with my sometimes stinky front loading LG washing machine.  The smell is sort of similar to that.  The smell also reminds me of the "sewer gas" smell we'd get in our basement bathroom when we lived up north if we didn't flush the toilet and run the shower weekly.  My laundry room (with my washer) and the utility room (with the AC handlers) share a common wall.  Do you have a similar set up?

 

Good luck....PLEASE if you ever find out what your smell is PM me.  I will do the same.

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Ok, a few more things to clarify. First, my washer is less than 6 months old, and I clean it with the Affresh tabs monthly. Secondly, we have no carpet. Our floors are all ceramic.

 

And I can wash the clothes at my dd's and have them smelling fine, but then come home with them in one of my bags (which I think are also permeated with the smell) and they smell again. If I air out the bags at dd's AND wash all my clothing, they won't smell, but once my bags have been stored in our house, or my clothing has come straight from our house and been in the bags, they smell again.

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Can other people smell it?

Can you smell it on your food?

Have you tried deodorizing your rooms with bowls of vinegar left out for a day or so? Charcoal briquettes can be left out to help deodorize as well. I'd say it's worth a shot, at least it's something cheap to try.

I hope you find a way to rid your house of the smell, it sounds terribly frustrating

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How old is your house?


Homes built in the 60s or earlier are most likely galvanized steel... Though some 70s homes might as well in certain areas. I went home for Christmas last year to my moms 80s construction suburban home, and marveled at her copper. She thought I was nuts! Seriously, bad pipes can be a bummer for so many reasons!

 

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Sorry. It's when I travel, and open my suitcase - my clothes smell HORRIBLE. It's not my suitcase because it happens no matter what suitcase or tote I use. It's my clothes from being in our house.

 

Another example; we gave a twin size bed to dd for dgs. When we put it in his room in their house, I realized how horrible the mattresses smelled. The smell did wane over time, but initially it was horrible.

 

It's just a horrid, musty smell. My dd used to notice it and complain about it when she was pg. It HAS gotten better in the house over time (though it's more pronounced when we have higher humidity days), but when I take items from my house somewhere else, it is very pronounced on the items.

 

Does that make any sense?

 

And no, no way it's dead animal. It's nothing like that, and a dead animal would've disintegrated by now I'm sure. This has been going on for over a year.

 

Let me add that some people probably wouldn't think the smell was necessarily awful. I mean some people's houses just have a particular smell (like my dd's smells like wood because they have so much wood in it). It just smells more horrible to me because it is so aggravating!

Our cottage is like this. When I think *musty*, I think dampness and maybe mold. Are you near the ocean or other large body of water, with high humidity? Do you have a good air exchanger system? If you do, are your sure it's the right size for your square footage? Dampness makes everything smell musty. When I bring linens home from the cottage, it's really noticeable in them the way your clothes are when you travel. Have you tried running dehumidifies?

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House is about 25. We did a huge air ionizer thing in here last spring after dh did all the exterior and we put all new insulation, had the house checked and tested for mold, etc. We are not near water. We DO live where there is a lot of humidity (Louisiana). I say musty to describe it because I can't think of another way. 

 

I think one of the reasons it is so stinking frustrating is because we have done SO much already, and it's still there. The last thing is going to be opening the wall between the bathrooms and having dh look at the plumbing.

 

He told me to ask about who we could call just to check out smells though - was just wondering what type of person would do that sort of thing.

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Have you washed your drapes recently? I once traced a vile odor to some funky mold growing on my drapes. They got damp touching my leaky old window, and the touch the dog when he looks out the windows. This created the perfect breeding ground for a nasty, foot-smelling odor. Luckily I just had to toss the drapes in the washer.

 

Are you SURE it's not your front loader?

 

I think I'd be tempted to wash down the walls and floors with that enzyme stuff for pet stains.

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No. It probably has been a while since I washed all my drapes; probably at least 4-6 months for some. They don't touch my window or anything, and I can't smell the smell any stronger on them (it's the worst on my clothing from inside my closet, which makes me wonder if it isn't the plumbing contained behind my closet walls).

 

I don't have a front loader. I have a high efficiency top load, and it is less than 6 months old (cleaned regularly).

 

My floors are ceramic so they wouldn't hold any odor. I guess I could wash the walls.

 

I'm still hoping for suggestions of the type of professional or worker who might come and try to identify the smell.

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Did you replace any drywall between 2001 and 2009? https://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Drywall-Information-Center/How-can-I-tell-if-my-home-has-problem-drywall/

 

A home inspector with a moisture meter?

Plumbers to check drain vent stack and shower pans? (A friend had a slow leak that went under the shower pan and festered in there. It smelled horrible!)

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Try an environmental inspector, one that's independent of any products or service to sell you. 

 

I have friends that nearly razed their house due to odor seeping in through their basement walls. They never did identify the source but eventually the odor disipate and someone else bought it with full disclosure at a low price. The odor was a bit musty but much stronger. It stuck with clothes, hair, furniture ,etc...whatever was in the home for any length of time. 

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I still suspect the washer.  Have you checked the filter?  Maybe there is a sock that got stuck in it and is now all gunky.  Affresh can't take care of it.  On newer HE machines, the filters are way more easily accessible than they used to be.

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Our house was built in the 70's and has the original cabinets in the kitchen, hall and bedrooms. They have a musty odor and when store laundry in hall closet or other closets, they come out smelling musty.  So check your cabinets. 

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A few things that come to mind (These are just random thoughts)

 

Could it be from the crawl space under your house?  Dampness, groundwater, decaying plant/animal matter?

Houses have a vent that runs out the roof to vent plumbing, maybe check to make sure all the lines that tie into this are secure and not leaking.

If you have an bathroom or sink you rarely use, make sure it has water in its P-trap to create a water layer which prevents sewer odors from coming through the pipe,  This water can evaporate over time in an unused drain.

Do you have any furniture that coud be emiting the odor?  A deteriorating couch? An antique chair that is filled with some unknown material?

Any septic systems near by?  Ground water contamination?  I wonder, if  you live in a swampy area around levies that are periodically opened/closed, could the height of the water table fluctuate and lead to intermittent odors.

Have you cleaned the garbage disposal? I have never had one stink, but I have friends who swear thiers do.  they clean them by grinding a sink of ice and salt with a big dose of dish soda,

Is the air vent for your dishwasher clean?  I had to scrub ours out after a nasty backflow.

Is the drain that your washing machine goes into clean?  What about the drain lines from your clothes washer. 

A pack rat nest can reek! And be inside a very small space.

Any animals defecating near by?

Old mattresses/pillows etc can be full of dead dust mites and start to smell very musty over time.

Keeping a house closed up too tight can lead to odors due to lack of fresh air.

Pets (especially older ones) can have smells that are musty.  The family may be so used to if that they don't notice.  Ferrets, dogs (especially in/out door dogs), old cats....

Books can smell musty and an full library can really make a house smell musty.

Check the cabinets under sinks to see if there was ever a leak.  Rotting wood can be hidden by shelf liner or new finishes. 

Check around windows to make sure you don't have a leak into the wall.  Our neighbor had a window fixed that was installed backwards and it caused a leak that was only detected by a moisture sensor. When they opened the wall, they found mold.

 

 

 

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Our new house (built in 2013) was having a smell issue. Dh couldn't smell it unless he had been away from the house for a awhile. It smelled like soured laundry. It turned out to be our central heat and air units. Google dirty sock syndrome. They replaced the coils and the odor is gone. It is becoming a common problem, and may be worth looking into.

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Who would you call to try and determine what the smell is, and where it's coming from?

My sons. Odds are good they've left something alive in a box somewhere with the intentions of finally, finally having a pet. The problem is that between our crazy hectic schedule and the need to keep it a secret from dad, the poor critter will expire... ('But he wasn't dead when when I caught him, daddy, honest!' or 'If you would let me have a pet rat then I wouldn't need the mole instead, see, Gil!')

 

Who can I call?

I usually call their maternal grandmother. It never takes her long to ask for the boys to come and stay with her the night and, on those types of days, it takes me even less time to agree to it.

 

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Wow - so many ideas. No deteriorating furniture. The drywall hasn't been replaced; all exterior was removed (wood), new insulation put in, drywall inspected for mold, etc., last year when we first noticed the smell.

 

I don't have a dishwasher, nor do I have a garbage disposal. We do have a septic system, but it drains really far from our house, and the entire thing was replaced 2 years ago.

 

No kids at home so the "pet" theory isn't a possibility either.

 

No pets inside. No old mattresses. The windows were installed last year when we ripped off all the old wood siding and had the aluminum siding installed; windows are all new and installed correctly so no leaks. Again, all Sheetrock was inspected for mold from the outside when insulation was done.

 

The washer just isn't possible. The smell has been here a year and a half. Our washer has been replaced during that time. There is no change in the smell on our clothing.

 

This is the problem. We have done a TON of work to this house. Nothing has fixed it.

 

We are going to call a plumber to check out the odor and see if it seems familiar to him.

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When we had a basement leak, the water removal company came by with this magic stick that sensed moisture in the floors and walls. Maybe one of those companies could help determine if you have a leak in a wall??

 

Do you have a sump pump? They can stink.

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I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts it's a plumbing issue behind your closet wall. Might be a teeny, tiny leek. Our neighbors have their water heater in a closet in their hallway. When you open the door to that closet, you get a musty, earthy, (think damp old crawlspace/musty basement) smell.

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I call my mother.   She has the nose of a bloodhound; actually bloodhounds WISH they had HER nose.  The olfactory center in her brain must take up 96% of her brain capacity....seriously.      
I've literally had her come over to sniff things out.  

But.....for a more practical suggestion.    My parents had this chronic stench in their home for months.   It smelled like methane.    Found out that their plumbing was missing some sort of "trap" and once this was fixed, the stench left them.

 

 

Good luck!

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