Sniff Out 4 Common Bad Smells in Your Home

Sniff Out 4 Common Bad Smells in Your Home

Something’s not quite right in your house. The air has a strange odor to it, and you can’t put your finger on the cause. Sifting a cup of baking soda onto a bed or a sofa and letting it settle isn’t doing anything to help. Here are four mystery odors you might be dealing with and how to correct them.

Rotten Egg

Image via Flickr by topdrawersausage

The stench of a rotten egg is unmistakable. But that lingering scent of decay might be hinting at something much more sinister. A rotten egg smell can usually be traced back to a natural gas leak or escaping sewer gas. Because gas is odorless in its natural state, utility companies inject a substance called methyl mercaptan into natural gas reservoirs, intentionally giving it that rotten egg smell to make gas leaks easier to detect. If you recognize this smell in your home, contact your utility company right away.


Is the air in your house overly musty? Mold and mildew might be to blame. Humidity and moisture are leading factors in mold formation. This seasonal issue tends to occur at the height of summer or during prolonged periods of rain. Frequent exposure to it can lead to allergies, toxin-mediated conditions, and even lung disease in vulnerable populations. Have your HVAC system serviced to make sure mold isn’t growing in the ducts.

A Fishy Smell

Once you’ve established the smell isn’t actually fish, the other most likely culprit for this odor is an overheating electrical component. Electrical breakers are made from a synthetic polymer that releases amines when burned. These scorched amine chemicals give off that distinctive fishy smell. Consult a licensed electrician and/or an inspector certified in infrared thermography.

Another reason for a fishy smell might simply be that your air conditioner’s return is located in a less-than-hygienic area, sucking in odors and recirculating them throughout your living space. In this case, contact an HVAC specialist.

An Odorless Killer

If you don’t smell anything out of the ordinary in your home yet you feel lightheaded, your head’s throbbing, and your stomach’s turning, there might indeed be something in the air. These are all symptoms of exposure to one of the deadliest and most undetectable substances around: carbon monoxide. It doesn’t have a scent yet can be absorbed by your body in minutes, leading to flu-like symptoms, severe illness, coma, or even death. That’s why purchasing a carbon monoxide detector is an investment of inestimable value.

Common sources of carbon monoxide include fireplaces, wood and gas stoves, and the exhausts of older cars and trucks. So be wary. Should you experience any of the above-mentioned signs, call the fire department and get to a hospital or doctor’s office right away.

Take steps to remedy these common household odors, some of which have potentially life-threatening effects. However, should you regularly smell something unpleasant everywhere you go, it’s possible you aren’t smelling anything at all. You might be affected by phantosmia, also known as olfactory hallucination.

Categories: Home Improvement

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