A Strange Bad Odor in House?????

Updated on October 01, 2008
V.B. asks from Plano, TX
13 answers

We have a new house about a year old now. All the house is not being used all the time like the upstair and part of the downstairs. Once in awhile I smell something that I can't put my finger on. It is a foul smell almost like something died in the walls. Our house is next to fields and had problems with mouse/rats. I have baits all around my house and understand that it could get in the walls. I guess I am wondering if this is the problem and not something else. I have asked my warrenty person about it but they say it is that I don't use the plumbing throughout the house????

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V.S.

answers from Odessa on

I would think if it is something to do with the plumbing, that once you flush and run water through those areas you would not smell it any longer.

If it is a dead rodent in the wall somewhere, the smell should eventually go away, and it shouldn't take a year. Can you pinpoint the smell down to one specific area?

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D.S.

answers from Dallas on

Also in Texas it's good to keep water in the pipes to prevent sewer bugs from getting into the house. They are those huge cockroaches that crawl up through the drains. Believe me, I know this from experience. I have a rental property, and it had been sitting awhile between showings. I met someone at the house to show it and I swear there was at least a couple of dozen in the bathtub (a lot of them dead) and throughout the house. It was humiliating.

Just be sure to run the water and flush the toilets to protect your pipes from smells and bugs. Best of luck!

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E.T.

answers from Dallas on

I had the same problem recently - It sounds like a dead mouse in your walls - I live in apartment complex and they said the only think you can do its let nature take its course and decompose and let the smell go away. It took 1month before the smell went away.

So - Bascially - they can knock a whole in the wall and get it out or it can rot and eventually it will go away.
They won't remove it if its an apartment so I was stuck with the aweful smell.

I went out and bought candles and lots of air fresherner.

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J.K.

answers from Lubbock on

Is there an opening that may allow an animal or rodent to get underneath your house? It doesn't take but a very small opening for something to get underneath your house. An animal/rodent may have gotten underneath your house but might not have been able to get out. Or maybe underneath the porch or steps of the house? This has happened before for us. Dead animal smell is usually not mistaken.

L.A.

answers from Dallas on

Maybe there is a water leak in the plumbing behind a wall somewhere and it is mildewy or moldy? This happened to a friend of mine.

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B.D.

answers from Dallas on

I can see how long-term stagnant water in pipes & toilets can cause a bad smell, but shouldn't you be able to just occasionally flush them or run the water through & that be enough to keep things fresh?

This is really terrible, but we had friends who smelled something awful in their new house, only to find out that the construction workers who built it had been using a large, 5 gallon paint bucket as a urinal. Apparently, when the dry wall went up, they enclosed it in the walls!

I wouldn't have believed their story except for the fact that when our house was being built we went to check the progress once & our master bedroom closet had a large styrofoam cup on a shelf filled with urine. Disgusting. They also filled our marble garden tub with food & trash which attracted ants. Even though we kept our bathroom spotless, we had ant problems around that tub for a good two years after moving in. My point is that some builders don't seem to care enough about the people who end up living in the houses they build!

If I had it to do over, I would have thrown a fit & had the builder come out & find the source of the smell before our warranty ran out. If we ever build again, I'll be at the site every day checking up on them. I'll also be sure to inspect before the walls go up.

In another home we had a bad smell like something dead & I never found the source. I was convinced it was a dead mouse behind the walls. The smell was terrible, but eventually it went away on it's own, so if you don't discover the exact source of your problem, don't despair, it won't last forever.
In the meantime, I used essential oils to purify the air & improve the smell of our kitchen.

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D.S.

answers from Dallas on

All the responses are definitely possible. (being a home inspector myself). I would lean toward sewer gases coming thru the traps if the tub, toilet or sinks are not being used (you can also dry out a shower cartridge if a shower is hardly used.) I am assuming its a slab foundation, so also check for dead rodents in the attic. After a few weeks, if it's a dead animal, the smell dissipates. Check for disconnected pvc vent stacks that run thru your attic (hence sewer gases) to the exterior. Look for water stains on walls near toilet and showers (possible water leak behind the sheetrock). A moldy smell if this is happening. Check your water meter dial for movement(usually a red triangle or black/silver dial on the face of the meter at the front curb area.) If it moves and you know all the water is off in the house, it's a possible leak. hmmmm..... D.

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S.W.

answers from Dallas on

If it's just an occasional smell, then I doubt it's something dead in the walls. I've had dead things in the walls and trust me, you'd know. It would get worse and worse until you couldn't stand it. Most likely, if you have bathrooms you're not using, it's probably smells coming up from the sewer in your unused drains. I suggest once a week or so, you run water down the drains - if you have clothes that need hand washing, do that in an unused sink. Or, take a bath or shower once a week in an unused bathroom. Flush unused toilets once a week or so, too. This will also prevent bugs from coming up the pipes too.

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T.W.

answers from McAllen on

I agree with some of the others, you should flush toilets and run water in tubs/sinks regularly. Stagnant water is horrible. If that's not it, you could have a leak or rodents. Hope you figure it out soon!

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V.S.

answers from Odessa on

I would think if it is something to do with the plumbing, that once you flush and run water through those areas you would not smell it any longer.

If it is a dead rodent in the wall somewhere, the smell should eventually go away, and it shouldn't take a year. Can you pinpoint the smell down to one specific area?

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S.W.

answers from Dallas on

I live in the country and have mouse poison out, and we do occasionally have a mouse die in the wall. It is terrible! It should go away in 5 to 7 days. If it lasts longer, it might be something else. The mice are supposed to go out of the house to look for water after eating the poison, but some of them apparently don't make it out. I have been told that there is poison available that makes them dry up and not stink, but I haven't seen it in the stores.

I know that sewer gas can come in through unused plumbing because the water in the drain traps evaporates, so you should run enough water through to keep the trap full. The trap is that little U-shaped pipe under the sink. Water catches in that and acts as a seal for the sewer smell.

Good luck!

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M.B.

answers from Dallas on

My dad said that at least once a week you need to make sure water has run through all your pipes. You don't have to worry about high traffic areas, just the ones that don't get used.

It's something about all the water evaporating in the traps and then letting in smells from the sewer.

Good luck!

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K.G.

answers from Dallas on

try weekly to flush the toilet and let the faucets run a little throughout the whole house. Also there could have been an animal stuck in the return vet or the ducts... see if someone /warranty people could come and check all the vets... maybe even a dead animal in the attic??

J.G.

answers from Abilene on

V.,
Wehave run into this before.Go to a web site
www.ecoquestuestintl.com/garrett check the air purifier, it isn't a filter machine.Good luck.And god Bless
J. G

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