As hard as it is to believe sometimes, humans used to be a nature dwelling species, relying on their hunting skills to survive, just like other animals. We did retain some of those age-old instincts as a species, like our sense of smell for example. If something doesn’t smell right to you, there is probably a good reason, and you should trust that primal instinct.
If you sense a strange or unusual smell in your home, taking swift action can prevent a disaster sometimes. These are noteworthy home odors that every homeowner should be on high alert for, what they could mean, and how to solve the problem.
Gas is naturally odorless, so in order to make it detectable, the chemical mercaptan is added which creates the skunk-like odor we associate with gas. The fact that you can smell gas when you shouldn’t is a sure-fire sign you might have a gas leak somewhere. Gas is explosive and highly toxic; in fact, enough gas in the air could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you smell gas leave your home immediately and contact the gas company through a mobile phone, or a neighbor’s phone. Avoid using your own landline, turning on appliances, lights, or starting your car. This could cause a spark and may ignite a gas explosion.
A strong musty smell is usually a sign of a sink leak or a damaged pipe that has given rise to mold, which loves to grow in damp, dark spots. Mold holds danger especially to those suffering from asthma or severe allergies. Inhaling mold spores could potentially lead to lung infections and other health issues.
It is important to find the source of condensation. If it is a non-porous surface like tiles, disinfect with 10 percent bleach and water solution and let sit for ten minutes while ventilating. For porous surfaces like drywall, it’s best to replace them. If you’ve looked everywhere and can’t see the mold, it may be in the walls. In this case, you can contact your local health care department or a home inspector.
3. Smoke-like smell
If you start smelling excessive sewage odors coming from your bathroom, you might have a leak of sewer gas or sewerage buildup in your plumbing. A leak of sewer gas is dangerous as it contains toxic and potentially explosive components like hydrogen sulfide and methane, which could cause an array of problems from eye-irritation to loss of consciousness. The most common reason for this is a rarely used bathroom. If you have a guest toilet, for example, the water in the system may have dried up, allowing putrid gasses to pass through.
To fix the problem, simply pour a glass of water into the bathroom drain, says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors. To stop the water from evaporating again, you can add a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Alternatively, you could have an issue with sewage drainage, or clogging, in which case it is best to call a plumber.
5. Fishy smell
If you sense a fishy odor in your home but don’t remember cooking any seafood recently, it might mean that a certain electrical fixture, likely an appliance, in your home is overheating. The fishy smell comes from the melting plastic, rubber, or another material found around the afflicted appliance.
Try to identify where the smell is coming from. If it’s indeed an appliance, you can consult an expert to decide if it’s fixable or needs to be thrown out. If the smell comes from an outlet or a switch, it’s best to call an electrician.
If you notice a raunchy smell that reminds you of a wet dog, but you don’t own a dog, it’s a cause for concern. After all, nothing smells like our favorite furry friends than other furry creatures. Wet-dog smell could mean you have rodents, squirrels, or raccoons in your attic.
These critters typically crawl through the drafters in your roof and leave their droppings all around, which could pose major health risks according to the CDC. If you find feces in your attic, contact pest control to ensure safe removal.
7. Smell of old cigarettes
You’re probably well-aware of first and second-hand smoke and the terrible effect they have on our health. Newly emerging concerns point out the dangers of third-hand smoke, too. Third-hand smoke is tobacco particles which settled onto surfaces such as furniture, carpets, curtains, linen, and clothing. If you sense a faint smell of cigarettes in a vacation rental or a new home, it might mean it was previously occupied by smokers.
“We don’t know how significant thirdhand smoke exposure is, but kids are at greatest risk by rolling on the carpet, touching tables, then sticking their fingers in their mouths,” says David Dyjack, executive director of the National Environmental Health Association. He recommends thoroughly cleaning the house if you suspect thirdhand smoke.