Help! My House Smells!

May 14, 2021

It is not hard to notice when your house has developed a smell. Some new smells are nice, like coffee being brewed or bread being baked. Other smells are not so nice, like pet accidents or spilled milk. Some smells, good or bad, can be confusing if you do not know where they are coming from. 

When you are faced with a lingering, unpleasant smell in your home, whether you think it might be spilled food that you have missed or that it is time for Septic Tank Pumping, what are your options? How do you know which smells should be a worry and which can be sorted out with a good clean? Learn more about the cause of the mystery odor in your home, and what you can do to get rid of it. 

Could That Smell Be Dangerous?

When you find an unexplained smell in your home, the first thing that you need to do is make sure that the smell is not going to cause immediate harm to your family’s health. Some lingering smells could be a sign of some serious health hazards and should not be overlooked. 

  • Signs Of A Gas Leak: Rotten Eggs Or Sulfur

If you notice the house smells like rotten eggs or sulfur in your home, then it could mean that you have a gas leak, especially if you notice the smell is strongest in the kitchen or near appliances that use gas. This could just mean that a burner valve has been left open a little way, or that a pilot light is out. If this is the cause, this could be an easy problem to put right yourself. 

However, if the source of the gas smell is not obvious to find, or if you can hear the sound of escaping gas, the safest thing to do is to leave your home immediately. Call your gas company from outside, using your mobile or the phone of a neighbor. Do not try to turn off any electrical outlets or appliances. Do not change your thermostat, use automated garage doors, smoke, or light matches. 

Top Tip

Propane gas naturally has no smell. However, gas companies add in an element called mercaptan, which is what gives gas that strong smell. This is added to protect consumers by making a gas leak much easier to notice. 

  • Signs Of An Electrical Fire: A Burning Or Fishy Smell

There are a few different reasons that you might be able to smell smoke in the house. If you cannot see a fire anyway, remember that there could still be one behind your outlets or in the wall. When electrical wiring begins to overheat, it can produce a smell of burning.

Check your outlets to see if any of them seem to be sparking. This is especially important if you notice that the smell is only noticeable when you use a particular appliance or outlet. If the burning smell is strong and you cannot find the reason, the best thing to do is to leave the house and call 911 once your family is outside. Do not go back into the house until the fire department tells you it is safe to go back in. 

Top Tip

Some electrical components give off a fishy smell when they are exposed to high temperatures. If you notice an unexplained fishy smell in the house, check your outlets and appliances, as you would for a burning smell. 

  • Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide does not have, but it is still very, very dangerous. Room heaters, fireplaces, faulty car engines, and some stoves have the potential to create this dangerous gas. You might not notice symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning before they become severe. These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to losing consciousness, and even death. 

The best way to keep yourself and your family safe from carbon monoxide is to fit a carbon monoxide detector in the house. These detectors can be bought at most hardware stores. You should have one fitted on every floor of the house. Check them regularly to make sure they are working according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

  • Other Lingering Smells

If you know the odor is not a sign of a dangerous problem, the next step is working out what is causing it. 

For example, paint and carpet can both hold onto smells from past spills even after they have been cleaned. A deep clean or replacing your carpets can help, as can a fresh coat of paint. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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