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Ghastly Smells at Home and What They Mean

If you smell anything out of the ordinary, like sulfur, rotten egg, or a dead critter, you should address it immediately.

Rotten Egg Smell

The smell of rotten eggs is never a good thing. Either you have been pranked by the local youth and you have actual rotting eggs around your house, or more likely, you have a gas leak.

The smell of rotten egg is indicative of a natural gas or propane leak. Gas producers are required to add a chemical called mercaptan to the gas in order to give it a distinctive smell. This is because natural gas, propane, and other gases are naturally colorless and odorless. You should immediately try to find the source of the leak and get it repaired immediately.

If the rotten egg smell is coming from a gas leak, learn how to locate and shut off the main gas in the case of an emergency.

Smells Coming from Electrical Equipment

Sometimes homeowners report the smell of burning plastic or rotten eggs near electrical equipment. If you smell anything funny near any of your electrical outlets or switches, turn off power to the outlet/switch and call your local electrician right away. You probably have a dangerous arcing situation that is causing overheating in your electrical housing.

Smells Coming from Drains or Water Heater

The smell could also be wafting up from your drains or water heater. If it’s coming from your drains, you may have a dried out P-trap that is causing “sewer gas” to rise up and cause an odorous problem.

The smell may also be coming from a sink’s overflow hole, which sometimes gets gunked up with slime. You can try flushing it with a mixture of water and vinegar. Click here to learn how to clean a stinky drain. Water in your P-trap blocks the sewer gases from rising into your home. In order to keep P-trap from drying out, you should remember to periodically run water down all of your drains.

If pouring water down your drains doesn’t solve your problem, you may need to clear your drains with a plastic wire hanger or drain snake. Call your local plumber immediately to get this addressed. It could indicate a larger problem with your sewer system which may involve replumbing.

If the smell comes from your water heater, it may be time to replace your heater’s sacrificial anode rod. Replace the sacrificial anode rod in your water heater every 5 years or so. Although you can try to do it yourself, we recommend calling a professional for the job.

  • Click here for more information on maintaining your water heater.
  • Click here for more plumbing maintenance tips for the holidays.

Never ignore the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs, regardless of where it is coming from. Call your local HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractor, since it could be just about anything (including actual rotten eggs).

Mold and Must

Mold can benign or toxic, and if it’s toxic, you could suffer from hallucinations and other hauntings. Carbon monoxide leaks also mess with your mind and make it seem as though your house is haunted. If you smell mold or must in the home, it’s important to find the source and get it cleaned up. Mold is unhealthy and indicates a larger moisture problem in the home.

  1. Getting Rid of the Mold: If your ventilation fans aren’t working in the bathroom or kitchen, it may be time to install or replace them. If it’s a small amount of mold, you can probably clean it up yourself, but if it has gotten out of control, for you and your family’s safety, you should call a mold remediation specialist.
  2. Look for Moisture: Once you get rid of the mold, you will need to address the moisture problems that created the mold in the first place. This will involve some form of improved waterproofing and ventilation. Mold and musty smells normally come from the bathroom, basement, or kitchen. Check these areas of the home first.
  3. Consider Installing a Humidification System: If you seem to have moisture problems throughout the home, consider installing a whole-home humidification system to control your home’s humidity levels. A humidification system will also help keep you more comfortable by using humidity to affect your body’s comfort and temperature. In the winter, nosebleeds, dry skin, and respiratory problems rise, in large part due to the dry winter air. In the summer, air can get very moist and contribute to your mold problem.

Click here to learn about Air Scrubber Plus, the best way to improve the quality of your indoor air. 

Rot and Decay

If there is an overwhelming odor of dead animal at home, that’s probably what it is. HVAC contractors should also be considered Animal Control Specialist with the amount of live and dead animals we find in condensers, ductwork, and indoor air handlers.

If you are hearing pitter patters and skittering in your ductwork or attic, you probably have a little critter companion. If you aren’t hearing anything, but smell their remains, it’s important to get rid of the bad smell before it starts causing health problems for your inhabitants. A clear sign that you have a dead animal in your ductwork is that whenever you turn on the HVAC system, the noxious smell gets worse.

Don’t be afraid to call your HVAC technician about dead animals in your HVAC system. We deal with it all the time, and it’s what makes our job a constant thrill.

Ward Off Energy-Sucking Demons

Energy-suckers and other energy demons are wreaking havoc on your home and energy bill. If you have been hearing strange sounds or noticing more cold spots than usual, you either need to call paranormal investigators, or save some money and call your local home service company.

Learn how to get rid of vampire energy-suckers and phantom energy losses with some fall and winter energy-saving tasks:

  • Stop ghosts and spirits from entering your home by sealing up air leaks and improving your basement and attic insulation.
  • Install low-flow plumbing fixtures to save water so you have plenty for witch-protection.
  • Vampire energy is a term to describe the energy that is sucked out of your outlets even when the plugged in the device is not in use.
  • Use energy-efficient lights and appliances, such as LED and ENERGY STAR, to get rid of scary electrical bills.
  • When you are not using your fireplace, make sure the flue is fully closed and sealed. This will prevent any monsters, bats, or witches from coming down your chimney.
  • Ward off evil spirits with a working landscape lighting system. You can use energy-efficient solar walkway lights and a combination of well, flood, and bullet lights to create an atmosphere that anyone would respect and leave alone.

For more energy-saving tips this fall and winter, read our other blogs on the topic:

We hope you have a safe and thrilling Halloween!

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