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Cleveland HVAC Blog

Eeww, What’s That Smell?

Posted by Kim Nemecek on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 @ 03:21 PM

When you start to notice an unpleasant smell in your house, it can sometimes be hard to track down where it is coming from. That makes them tough to eliminate! Here are some common offenders that might help you narrow it down.

If you notice something that smells:

  • hvac equipment bad smellsMusty or Dank. Excess moisture in your home can allow mold or mildew to form. You will want to take care of any water leaks, hang damp items to dry, etc. to keep it from forming. Another source could be exposed earth in a crawlspace or basement. Sealing the crawlspace with plastic can help. You can also use a dehumidifier to keep your humidity levels below 55%, especially in humid months.
  • Stale air. Some homeowners have noticed a stale smell that was not constantly present. It actually turned out to be attic air being drawn down through their recessed lights. This type of light is notoriously leaky and can cause comfort issues for the room as well.
  • Rotten Eggs. A sulfur smell in your home could be coming from a couple of sources. Sulfur is added to natural gas because it is odorless. If you smell rotten eggs in your home you should call the gas company to make sure you don’t have a gas leak. Once that is ruled out, see if the smell is stronger near hot water. It could be caused by an anode rod in your hot water heater. This happens when an old tank is replaced with one with a different type of anode rod. The dynamics are kind of involved but the anode rod in the new heater is reacting with naturally occurring bacteria in the water.
  • Dirty Sock. This smell can be caused by an air conditioning coil that has aluminum fins. Your HVAC contractor can safely clean your coil for you.
  • Sewer. Sewer gas lives in your plumbing, which is why we have P-traps on every drain. The trap holds water, blocking the sewer gasses. If you don’t use a drain very often, the water can evaporate and allow the sewer gasses to get into your home. Make sure you run water down every drain in the house once a month or so.
  • Fishy. Strangely enough, this odor is usually coming from burnt wiring or something plastic that is melting. If you smell something fishy, check your outlets and light fixtures for overheating and make sure nothing plastic is too close to a heat source or light bulb.

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Paul WadsworthKim Nemecek works at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. After growing up in Cleveland, she lived in Florida for many years, working at an air conditioning company there. Kim has four grown children, two grandchildren and two spoiled dogs. She lives in Solon with her husband, Todd.

The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.

Topics: home comfort tips, dehumidifier, water heaters, hvac contractor

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