What’s That Smell in My House?


sunflower and blue skyWhat do you do if you sense that your household air is not up to snuff?

If you suspect that something in your home is making you sick you may need to engage the services of a professional home inspector.  A variety of parameters can be tested, some with simple instrumentation and others only through expensive laboratory procedures. There is no single magic machine that can test your home for every possible problem so doing a little safe detective work before calling an expert will save time and money and help you to reach an accurate diagnosis.

What the Nose Knows

You already own a sublimely sensitive instrument…your nose is a formidable investigative assistant with an astounding long-term memory. Have you ever re-visited a place after many years absence and noted that the familiar distinct smell of the place piques your memory? The unique smell of burning charcoal in Costa Rica, the aroma of fresh ground coffee in Paris, the acrid waft of steel wheels grinding trolley track in a city metro, these are some of the smells locked in my personal olfactory memory. Many people can smell an incredible one part per million or more. This talent, once a crucial survival tool for our hunter gatherer ancestors is now often dulled by the assaults of modern life. But it is a tool that can be cultivated to your advantage. Many, but not all, problems can be detected through their odor. Volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), some molds, some pesticides, dust and gas leaks all have distinct odors.

Using Common Scents

Upon first entering your home bring awareness to what you smell. If there is an offensive odor see if you can trace its source. For your own safety, do not linger there or start your own demolition. If you suspect a problem inside a wall, you could create a larger problem by breaking through the containment. Provide the area with plentiful fresh air until you can get an expert in.

If the first thing you smell is mothballs, potpourri, air fresheners, tobacco or scented laundry products, you may have already discovered the cause of your ill health. These substances contain a constellation of petrochemical toxins that are harmful when inhaled. They should be eliminated and you will be wasting your money if you call a consultant in while these things are present.  The house must then be well-aired and cleaned before any further nasal investigation can occur.

10/8/2018 12:54:50 AM

I have a horrible smell in my house it seems to come from the bathroom, yet the bathroom is clean toilet is clean sink is clean, some people can smell this smell others can not. I have called maintenance they don't smell it, Its driving me nuts and it makes me choke sometimes like there is a gas in the house. When I leave the house I don't smell it or have breathing issues but when I come home with in a half hour I am choking, I don't know what to do its a nightmare

10/8/2018 12:54:47 AM

I have a smell in my apt most people cant smell it but I can and my daughter can it drives me nuts it also makes me choke sometimes it feels like a gas in my lungs its absolutely horrible, Ive called maintenance and they don't smell it, I know the man next door ferments wine or beer Im wondering if that is the cause, but ive called a wine making place and they say that it wont smell, when I leave my home I don't smell it or have breathing issues, I come home and with in a half hour I am choking and can smell this crap on everything I own its horrible

3/14/2016 8:21:36 AM

I am trying to figure out what is making my house smell. there is a pungent fruity smell that fills my house, comes up from the vents from under the house and the smell about knocks me over when I walk inside the house. what could be causing such a strong fruity smell so I know what I'm dealing with

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