Where on earth is this smell coming from?


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Old 10-09-09, 08:24 AM
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Where on earth is this smell coming from?

If this is in the wrong forum, please move it. Not sure where to put it.

I purchased a 50 year old colonial and there is this foul odor in specific locations. The smell is a cross between natural gas, methane and sewer smellÖbut it ISNíT pungent. Itís more passive and dullÖ(excuse the example) almost like walking by an open bathroom after itís been used. The house uses oil for heat and has a septic system. The smells are located on the south wall of the kitchen and the south wall of the dining room. Both of these walls face the South-West. The kitchen is on the foundation with the 2nd floor above it. The dining room, which was an addition, is on a slab with an attic above it. The dining room has no plumbing pipes in it and the smell isnít really noticeable around the pipes in the kitchen.

The house wasnít maintained very well by the previous owners, which led to an infestation of mice. There were droppings EVERYWHERE. Iíve cleaned up as much as I have access to. Iíve been reading that dead mice smell terrible for a few weeks but the smell I currently experience isnít horrendous. So I donít know if this is the problem. Is it possible their urine soaked the wood and thatís what is causing the smell?

I just donít know what that smell could possibly be. I donít even know what expert I could call to help me with the problem. Any suggestions? Iím at the point where Iím willing to start ripping up sheetrock to find out whatís in the wall. Does any type of wood, sheetrock, insulation, etc. give off this type of smell?
 
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Old 10-09-09, 08:38 AM
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Did the previous owners have cats? Cat smell is impossible to remove. If not, it still could be dead mice. Also, look for opened vents where an animal could have gotten stuck & died.

Before you start opening walls, call an exterminator. Get his opinion.
 
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Old 10-09-09, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Pulpo View Post
Did the previous owners have cats? Cat smell is impossible to remove. If not, it still could be dead mice. Also, look for opened vents where an animal could have gotten stuck & died.

Before you start opening walls, call an exterminator. Get his opinion.
Yes, they did have one cat.

What does 'cat smell' even smell like?

The insulation in the attic is covered with mouse droppings...I was going to remove it all, clean the droppings and install new insulation. I'll inspect the attic more in-depth then.
 
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Old 10-09-09, 08:55 AM
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Wear a good mask when you remove that insulation. It's hard to explain the cat smell. If the previous owners were that bad, I'm sure that there are places where you can see the damage done by cat urine.
 
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Old 10-09-09, 10:15 AM
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Just wanted to comment that I doubt if there were cats in the house, if there was a lot of mouse droppings.
I've had cats in the past, and whenever I did, there was never a mouse around.
 
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Old 10-09-09, 11:23 AM
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The original poster said that the previous owner had a cat. Why do you doubt it? Just becuase you didn't see any mice, doesn't mean that they didn't exist.
 
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Old 10-09-09, 11:50 AM
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Gimme a break, one cat wouldn't leave a house smelling that bad. If the owners were slobs, who knows what they did or left behind. I've had all kinds of pets, even old, sick ones, and my house never smelled bad!
It's easy to spot if there are mice or not, and when I've had cats, there weren't any.
 
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Old 10-09-09, 12:20 PM
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I physically pet the cat 4 months ago when we first saw the home previous to purchasing it.

Since purchasing the home, I've seen the mouse numerous times, destroyed 6 mouse nests and even found living babies. I haven't seen or heard from a mouse in about a week.

Cat was probably just damn lazy.
 
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Old 10-10-09, 06:39 AM
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Don't tell me one cat can't pee enough to smell that bad. Once it gets in the wood, it's there forever. I don't understand pet owners. Ive seen pet owners with asthma & they won't get rid of the pet.

It also could be a combination of the two. No one thought of that.
 
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Old 10-10-09, 08:38 AM
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Could it be something dead in the walls or ceiling?
 
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Old 10-10-09, 09:26 AM
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Iis there pluming in the area? Could be an air leak from a waste vent.
 
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Old 10-10-09, 12:58 PM
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Once it gets in the wood, it's there forever
but the smell goes away, and I speak for myself here, altho I'm sure I'm not the only one. Before my previous dog died (and she was a big dog), she was sick for several months and would leak every night (she laid at the foot of my bed). After she died, I pulled up the rug which was soaked, and it had gone thru to the hardwood floor which had actually warped. I cleaned it really well and aired it out and it doesn't smell at all and I haven't replaced the damaged wood yet.

I don't understand pet owners. Ive seen pet owners with asthma & they won't get rid of the pet.
That's because we love them. I don't understand people who don't understand that.
 
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Old 10-10-09, 02:02 PM
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You can't compare a dog to a cat with regards to urine. Cat smell never leaves unless you gut the place & even then it's not guaranteed.
 
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Old 10-11-09, 08:46 PM
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Lets please try to keep this topic to helpful information

Yes cat urine can be hard to track down and elimnate. But lets focus on what the problem is.....

There were/are mice. Have an exterminator come over and go from there. Dead mice smell bad for a few days or week then i do believe the smell goes away.

Remove/replace any effected areas. Chances are the insulation isnt up to code anyway. Remove/inspect/replace.

If there are water or plumbing leaks they should present themselves or just call a plumber.

All the walls and subfloors are going to need sealed with a shellac prior to floor covering installation or painting. If the plaster or drywall has been damaged by cat urine it may need removed and replaced. If its a warm air forced heated system duct work may need cleaned.

With all this being said... You are in for a good sized project..both work wise and money wise. Cat urine or just plain the property being let go...unless you take major steps in repairing or addressing the issues..your problem will not go away.

having a air quaility inspection may also shed light on what odors are in the air. If the sale was as is...then you have little recourse. If you were not aware of the condition or the previous owners didnt disclose any problems that you may find...in SOME cases...they may be responsible for some of the expense. But in most states once the final walk thru is done unless its in writing then theres no recourse.
 
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Old 10-12-09, 07:17 AM
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There was a cat too. You can't eliminate that as a possibility & say it's out of focus! I don't understand that at all.
 
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Old 10-12-09, 09:08 PM
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My suggestion of sealing the subfloors and walls is in a direct response to the cat urine. I am locking this thread so we may focus our efforts on other topics.
 
 

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