Mystery odor

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Old 03-19-20, 03:56 PM
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Mystery odor

"Cleaning" forum about the only place I could think of to put this. Text from daughter, she and hubby are trying to figure out a mystery odor in their hall bathroom. Center of house, no window but does have a solatube. Fixtures are toilet, sink and Jacuzzi tub. Played 20 questions back and forth and I'm stumped. Suggested the obvious like dried up drain in the tub or something dead in cabinet or under tub. All seem to be negative. SIL relates that it smells like rotten onions (side note, he's pretty good in the kitchen so I assume he would know what they smell like). Surfed some Q&A sites for that specif smell, but mostly came up with kitchen stuff vice bathroom. Daughter says it's very hit and miss, sometimes it's gone within hours of appearing other times takes a few days. Kitchen is other side of wall behind bathtub, master bath shares back (wet) wall, and third wall is master bedroom. Just outside the bath door is the utility space for the AC. This is an all electric house, no gas.

Any and all ideas greatly accepted.
 
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Old 03-19-20, 04:06 PM
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The only suggestions I have would be to start tracking when it is apparent with regard to other activities in the house to see if a pattern emerges. Is there another bathroom in the house that they could 'abandon' this one and the master for a while? If not, I would at least only use one or the other for a while to see if that affects the odor.
 
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Old 03-20-20, 05:04 AM
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AFAIK this bath gets much less use than the master although the master is not huge so there is some overlapping use. Think I'll suggest they start a log and when it crops up they immediately jot down activities and conditions at the time it's noticeable and when it goes away.
 
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Old 03-20-20, 05:26 AM
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Just a shot in the dark...I would check, remove and replace any and all filters on exhaust fans, furnace, ect.... Also possibly any indoor plants. Maybe as springs comes around some plants may "wake-up" and produce a smell. Funny thing is, house air currents can be very deceiving. They originate in one area but manifest themselves perhaps several rooms away. When smell is evident, try turning off water supply to toilet and flush remaining water in bowl and tank away. Does that make a difference.
 
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Old 03-20-20, 05:30 AM
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Thanks Norm, will pass that along.
 
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Old 03-20-20, 05:31 AM
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If there is any thought that the smell could be coming from the jetted tub I would sanitize it. Those things are petri dishes as water sits in the piping. Fill the tub to it's jetted operating level. Then add a shock/sanitizing level of chlorine to the water and turn on the jets for 20 minutes. Occasionally turn on the air but don't leave the air on the whole time as that will get rid of some of the chlorine. You just want to make sure the chlorine solution gets into every nook and cranny.

If the house has a crawl space I would crawl underneath and give a smell and look for something dead. Even a constant odor source might not be smelled in the house. Varying winds or atmospheric pressure can suck air from the crawl space up into the house.
 
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Old 03-20-20, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by the_tow_guy
Kitchen is other side of wall behind bathtub,...AFAIK this bath gets much less use than the master although the master is not huge so there is some overlapping use.
Best guess- Iron bacteria farting hydrogen sulphide.

There is standing water in some portion of the house drains OR the basement sump pump/tile drains. If you have Iron bacteria (orange or black gunk in toilet tank) they will create a rotten egg smell as they eat iron and fart hydrogen sulfide (H2S). If the drain is shared by kitchen (grease) and hall bathroom (hair) you can easily get a partial blockage.

I'd start by filling the biggest pot available (e.g turkey fryer - crab boil pot) and then pouring that boiling water down the kitchen sink to melt any oily-greasy blockages - repeat once or twice.
 
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Old 03-20-20, 03:17 PM
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Florida house - slab, so no basement. Also city water. I'm familiar with the hydrogen sulfide issue at OUR house as we are on well and had that problem off and on for a long time. Finally got that fixed last year using a powered anode rod in the WH. The tub gets used pretty much never, but probably worth trouble to do the sanitize thing. I'll pass on the drain suggestions as well.
 
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