Sudden, odd smell throughout house...

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Old 02-26-15, 01:38 AM
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Sudden, odd smell throughout house...

Last night, our power flickered a few times (we got dumped on with about 6" of snow). Sometime after that (we're not sure how much time elapsed), my wife had gotten up because she smelled an odor. She got me up and we are both smelling an odor that we can't really describe 100% accurately.

The smell is something like a burnt toast smell, but not quite. It doesn't smell electrical to either of us. It's strong in the dining room/living room, and also in the bonus room above the garage. The bonus room is at the opposite ends of the house as the dining room and "inline" with each other (i.e. they both face the front of the house). We have two small bedrooms downstairs and we do not smell the odor in those rooms either. We initially smelled it in the master bedroom (all bedrooms are downstairs).

We do not smell it coming out of the heating vents. We went outside and smelled around the HVAC (which has a gas pack). We didn't smell anything there. The unit wasn't running at the time, so we kicked up the heat to turn it on. We smelled some slight odor then, but I think anytime it first kicks on, you smell a little something (especially from the blower vent). Also, should the big fan on top of this unit run when the heat is on? I think that big fan only runs when the AC is on, but wanted to confirm (I think the squirrel cage inside the unit is what pushes the heat out). We did knock all of the snow off the top of the unit.

We poked our heads under the house and didn't see anything unusual or smell anything unusual.

CO2 is odorles, plus we have CO2 detectors in the bonus, hall, and master bedroom. Pretty sure it's not that.

Any ideas what could cause this sudden smell? It definitely wasn't there when we went to bed last night (about 5 hours ago).

Thanks,

Andy
 
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Old 02-26-15, 02:18 AM
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I don't have a clue to the smell but I assure you that you do NOT have CO[SUB]2[/SUB] detectors in your house. CO[SUB]2[/SUB] is carbon dioxide. What you have are CO detectors, carbon monoxide.
 
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Old 02-26-15, 07:49 AM
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Is the furnace gas or oil fired? Have you checked the exhaust system?
 
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Old 02-26-15, 08:00 AM
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Furd, I stand corrected. We have carbon MONOXIDE detectors. lol

Grady, it's gas (gas packs to be exact). We had actually gone outside (at 4:30am! lol) and looked around the HVAC and also looked in the crawl space. Didn't see any thing odd or smell anything (except a slight smell when the unit was running, which I thing is how it's always been).

The odd thing is, when we got up this morning, the smell was gone. Not sure what it was. First time that's ever happened.
 
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Old 02-26-15, 08:07 AM
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Is this a Heat Pump system?
Geo
 
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Old 02-26-15, 08:38 AM
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GeoChurchi, it's not a heat pump.
 
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Old 02-26-15, 10:49 AM
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It sounds like you have a natural gas fired packaged unit outside. That's where everything is self contained and the unit is connected with ductwork to the house.

Typically if it's gas fired it's not a heatpump. That would mean the condensor fan should not be running in the winter...... only the internal blower unit.
 
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Old 02-26-15, 11:37 AM
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That's exactly the setup we have PJMax. Still perplexed by that sudden smell, but it it still hasn't returned. We may never know where that smell came from.
 
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Old 02-26-15, 11:55 AM
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There are many things associated with the electrical power that can get upset when the power flickers. On the electronic side, electrolytic capacitors produce a smell when they fail, but usually the related circuit fails as well. Unfortunately, once the smell is gone all you can do is wait and see if the source reveals itself. Check any appliances or electronics not often used.

Bud
 
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Old 02-26-15, 12:21 PM
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Bud gave you some great advice. Check the electronic things you don't normally use but that are plugged in. Almost everything has a transformer in to convert 120v to whatever it takes to operate and they can internally short. They have a very distinct smell when they heat up. Almost like a hot varnish smell.

Usually after they short.... they're dead so you may eventually find something that had died.
(check the doorbell too)
 
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Old 02-27-15, 06:13 PM
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That is one thing we did that morning. We smelled around the microwave and toaster but it wasn't really strong around those appliances. It hasn't returned since. Guess all we can do is wait for it to come back (which hopefully it won't )

Thanks for all the replies and suggestions.

Andy
 
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