Fumes from loose outlet wall plates possible?

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Old 10-10-19, 08:12 PM
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Fumes from loose outlet wall plates possible?

Hi all,

My wife and I moved this summer to a prewar apartment in Brooklyn, NY. We changed out all the wall plates for the outlets, and all the light fixtures. Most if not all had been painted around (I believe they paint here every time a tenant moves out), so when we took the old ones off, a bit of paint came with them. Most of the new light fixtures and plates are at least flush with the wall/ceiling, though some are not. We definitely did not think to seal around the edges.

There's a horrible smell in here, and my wife being more sensitive/less healthy than me, she had to move back to her mother's house. The landlord offered to let us break the lease, but I was hoping to be able to fix the apartment. I've been back here by myself just over a month, going through the process of elimination, trying this and that. So far, nothing has worked, and we even spent $160 on some EPA certified water test, and $450 on a mold test from an assessor licensed with the city, and everything came back negative. I have to run an ozone machine every 4-5 days to be able to sleep here. Sometimes I just sleep in my car, and just use the apartment for food, shower, computer, etc.

Do you think it's possible that toxic fumes are coming through the wall plates and light fixtures? Have you ever experienced this? Other than paint, is there anything you suggest I use? Caulk? What about for a wall plate that doesn't even get flush, or a light fixture with an opening for a cable to hang down from the ceiling?

Soon as the wife finds a new place, we're moving. I've mostly given up on this place, but so long as I'm here so I can work and make money, I can't help but continue to try.
 
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Old 10-10-19, 10:45 PM
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Although it's possible to seal the device plates.... I severely doubt that will help much.

You've been in there several months. Was the smell there before you messed with the plates ?
What is the wall construction.... sheetrock.... old plaster ?
When built I'm sure it was plaster but may have been renovated.

A dead rodent in the wall can unleash a very potent smell.
 
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Old 10-11-19, 02:31 AM
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It's sheet rock. We moved in in mid-July, definitely no smell then. We're thinking maybe around mid-August, it had started slightly, then late August is when it got bad.

Someone else suggested a dead rat to me, but I'm pretty familiar with the smell of rotting flesh, and this is definitely something different. The closest I can describe the smell is paint, but not quite. Just some sort of very chemical-y smell.
 
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Old 10-11-19, 06:14 PM
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Try bringing several people in that haven't been in there before to identify the smell.
 
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Old 10-12-19, 05:37 AM
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Hi, how about a test for air quality, talk to someone and see if that would identify the problem.
Geo
 
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Old 10-12-19, 06:07 AM
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Is there any carpet in the apartment?
This is a common source of odors.
Cleaning can not remove 100% of what contaminates it.
 
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Old 10-12-19, 01:44 PM
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Do you have a central air conditioner or heating system? I had a dead-animal smell permeating from the vents for a while - turned out to be mold/mildew in the condensate pan and drain. Some bleach cleared that up.
 
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Old 10-29-19, 07:05 PM
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So sorry to everyone who took the time to reply! I didn't get any notifications after the 2nd reply. Turns out my sister lives close by and usually has a roommate but currently doesn't, so I'm just going to move in with her til the wife finds a place.

To address what others have posted:

Someone else said they thought it smelled like paint, and since some of the new light fixtures were smaller in diameter than the old ones, we had painted, so that was an additional reason why I thought maybe it was fumes from the ceiling.

The mold test involved two air samples, but only tested for mold, not formaldehyde or VOC's, though I think the mold technician had some meter that gave some sort of rough indication of those, and the meter read negative or very low levels.

We did have a few rugs/carpets here and there, but we're pretty sure the smell wasn't coming from them. There were one or two rugs we returned b/c of the smell simply upon opening them from the packaging.

We have window units for AC and steam radiators for heat.
 
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Old 10-30-19, 05:44 AM
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You are not living there so I would close all the doors and put a rag/towel to seal the bottom.

Leave it that way for a couple days.
Perhaps it will help you isolate at least which room the smell is coming from.
 
 

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