Sump Pump or Dehumidifier burning rubber / skunk smell


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Old 02-23-16, 12:47 PM
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Sump Pump or Dehumidifier burning rubber / skunk smell

At 7am we were awoken by an overpowering skunk smell that took over the whole house - skunks are common in the neighborhood. The smell lingered for hours. Then at 9pm the same night, the smell came back strong again and when I looked in the basement, the smell seemed to be coming directly from the dehumidifier or the sump pump attached to it - but no smoke was coming out and there's a CO/Smoke detector directly above it. I put the dehumidifier outside in case it was about to catch on fire. Once the smell was clear, I ran the dehumidifier for a few hours and it was fine - no smell. Then I cleaned out the sump pump basin which had a layer of mold at the bottom. I refilled it with water and let the pump kick on which was only for about 10sec. I kept adding water to get it to run and it seemed to be working perfectly fine with no smell. I imagine it only kicks on a few times a day and only for 10sec at a time. I read that a burning smell is due to that toxic mold and it would make sense since the smell initiated 14hr apart from each other, but I can't see how 10sec would make all 3 floors of my house smell so overwhelming bad. So could it be the sump pump when it's only 6mo old?? Is this common? I'm afraid to put the dehumidifier back and risk an electrical fire.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 02:55 PM
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Mold smell typically does not suddenly come on strong so I wouldn't suspect it. And it sounds like both your dehumidifier and sump pump are working properly. Burning wires can also make a skunky smell so I would check your circuit panel and see if any breakers are tripped.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 04:51 PM
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The breakers are fine and are located across the room- the smell was definitely from the dehumidifier/sump pump. Now that the dehumidifier is up in the kitchen, it no longer seems to smell, although I'm not sure that signifies anything.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 04:58 PM
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Burning rubber... as from a pump motor.... does not usually smell like a skunk.
A burning motor usually smokes and has a very distinct varnish smell since that what the windings are covered in.

I would think the only way for the pump to cause an issue like that would be if it were frozen.... motor seized. What kind of pump is it.... submersible ..... pedestal ?
 
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Old 02-23-16, 05:33 PM
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Just tested the sump pump (self contained box) under the sink faucet to get it to run longer and it smells fine. So I'm back to suspecting the dehumidifier again. I don't see anything else around that could've been heating and the smell has not come back in 48hr since we unplugged both. Most importantly I need to confirm it was one of them, otherwise there's still a potential problem somewhere in the basement room. All other areas of the room don't smell as strong as where these units were.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 06:20 PM
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I'm baffled. I can't really see either causing that type of smell and keep on running normally. Is it possible that there was a skunk outside ?
 
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Old 02-24-16, 05:18 AM
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If so that would be a coincidence because when you go down to the basement- it still has the smell whereas the rest of the house is ok now. The smell is especially strongest where these units were running. As for a skunk getting in- that's possible but we had just gone through the process of closing off all holes and possible entries last summer when we suspecting opossums.
 
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Old 02-24-16, 06:38 AM
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Walk around the outside of your house, see if you can locate the smell on the outside, and if so, you had a skunk spray which can linger for days.
 
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Old 02-24-16, 06:58 AM
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No the outside parameter doesn't have any smell- never did even when the house smelled the worst. Three days later now and the only remnant of the smell is still where these units were- specifically this interior of the basement. There are no smells where the exterior facing walls are, where the breaker box is, Windows, etc. still a mystery what caused these fumes that could overtake the entire house twice in one day.
 
 

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