Live rats don't smell...
dead ones do.
We have a strong sweet smell coming out around the wall outlets and around the baseboard in the upstairs bathroom. The smell comes and goes and we can now smell it outside the housesometimes. It is not like the sewer smell coming from the vent stack. The plumbing is less than two years old and the smell started about 8 month ago. There is no sign of waterleakage on the downstairs celing or walls. We thought it was a dead rat or other animal at first. I set traps outside the house and caught 4 large rats (even though we live in a nice neighborhood). Could it be rat nests inthe floor space or wall space. We found rat damage in the laundry room near the bathroom. The washer drain hose and the water heater overflow tray had been chewed up. Do rats chew abs drain pipes? There is no smell coming from the shower trap or sink drains. The toilet is in a seperate room with no smell.
Live rats don't smell...
dead ones do.
(important note: I'm not a pro)
ohh, i love this question.
Some molds give off a slightly sweet smell at first. Your house is quite young. This would be my first hypothesis.
Stick a needle, a skewer, a shish kebab stick, into the wall at the baseboard: Does this increase the smell coming out? Is there any smell at switchplates and light switches?
Many glues smell sweet when rotting. Mold is a step in the rotting process. Do you know if they used Mastic (or ready-mixed thinset) to set tiles in your house? Mastic has organic matter in it; I have smelt it biodegrading sweetly. Did they use only Portland cement products for the tiles? There are other glues in the hosue too, including the glue under the baseboards.
Rats do smell, by the way. Experienced municipal hygiene inspectors can recognize the smell instantly. It is different from the smell mice leave behind. This is not a likely hypothesis in my opinion.
Since the smell is coming from baseboards, I do think it is moisture. Either a slow miniscule plumbing leak in the pipes or something in th edrainage system of your shower liner, or walls, or drain, or tub drain.
The smell comes out of the wall outlets on the wall opposite the shower. I punched a whole on the wall behind the shower wall and there was no smell. We sometimes notice the smell 30 feet away at the front of the house. The shower is not used very often but there is no smell from the trap. It seems to be strongest in the outside wall but there is no plumbing or drain lines in that wall. Also the smell comes and goes but there seems to be no correlation between using the shower, the toilet or sink.
They used portland cement products, with cement backerboard, heavy vinyl shower pan liner.
Last edited by mikeseattle; 07-05-2006 at 12:52 PM.
ok, good information Mike
i take back most of what i said above.
all i can say now is that something organic (not a carcass, not protein) is decomposing at a reasonably fast rate to produce that amount of smell and that type of smell.
What's on the other side of the wall with the smelly outlets?
I'd start focusing on that wall. Take off every electrical cover plate on each side of the wall and give each hole a good sniff to try to localize the source as narrowly as possible. You should be able to narrow it down, possibly to an individual stud cavity or 2. If you can do that, I'd say it's time for some exploratory surgery. You can remove a baseboard, cut holes in the drywall, and use a flashlight and mirror to see what you can see.
Do you have natural gas in the house? Propane?
I turned off the gas and checked to see if the smell continued. It did. All the gas pipes are on the other side of the house. I went into the crawl space and could not smell anything around the gas lines or around the drain pipes. It looks like cutting into the walls is my only option at this point.
Can you inspect the area immediately under that wall from the crawlspace? Be leery of any hole or crack or any other penetration open to the crawlspace. (They call 'em crawlspaces because of the critters that crawl (or slither) around in there.)
Is it a one-story house? If so, have a look at the top of the wall from the attic. While I was doing some work in my attic, I found a snakeskin shed by (presumably) a snake about 3' long. If something like that were to explore a hole left in the top plate by a plumber or electrician who changed his mind, and fall into the stud cavity, I'll bet he (or she) would smell pretty bad after a while. That conflicts with David's organic-stuff theory, though.
If these exercises turn up nothing, then you could a) start exploring, b) squirt some powerful deodorizer into all the outlet boxes, or c) wait and see if it all goes away when whatever is smelling dries up. (a) and (b) of course, rob you of the pleasure of finding out exactly what it was.
I you find it necessary to open the wall, cut the sheet rock as neatly as possible across the wall from the floor to about 2 or 3 feet above the floor. That will give you room to look, smell, feel, clean, or whatever. It will not be too big of a job to patch in a new piece of drywall. That much space may or may not be needed, but it's no more work to patch a 3' wide space than a 6" wide one. Keep use up on the progress, this is and interesting puzzle.
Thanks for the info so far. I am taking tomorrow off and cutting holes to explore. More information. It is a two story house and it doesn't smell downstairs under the bathroom or adjacent rooms. Wouldn't it have to be a lot of rotting material to smell outside the house 30 feet awayfrom the bathroom? ( but not inside on the 1st floor.)
Last edited by mikeseattle; 07-05-2006 at 03:53 PM.
Water doesn't just come from a leaky pipe........
It could be water (rain) thru a crack in the wall, roof, at the foundation/slab....anywhere. Just don't focus on "wet" walls.
You've got more balls than I do! I make the girlfriend cut or explore the first holes. Heh ... I am a wimp. I don't like bugs or dead (or some live) critters in my house. Let us know what you find.Originally Posted by mikeseattle
What could be smelling 30feet away could be another occurance of the same thing.
I was near a landfill many years ago, and it didn't stink, it had a very sweet (but not perfume or a pleasent) smell. I was surprised. Its after this fermenting (I think) stage that it will begin to rot and decompose.
outdoors too?Wow. This is worth fixing.notice the smell 30 feet away at the front of the house.
All i can add now, is to confirm that every post made so far is good advice, IMHO.
big square hole
and yes it may even be something organic that IS protein... regardless of my first impressions.