Pungent smell from the electrical outlet/kitchen

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New Member
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New York
Hello, I've been having this odor issue that has been driving me crazy which seem to be getting worse by the day and hoping to see if anyone might have some ideas on why..
I live in CA in a 5 stories apartment complex. For months, there have been this faint foul odor always trapped in the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink. Since the smell was minimal and centralized in the cabinet didn't bother me too much.
For the past several weeks, the smell was getting much severe that it can be noticed the moment I walk into the apartment. The maintenance came out and inspected the cabinet, pipes, dishwasher, took apart the garbage disposal, lifted up the cupboards and drawers of the cabinets and noticed no leakage or mold/mildew. However, luckily one of the maintenance guy noticed that the odor was traveling through the crevices of the electric outlet. He immediately sealed off with some caulking and the odor seemed to slowly disappear. However, few hours later I noticed the odor more stronger than ever before and traced the source of the odor to electrical outlets above the kitchen sink (there are three total - one near the electric stove, one above the dishwasher and one next to the kitchen sink + the original one inside the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink).
Thinking that now I know exactly where the odor is trapped (between the kitchen wall), maintenance came out once again with the electrician to inspect the wirings and found NOTHING. They've inspected the unit above and below mine and told me that there are no odors coming out from their outlets. However, they were suspecting that next door neighbor might be smoking (cigarettes and marijuana) but it turned out to be not true.
And all of sudden, starting two night ago the smell is now combined with a more pungent (sewer like smell) on top of the original smoke (which smelled more like a gas/smoke?).
At this point, the maintenance is clueless to the source and keeps on insisting that the next door neighbor is smoking... (I know this is not true as there are occasional cigarette smell traveling when one of the neighboring units tried to sneak a puff in their units and this is certainly not it).
The building is only 2+ years old, so very new and clean and located in middle of a populated city area.
Any ideas on what this could be originating from?
Any help would be greatly appreciated!


In the Trades
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"At this point, the maintenance is clueless to the source and keeps on insisting that the next door neighbor is smoking... "

The odor has to be identified to determine the course of action.

BTW, if maintenance does nothing, you have the right to break the lease without a penalty, if you can prove your case (meaning, getting a couple of statements from independent contractors). Document every piece of communication with the manager, and then tell them, in writing, that if the odor issue is not resolved you will be forced to move.

Remember, you must obtain professional opinions in writing.


Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx
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New England
Overheated electrical devices tend to have a very specific (and nasty) smell. You might want to pull the cover off, then pull the receptacles out and look carefully at the wiring for signs of excessive heat.
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