Odor

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Mya
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Q:

I asked a previous question about stink bugs because I thought that they might be what is causing the odor in my home but I dont think that was it. I bought my house a year ago and it had a funny odor which i attributed to the old carpets and it needed to be painted but I have since removed all of the old carpets, painted cleaned and still it have a funny odor I cannot pinpoint, any ideas? The house was built in the 50's if that matters.

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Answers

Odors can be quite tricky to find.  Some people can smell, some cannot. But as they say the nose knows. 

With older homes odors can come from a variety of things. And without knowing more about your home its difficult to say what exactly your odor is coming from.

Ductwork in the house in many cases causes odors if you have that type of heat. It can come from the dust that settles out overtime within them.  It can come from being pulled into the air stream where the return ducts are located if they are undersized or leaky. Or it can come from dirty AC coils if you have an AC system installed. 

The question I would have is where does this odor seem the worse, or does it appear to be about the same wherever you go in the home?

Another thing that can cause odors. Is if you have Steam heat.  As many of the older homes in CT appear to have.  Quite often contractors apply chemicals into the water system to help prevent banging pipes in an effort to clean the system.   These chemicals are supposed to be removed and flushed after a few cycles of the heat but often it is not done.  This leaves a sweet smell from evaporation every time the steam comes up during the heating season.

Still another smell can come from insulation used in the home.  Older spray foams used in wall cavities outgas and can cause all sorts of odors. 

Still other older insulation used a fish oil smell type of product in the manufacture of their fiberglass insulation. The result is if it gets damp from leaks it can create an odor as well.

The last thing that can produce odors are plastics. Vinyl runners, or shades purchased can outgas when they are exposed to heat. Such as the sun.  I had a strange odor in my office a few years back.  For the life of me I could not figure out what was causing it.  It only was present late in the day when the sun was starting to go down.  I noticed that the odor moved from one office room to another as the sun moved. The sun rays were hitting the plastic carpet runner I had placed on the carpet to protect it from dirty boots that oftentimes came into my place of business.  I moved them and the odor went away. I have heard the same thing can happen with plastic mini-blinds.  So if you have these and the odors appear on the sunny side of the home this may be your smell. 

If none of these pan out, try to pinpoint the room(s) that appear to be the worse, repost this information with as much info about the room, heat type time of day/night when the odor seems to be at its worse. With that info, perhaps I can provide you with additional ideas on what to look for.

If the odor is offensive you can get a inspection performed by a mold professional that would after a rule out of mold, can place what is called a Suma Can.  This device through a vacuum produced at the lab is placed within the suspect area and with a special tool attached pulls the air over a time period into the can.  Once its complete this cannister is sent to a lab for evaluation.  They read through a spectrometer the types of gasses present within the area in which the can was set.  Armed with what makes these smells the inspector then can return and look for items that produced this smell.

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