Or schedule an appointment online

What’s THAT Smell? 5 Smells in Your Home That Could Be Dangerous

There’s only so many times we can blame the dog for bad smells in our home. 

In all seriousness, if you’re smelling something out of the ordinary in your home, especially on a consistent basis, your nose can be the best detector of a larger problem at hand.  If you literally sense something is off, use your “common scents” (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves with that obvious pun) to get to the source of the problem to prevent a hazardous situation in your home before it happens.  

Below are 5 dangerous smells that may need further examination if discovered:

Rotten Eggs

A rotten egg smell can be an indicator of a natural gas leak.  In its normal state, natural gas is actually odorless, but for our safety utility companies add a compound called mercaptan, giving it that rotten egg smell.  This allows homeowners to more easily discover a gas leak, rather than the problem going unnoticed. 

If a gas leak has been going on for a while, something as insignificant as lighting a match, turning on lights, or cooking on the stove can result in a fire.  So if you do smell rotten eggs, it’s a good idea to get out of your house, and make a call to your gas company immediately.

Smelly Socks or Unwashed Gym Clothes

If you’re smelling sweaty socks or unwashed gym clothes, and your teenager hasn’t just gotten home from basketball practice, this smell may be a sign of mold or mildew lurking in your home.  Especially if this smell gets stronger in places where there is water usage, like your bathroom or kitchen, or perhaps in your basement, mold and mildew could be the culprit due to a leak or flooding.  

In addition, you may be looking at possible bacteria growth in your home due to condensation, specifically during spring and fall months when the temperatures are changing and more moisture is in the air creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.  If that’s the case, it may be good idea to call an HVAC or Indoor Air Quality expert and inquire about a whole-home air purifier to kill bacteria (we recommend Reme Halo, as it kills 99.9% of bacteria and germs) or a dehumidifier to remove moisture from your home to prevent bacteria growth.

Dirty Wet Dog Smell

If you’ve given Sparky a bath and are still smelling a dirty, wet dog smell (or more alarmingly, if you don’t even have a dog), this odor can be the result of rodents, squirrels, and other fun critters using your attic, walls, and ducts as their own personal bathroom.

In particular, if this smell turns rancid, it could be a dead animal trapped in your walls or ductwork.  Unfortunately, while cleaning ducts, we’ve come across this issue a time or two.  If you are smelling this unpleasant odor, you should definitely call an exterminator right away to kick these disease-ridden critters out of your home once and for all!

Smoky or Fishy Smell

If fish isn’t part of your dinner plans, this fish smell or a smoky smell can be alarming because it could be an electrical problem, due to an appliance overheating. The fish smell is actually often a result of rubber, plastic, or another material melting due to an overheating issue, in which a worst-case scenario might be a house fire.  If you are smelling this, call an appliance repair expert to take a look right away.

In addition, smoky smells can indicate your wiring needs to be repaired by an electrician.  Especially if you’re noticing burn marks around an outlet or sparking when trying to plug something in, you should turn off your circuit breaker and call an electrician (like us!) to examine it more closely. 

Unpleasant Bathroom Odor

If you smell a pungent bathroom odor, the answer could be obvious: A sewage back-up in your plumbing system, which can be dangerous due to a build up of methane, a flammable substance.  

Another possibility is a sewer gas leak due to a sink, shower, or bathtub not being used very often.  Typically pipes under a shower or sink hold some water that blocks gas from leaking back into the house.  If the bathroom isn’t used, this water evaporates, allowing that gas to break through into the home.  A simple fix to this problem is running water in your bathroom with a teaspoon of vegetable oil to prevent complete evaporation and create a barrier to protect you from a gas leak.  

Smelly Summary

Besides these home smells being unpleasant, they could be a symptom of a dangerous problem.  A good rule of thumb if you are continuously smelling something out of the ordinary in your home:  When in doubt, sniff it out, and call a professional.  Have you been “scentsing” (again, we can’t resist a pun) something may be off in your home?  Leave a question in the comments below for input from one of our Home Comfort experts!

Our Blog