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Mystery Odor

NateHowie's picture

So, we are 2 months into our new home, which is 20 years old.  We noticed that the two bedrooms on the east side of the house smell like dirty clothes.  Sort of musty, but not a mold smell.  Not a dead mouse stinch.  It smells like dirty stinky clothes.  Come to find out, you can smell it from the interior outlets of the exterior walls.  None of the interior wall outlets smell, just the ones on the exterior wall (east wall).  The house has had a mouse problemo in the past and we had thought that maybe, perhaps, it had sometihng to do wiwth that, but I'm not sold on it yet.  Any thoughts? 


The house was built in 95.  VInyl siding, polyiso foil faced sheathing, fiberglass insulation, crawl space.  Stumped.


Nathan

Nathan (post #211854, reply #1 of 13)

does the wiring come up to the outlet from the crawl?

any grade problems from that side of house?

prevailing winds from which direction?

whole house fan at that end of house?

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

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My guess is that the inside (post #211854, reply #2 of 13)

My guess is that the inside of that wall is wet for some reason.

(It would help to know where you live.)


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Dan's probably on the right (post #211854, reply #3 of 13)

Dan's probably on the right track. Could be mildew feeding on backside of paper faced drywall as a result of warm, moist air leaking in around outletsand condensing when meeting up with cool conditioned air from inside your house. I would use a humidistat inside of outlets to check R.H. If it reads above 70% in that microclimate, then you may want to cut out some drywall around drywall to visibly check for mildew. If that's your problem, then you probably have an air sealing and insulation issue to deal with.

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helps to tell where ya (post #211854, reply #4 of 13)

helps to tell where ya at?

house have LP siding (Louisiana Pacific)?

or polybutylene piping? 

that spell ROT ... not good

Thanks.  The wiring does not (post #211854, reply #5 of 13)

Thanks.  The wiring does not come up through the crawl.  The crawl is cinder block.  The grade outside was an issue before, but is now being fixed.  The smell is kind of fragrant, yet sour, yet stinky.  It's really weird.  Whole house fan?  No.

It is possible that what (post #211854, reply #6 of 13)

It is possible that what you're smelling is "Chinese drywall" or something similar.

Could be, if there is any plumbing along that wall, a plumbing vent in the wall that is leaking odors into the wall space.

But more likely it's moisture-based.

The question is where is the moisture coming from --

Could be rainwater entering along window trim, etc.

Could be a roof leak near the gable end.

Could be condensation occuring in summer months as moist outside air (entering through crawl or through gaps in outside sheathing) condenses on the back of the drywall.

Could be, again, a plumbing leak of some sort.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

...or possibly "Chinese (post #211854, reply #7 of 13)

...or possibly "Chinese takeout" left in the wall cavity by one of the laborers. Or maybe they were just making drywall over there using leftover sweet and sour pork.

Over a year has past since (post #211854, reply #8 of 13)

Over a year has past since this post.  Here's an update.  I was installing network cable in an interior wall of the home, which had insulation probably for sound deadening.  When I cut the cable box hole in the drywall, I smelled the same smell that I have been getting in the exterior walls.  Weird.  I pulled a bit of the insulation out of that interior wall and it smelled just like what we have been smelling.  It was a weird smell, not pleasant.  Kind of sweet/sour and light dirty underwear (not mine, of course ;-) ). 

Is it normal for pink batt insulation to have a unpleasant odor like this?  It was not moldy or anything like that.  Looked like normal pink insulation.

Also, I wonder if my house is under negative pressure, which is pulling in the odor from the exterior wall insulation as well through the outlets?  Just a thought.

I have noticed an odor sorta (post #211854, reply #9 of 13)

I have noticed an odor sorta like what you describe in rock wool, but that's not easily confused with fiberglass, and generally would only be found in homes older than maybe 40-50 years.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(You never did say where this (post #211854, reply #10 of 13)

(You never did say where this house is located.  Climate is a major consideration when trying to figure out such things.)


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Sorry.  Central Illinois.  (post #211854, reply #11 of 13)

Sorry.  Central Illinois. 

Climent can have a major (post #211854, reply #12 of 13)

Climent can have a major impact. I remeber a very similar smell in my 60 year old house in New England.

 

Barry's big as,d ad was removed.

it was for a demo shute he invented and sells.  downside, Barry don't pay for the pleasure.  If he had come here, posted in a thread about what you gonna do with the debris now that you got a pile on the floor.........

Maybe the ad or at least the info would have remained.

You're not earning a lot of (post #211854, reply #13 of 13)

You're not earning a lot of fans by spamming.  You appear to have a product some folks here might be interested in, so instead of spamming why not open a new thread in the "Tools for Home Building" section to describe it and solicit questions?


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville