Every house has a smell. Smells come from the people who live there, their pets, and possibly the foods they cook. And most often these odours are harmless, but sometimes, they are unpleasant or even bad for your health.
You certainly wouldn’t want your guests to notice these smells before you do!
Household odours run the gamut from innocent and unpleasant, to noxious and harmful to your health and the health of others. Good habits like taking your garbage out regularly, banishing cigarette smokers outside, and not letting sweaty sports equipment pile up can help.
But indoor air can become particularly dry and stale when the temperatures fall and our homes are locked up tight to keep the cold air out. At these times, an air freshener doesn’t cut it.
Ensuring adequate ventilation systems can improve poor indoor air quality and keep humidity from building up in your home.
Here are some common household smells in your home and what you can do about it.
Pets and Other Animals
You love your pet, but he’s not always the cleanest!
Pet odours can be tough because they are constant and can become embedded in fibres. Sprinkling baking soda on furniture and carpeting, letting it sit for at least 10 minutes before vacuuming out can minimize odours.
If the smell is noxious and sickly, trust your instincts on this one! If something smells like a dead animal, it likely is one. You may have an insect nest or a deceased animal somewhere in your plumbing or duct system. Time to call a home comfort specialist for a precision drain cleaning or duct cleaning before this problem gets any worse.
Unless you’ve just brought home a fresh catch, the smell could come from burning electrical equipment. Electrical wires or other plastic components can emit a fish or urine smell when exposed to high heat.
Go around house check outlets. Look for electrical equipment that looks burnt or melting. Remove any plastics that are close to any heat source.
Musty, Dusty, Mouldy Smells
If you have any damp areas in your home, or water leaks and moisture build-up, these can all lead to musty smells and even worse, mould build-up. Surface mould can be easily cleaned up with a vinegar and water solution, but severe mould can be dangerously toxic and needs a more extensive fix.
You can control mould and humidity in your home with an adequate ventilation system. Air purifiers and other accessories can improve indoor air quality and keep humidity from building up in your home.
Rotten Egg Smell
A rotten egg smell could indicate a natural gas or propane leak and will need immediate attention. You will need to call your gas company for repair.
This smell could also come from a clogged P-trap in your drain. A P-trap that is working properly will contain trapped water to create an air-lock to prevent sewer gases coming up your drain. Sometimes it will dry up from lack of use and cause sewer gases and odours to release. Water should be run at least once a month to prevent this from happening.
Not all smells emanating from your kitchen are good ones! Everyone loves your Sunday chicken curry dish, but perhaps not the smell it leaves behind. And do you really want everyone to know that you’ve been frying bacon and onions?
Eliminating cooking smells can be as easy as turning on your stove’s overhead fan or opening a window. Though some chefs recommend sprinkling some salt over halved potatoes on a plate in your kitchen while you cook or lighting a scented candle.
Good kitchen habits, like washing all the dishes after each meal, and taking the garbage out promptly will help. If the garbage is not yet full, sprinkle some coffee grinds over to eliminate odour. If the garbage can itself smells, wash the container with warm water and vinegar, and sprinkle some baking soda in before putting the plastic liner in.
Make sure your bathroom exhaust fan is working to draw out moisture and odours from the bathroom. Having a spray bottle handy for emergencies is a great idea! Simply mix 2 cups of water with 1 tbsp. white vinegar, I tsp. baking soda, and 10 drops of essential oil.
Reducing Indoor Air Pollutants
Many indoor air quality problems can be resolved with proper ventilation. Enhancing your HVAC system with accessories like air ventilators, humidifiers and purification systems to ensure your indoor air is as fresh and clean as possible.
It’s also important to know that not all air pollutants come with a tell-tale scent. Carbon monoxide, a potentially-deadly gas, has no taste or smell. Every home in Ontario, no matter its size or age, must have a certified CO alarm to warn inhabitants of the presence of carbon monoxide.