Tuesday, October 4, 2011

sometimes you need to hire a professional

First up, our neighbors had their third child yesterday--a boy to add to the fray! We're so happy for everyone, mom and son are healthy and we can't wait to meet the new kid on the block.

For several months now I get the occasional whiff--more of a "whaft" of something foul and rotten. I have an exceptionally sensitive nose, so I ignored it for a while. It wasn't until Mr. D began complaining that I became concerned. Initially there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the smell, but after further sniffing around, I determined it was definitely coming from upstairs, more precisely, somewhere around two bedrooms and in my library.

Now you and I both realize Team Testosterone's capacity for mess-making, forbidden snacking in restricted areas and inventive chemistry experiments (most notably one involving a test tube and samples of pee and what might happen if you added various foodstuffs to it and let it sit for a long, long time. At least it sits until Mom discovers it in the corner of the bedroom and dumps the works into the nearest toilet while doling out a lecture on Gross! Unhygienic! Smells! Freaking DISGUSTING!). Naturally I blamed the Team and did a thorough cleaning of every nook and cranny to find the cause. I came up with a huge load of random crappe to drag to the dumpster or the thrift shop and I found several missing items of clothing, but nothing smelled unusually bad.

The smell continued to linger, sometimes a faint scent like that of phlox brought across the yard on a summer breeze, sometimes an overpowering stench like a room full of sweaty seventh graders. I kept the windows open to ventilate after ruling out the possibility of the garbage dumpster beside the garage being the root of the odor.

I then ascertained that the smell seemed prevalent in carpeted rooms--the rooms with tile floor seemed fine. It occurred to me that when I cleaned the carpets this summer, perhaps I had inadvertently created the smell--had I used too much soap? Maybe I should've hired professionals to clean the rugs. I considered calling a cleaning service, but on a whim opened the closet containing the furnace upstairs (we have a small furnace, an auxiliary heat source to assist our radiant heating system). PHEW!

I'd already made an appointment for a guy to come check the thermostats before it gets super-cold and decided I'd consult with him first before hiring carpet cleaners. Yesterday he arrived, agreed that we need to replace 2 thermostats and then I opened the closet door for him.

"Dead mouse," he proclaimed after inhaling once.

"Can you do anything about it?" I prodded.

"Nope. You gotta call somebody who cleans ducts."

Now it makes sense--all that odor is getting vented through the ducts that coincidentally lead to rooms with carpet. Somewhere inside the duct work some varmint is decaying and decomposing. I unscrewed a few vent grills to poke around but found nothing. The verdict is in: I need professional help.

(And I'm secretly glad I didn't find the varmint when I unscrewed those grills.)

23 comments:

  1. We have a similar problem - random and unidentifiable strange smell. Ours is not dead animal, that I am quite familiar with. Ours is more of a mildew/dirt smell. But it is in the dining room where I simply cannot identify a source. Sigh.

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  2. We once had a mouse that climbed into the stove and got cooked. Talk about the worst.smell.ever. Needless to say, we bought a new stove.

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  3. I really don't like having a good sense of smell. In San Francisco I was always smelling mildew where no one else did. Hopefully, the smell is indeed only a mouse.

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  4. I once rented a house that had a dead thing in the walls of the garage--gaaah! --the smell was gruesome. On the other hand, when we cleaned out my Mom's garage we found TWO little rat skeletons--it is so blasted hot in my area that [thank goodness] they had died and dried without a long interim decomposition time. That carrion aroma is unforgettable. Good thing the corpse is in the duct where he can get it!

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  5. I'm so glad I've never had a dead thing in the house. We had a dead possum under the deck once.

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  6. I love the smell of dead animal in the ductwork. Smells like victory (or perhaps something just horrifying).

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  7. You poked around in the vents!!! Crazy woman.

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  8. we had a dead varmint in the wall of our house when i was a kid. my dad like to never got rid of that smell.

    yuk!

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  9. We had something die in our inaccessible attic once, and then came the flies. The flies were much worse than the scent. Definitely worth the professionals.

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  10. I've smelled that smell before....peeeewwwweeeee

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  11. "...a test tube and samples of pee and what might happen if you added various foodstuffs to it and let it sit..."
    I can't decide if this is just very disturbing or excellent scientific curiosity. Maybe this tendency needs to be channeled. Get your boys to write grant and get some funding.

    I am utterly impressed that you opened the vents to look for The Creature. Even if it was dead.

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  12. Yuck.

    We have a stink down in the Man Cave. HE says it's related to the soccer gear he dumped down there; I think otherwise. Which one of us will be proven right? Only time will tell.

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  13. Yikes! At least you found out what it was though. You'd have gone crazy not knowing. Good luck!

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  14. ewwww, somebody's gotta do it!~~~I sure would call a pro too. Nothing more discusting, well, besides teenage sweaty, smelly feet after a day of playing on the football field. Just about as bad.
    As for your fun weekend....love, Loved, LOVED it! Cute dudes and dudette.
    BlessYourHearts

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  15. I've had that in a wall before. Once you smell it you KNOW what it is the next time.

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  16. Yep I can relate to that we have had a problem from time to time with a dead mouse once hubby had to get up in the ceiling to search for it better him then me.

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  17. I KNEW it was going to be dead mouse. The happy ending to this story is that someone else needs to deal with it. I was getting all ready to shiver and shriek when you found it, so wwwwhhhhew.

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  18. I'll have to pass this along to my friend, she's pretty sure something died in her basement and her husband doesn't believe her. BTW, if you need the name of a good duct cleaner, let me know. I was just shopping around for one and got someone who seems pretty capable.

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  19. This happened in my car!!! My husband blamed the smell on my messy habits until we got in, turned the AC on full blast and got a face full of stink. I must have gone over a big bump or something to knock it loose because it left as suddenly as it appeared.

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  20. That urine experiment is hilarious! But totally disgusting. :)

    A few years ago we had a 'smell'. Come to find out my husband smelled it and thought it was me!! He didn't mention it because he didn't want to hurt my feelings. I am beyond words about that one--still. It was a dead mouse also.

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  21. Wow, I'm glad it never occurred to my kids to fill test tubes with pee.
    I'm sorry about the dead mouse. I hate that smell! We once had that smell, mysteriously in the doorway between the front hall and the computer room, where it's all bare wood and nowhere for something dirty to hide. It turns out there was a dead rat in the basement ceiling joists. My husband actually vomited when he discovered it.

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  22. Yuck. We had a squirrel die in a teensy recess of the heater located above the girls' room in Old House a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the Professional could not make a same day visit for removal. That night, a slumber party's worth of tween girls were all introduced to the scent of Eau de Decaying Rodent. Lovely.

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  23. Hey there! Just a quick note to let you know I linked this post over at Kate's Library in my "Friday Five". Have a great weekend! (A little late - I was behind!)

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Spill it, reader.