Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Name That Odor

So two Saturdays ago, we started smelling a weird smell coming from the girls' new bathroom as we were moving stuff in. Then it got worse, and by Monday it was awful.

We called the builder, and he sent a plumbing guy over. The plumbing guy inspected all drains, and assured us it was not sewer gas we were smelling, despite the assertions of the builder to that effect. The plumber suggested it could be a dead animal in the wall, to which my husband, his brother, the builder, and even a new neighbor all firmly said, "No way that is a dead animal smell." Please note their unanimous certainty in this matter.

So then Chad drilled several 2" holes in the wall behind the bathtub/inside the linen closet to try to see inside. The builder ended up helping him cut around the holes to take out a 2 ft. rectangular portion of the wall. All we got from this was a big pile of shredded wall board and insulation on the floor of the linen closet - still no source of the stench. And as of Thursday, 6 days into this problem, the smell wasn't showing any signs of fading at all, unlike the reassurance of most that "dead smell usually go away in a few days."

Here's a little visual aid for you... the fan is blowing into the hole in the wall...

I should state at this point that we set up the fan seen in the above picture in the bathroom window (thank goodness this bathroom has a window!!) and have been sucking the stinky air out. Using the fan & keeping the door closed has kept the smell confined pretty much to the bathroom. So I am happy to report this has not affected the other rooms of the house.

OK, so back to last Thursday... the builder sent out two guys who basically deal with fixing up various warranty issues for the neighborhood. They cleaned up all the debris from the closet & in the wall with a shop vac. It turns out the debris had been hiding the source all along. A SKUNK. Yes, seriously. This is why the smell wasn't going away - this was no ordinary rat or mouse in the wall. The poor thing had burrowed into the insulation under the bathtub, taken a nap, and was sheetrocked in - rather sad to think about, and I'd probably feel more sympathy if this wasn't my brand new house!

Since computers don't have a way to share scents (you're thinking, thank goodness!), let me share with you that it did not smell like when a skunk sprays. It really was hard to identify - that's why the builder initially said "sewer gas" and someone else suggested "fertilizer or bug spray?" And that's why 4 big "I-know-what-a-dead-animal-smells-like" men said "NO WAY is it a dead animal".

The workers who found it ran gagging to my front door with greenish looks on their faces, I thought they were going to lose their breakfast on my front porch. Then, because they still had to remove "it" from the wall, they obtained painter gas-masks from the painters finishing a house across the street.

Since Thursday, we've all been trying to get rid of the rest of the smell, which has proved to be a difficult task. The clean-up guys used PineSol & Fabulouso, then a concoction of Dawn dishwashing liquid, baking powder and hydrogen peroxide. Chad & I have also tried Odor-cide, and today I bought an enzyme scent remover from the pet store.

As of right now, it still smells heavily of a weird combo of cleaners & gym socks. And the door is still closed, and the fan is still running.

Here's the big hole in my linen closet as it is now.


Debbie said...

Maybe try polyutherane (sp) to coat the surface and seal it. I know when we had a cat that used our floor as a liter box, we had to strip the carpet and seal the floor.

PamperingBeki said...

Rebekah!!!! OH NO!!!!

I snorted when I read your title and the further I got into the story, my jaw dropped and I started gasping with each sentence!! That is unbelieveable!

I'm so sorry! Wow. Just wow.

rubberbandgirl said...

Oh. My.
I'm beyond sorry.
Yuck, yuck, yuck!
I'm glad you found the problem before more time had passed.
I hope hope hope it goes away soon.

Kimberly Jarman said...

Thank you for your comment Rebekah!!!

Erin said...


poor skunk!

glad you figured it out!

Jus Shar Designs said...

I'm sitting here repeatedly saying OH MY GOSH. I can't even imagine the smell.

Part of me even feels badly for the skunk. Poor thing just wanted to cozy up and catch some zzzz's.