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My house smells so horrible I'm considering moving

(57 Posts)
JacqueslePeacock Sat 13-Jul-13 20:55:29

Please help - you're my last resort! My house smells disgusting and I have no idea what it is. I live in a Victorian terrace which we bought 2 years ago. The smell is worst in the hallway but is also pretty bad in the sitting room, just off the hall. I struggle to describe the stench, but it reminds me of some kind of stinky dried mushrooms, or perhaps just really horrible ingrained dirt.

I've had the carpets cleaned professionally - no improvement. I've had a damp company come in with their damp-o-meter - no damp. I've pulled up part of the carpet in the hall, but it's just clean, bare floorboards underneath. What the hell can it be?? We've just come home from 2 days away and the house has been shut up, and the smell is so overpowering that I've told DH we'll have to move.

VivaLeBeaver Sat 13-Jul-13 20:57:29

Has the smell always been there since you moved in?

Do you have pets?

ArtisanLentilWeaver Sat 13-Jul-13 20:58:21

Have you looked under the floorboards?

LaurieFairyCake Sat 13-Jul-13 20:58:47

Dead rat under floorboard. Lift the boards.

RandomMess Sat 13-Jul-13 20:59:49

I was going to say somwthing under the floorboards too

ArtisanLentilWeaver Sat 13-Jul-13 20:59:54

Also, could any of your neighbours be growing skunk?

Onesleeptillwembley Sat 13-Jul-13 20:59:56

Any family members missing in mysterious circumstances?

VivaLeBeaver Sat 13-Jul-13 21:01:33

It says here that mildew causes a mushroom smell.

We used to have mildew in our living room due to condensation. Our house isn't damp as in no rising damp, it's just a ventilation thing especially in winter when it's cold outside and warm inside. We got a dehumidifer but it did used to smell musty.

The other thing were thinking of is a positive air flow thingy in the attic.

WestmorlandSausage Sat 13-Jul-13 21:16:37

any chance the windows and doors have been replaced with air tight double glazing and the ventilations bricks papered over?

We had the same problem.... no ventilation

JacqueslePeacock Sat 13-Jul-13 21:22:30

Wow - thanks for all the speedy replies! to answer the questions:

Yes, the smell has been there since we moved in (although we didn't notice it when we viewed the house).

No, we don't have pets.

I very much doubt our neighbours are growing skunk (though it would be highly amusing if they were - we live next to a vicar!)

No family members missing yet, although I have been sorely tempted at times.

I will think about the mildew thing, but we seem to have pretty good ventilation - the house is full of cracks, holes and ill-fitting sash windows so there should be quite a bit of airflow. I guess that answers the last question too: definitely no double glazing!

JacqueslePeacock Sat 13-Jul-13 21:23:40

Oh, and no, we haven't looked under the floorboards. Would a dead beast smell like that? I thought it would smell more like....rotting meat, or something. Looks like lifting the floorboards might be a job for tomorrow.

perplexedpirate Sat 13-Jul-13 21:25:46

Dead mice don't smell like you expect. Check under the floorboards.
Good luck!

Chubfuddler Sat 13-Jul-13 21:28:36

A dead animal wouldn't smell for two years. Sounds like mould/mildew.

WestmorlandSausage Sat 13-Jul-13 21:33:39

were the previous owners smokers?

JacqueslePeacock Sat 13-Jul-13 21:39:16

Yes, the previous owners were probably smokers (it was let out to 3 teenage-ish lads who didn't keep it very clean and probably did smoke inside).

I also doubt a dead creature would smell for so long - but I think we'll have to check under the floorboards now, just to cross it off the list if nothing else.

Surely surely surely mould/mildew would be picked up by the damp expert though? I shall be very unimpressed with their service if not! Where would the mildew be and how would I find it?

VivaLeBeaver Sat 13-Jul-13 21:41:38

Its likely to be in any areas of poor air flow. Behind sofas, inside built in cupboards, behind bookcases.

RandomMess Sat 13-Jul-13 21:44:09

I was thinking of mould/miildew under th floorboards - LOL!

valiumredhead Sat 13-Jul-13 21:46:46

Hate to say it but when this happened to friends of ours it turned out there was a sewage pipe leaking under the floor boards.

RandomMess Sat 13-Jul-13 21:54:24


Aetae Sat 13-Jul-13 22:07:12

I agree with everyone who said mildew - that's exactly what it smells like and it doesn't have to be very damp for it to survive - I've had it in cupboards before and it's a pain to get rid of. Dead animal smells quite different - I had something die in the roof of my bedroom as a kid and you really know when it's decomposing flesh, it's unbearable (and it goes away after a couple of months).

Given the weather, a really good airing will help - all doors and windows WIDE open for a couple of days and really let everything air out.

Historic patches of damp will probably be where the mildew is (even if there isn't any now) - around radiators, other possibly leaking pipes, etc. If it's the hall check around the front door as well. Then treat any patches with an anti-fungal (I use tea-tree oil diluted in something like cheap vodka, assuming the surface will take it). Bicarb can also help absorb the smell, so can cat litter.

And yes, it might be under the floorboards so if you lift them be prepared to give it a good clean out to remove anything under there that's harbouring the mildew. Could be gross if it's been there for a while!

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sat 13-Jul-13 22:11:49

Our Victorian terrace had a damp smell coming up from the cellar, which ran under the front room and the hall. If you have no cellar, then I think you'll have to start moving floorboards to look, sorry!

EeyoreIsh Sat 13-Jul-13 22:17:30

Our victorian terrace stunk when we first moved in. It was awful.

Turns out it was the drains. The sewer pipe that runs under our conservatory had overflowed.

We flushed it out with lots of hot water and bleach and removed the blockage. We replaced the floor boards and carpets as the smell was ingrained.

JacqueslePeacock Sat 13-Jul-13 22:30:08

It's definitely not a sewage-type smell. It's an earthy, mushroomy smell. I have googled that in the past and found dry rot, but the damp specialist said no sign of that. I am so baffled that I am contemplating going and pulling up the carpet right now to lift a couple of floorboards...

JacqueslePeacock Sat 13-Jul-13 22:30:47

Oh and no cellar (as far as we know!)

JacqueslePeacock Sat 13-Jul-13 22:32:28

Oh, and (final thing) - there's no furniture in the hall, apart from a single radiator. It's very narrow and there's no room for anything in there like cupboards, bookcases etc, to be harbouring mildew. So if it is mildew I guess it will have to be under the floor.

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