The Smell That Came from the Walls!
April 13, 2009 12:46 AM Subscribe
A terrible, B.O.-like smell emanates from a room in our house at odd intervals. I have a half-baked theory, which we seem to have confirmed tonight. Is it at all plausible? If yes, what can we do about it? If not, what else could it be?
posted by DavidNYC to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
First, to dispense with the obvious, no, I swear, it is neither myself nor my lovely wife who is the source of this smell, nor does it appear to be coming from anything we own. And it seems to come and go unpredictably - it might be months between assaults.
One friend suggested it might be a dead, decaying rodent inside the walls. But that wouldn't explain the on-off nature of the problem. However, I did notice something. Ordinarily, the incandescent, single-bulb floor lamp in the room is turned to 50 watts. Sometimes, when I need more light, I'll turn it up to 100 watts. (It's one of those three-way bulbs.) The appearance of the smell seems to correlate with the brighter light!
So could it be that a dead rat is getting fried a little extra-crispy whenever I crank up the juice? We've never had a rodent or even a roach problem, though. So could it be something else inside the walls - perhaps even the wiring itself? Do any common building materials smell like B.O. when they heat or burn? (We live in a regular old apartment building - I couldn't tell you what's inside the walls, or even what they're made of, but they ain't too thick.) Also, I checked - there's nothing actually inside the lamp that I can see which is smoking/burning (like a dead bug).
We tested out my theory tonight and indeed, the room started to smell after just a few minutes. (We turned down the light before it could get too pungent - the smell can have some serious staying power.) So, is my theory totally cockamamie? If I'm wrong, what might it be? And regardless, is there anything we can do to abate the problem, short of ripping open the walls?