Weird fertilizer/gassy smell in the basement (from the water heater?)
December 30, 2013 7:36 AM Subscribe
I was away from the house last night when I got a text from my wife about a strange "fertilizer" smell coming from the basement of our house. I came home a few hours later and smelled it immediately - hard to describe, but a slightly acrid, recognizable chlorine-y scent reminiscent of a garden center. It was noticeable on the first floor but stronger in the basement. I sniffed around for a while but couldn't locate an obvious source. The only thing I could find that was awry was that the pilot light had gone out in the water heater (only time that's happened), which is suggestive of a chimney backdraft
. I relit the pilot without issue and verified that the water heater was venting correctly with a stick of Nag Champa. Multiple C02 detectors in the house detected nothing.
We'll have an HVAC guy come out ASAP, but I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this and whether I'm diagnosing the issue correctly. Is this what water heater fumes smell like? We've lived in the house for a year, and this is the first time it's happened.
posted by ndg to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
We're in Chicago, and yesterday was cold and windy (and there was an exhaust fan running in one of the bathrooms) - all conditions that seem
to contribute. The boiler and water heater are both old and vent through the chimney (no fireplaces), which has a steel liner.