Please help us rid new house of mystery stank
April 10, 2013 6:48 PM   Subscribe

We just bought a new house, yay! It's in suburban NC, less than 3 years old. Starting today, my husband and I noticed a strong musty smell in the front entryway. There is a guest bathroom and a home office just beyond this foyer, but those rooms smell fine to me. The floors are hardwood, no rugs down yet. There is an air vent directly overhead as you enter the house. Could that vent (pushing out a/c for the first time since move-in, now that weather is warm) be the source of the funky smell? If yes, why?? And how do we get rid of it?
posted by little mouth to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
could be that the AC unit is dusty and needs cleaning, that was the cause of our musty "earthy" smell coming from our vents.
posted by katypickle at 6:58 PM on April 10, 2013

Best answer: In my experience the AC smells weird the first day or two, but not beyond, in normal operation. Seconding dust and/or vacuum the outside unit. Also stick a vacuum hose down any indoor vents you can access.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:01 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, AC is often musty the first couple of days. I used my car AC for the first time in the season earlier this week and I noticed it. If it's still a problem after a day or two look into cleaning the AC unit and replacing any filters (probably not a bad idea regardless).
posted by mskyle at 7:09 PM on April 10, 2013

change the hvac filter too, can't hurt.
posted by couchdive at 7:50 PM on April 10, 2013

Best answer: I would certainly blame the A/C for at least several days. If you want to find out if the smell is localized and biological, get a blacklight.

posted by Lyn Never at 8:02 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Run water and flush in the bathroom. If you don't do this periodically, the water in the bend pipe (under the sink and toilet) that acts as a 'cork' can dry up, allowing sewer gas to come back up. This happens if a place (like a recently purchased house) has been sitting empty for a while. If you have any guest bathrooms that don't get used very often, run water in the sink/shower/toilet every month or so (just for a minute...u just need to get the bend re-submerged)
Also might be dust in the vents...usually it makes weird smells when the heat first comes on in the winter (burnt dust), but it could be happening in the a/c as well if any element like the pump is getting hot...this should go away on its own...
posted by sexyrobot at 8:47 PM on April 10, 2013

When we had that smell in our new house it was attributable to wetness and rot in the wall where water was getting in around the improperly installed window. We figured it out when we changed a switch plate cover near the problem.
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:28 PM on April 10, 2013

The other option is down. Is the house built on a crawlspace? Something may have died there. But I'm hoping it's the AC. :)
posted by Shoggoth at 7:51 AM on April 11, 2013

Is it possible the plumbing is leaking (or was leaking for a time) into the walls or underneath the hardwood floors?
posted by CathyG at 10:01 AM on April 11, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the helpful answers...smell went away without needing intervention in about 2.5 days of continous a/c use. I also marked sexyrobot's answer as a best because this seems a good tip for avoiding future bad smells from other sources.
posted by little mouth at 4:31 PM on April 13, 2013

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