What could be causing this smell in my kitchen?
December 19, 2017 10:39 AM   Subscribe

What could be causing this intermittent, faint kerosene-ish (maybe) smell in my kitchen?

For about three weeks now, my partner and I have smelled something like kerosene in our kitchen. It's every few days or so, and definitely not a strong smell. It's like a faint version of one of those heaters people use in their garage.

What could be causing this? We have electric baseboard heat, but not in the kitchen, and we aren't smelling this in any other room. It isn't a natural gas smell at all, and it isn't coming from the stove.

Would a carbon monoxide detector pick up anything? Could it be caused by the fridge?
posted by amicamentis to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Do you have any vegetables sitting on your counter (onions, garlic, squash, etc)? I had a strange smell that I eventually tracked down after a few days to a bad instance of garlic.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:56 AM on December 19, 2017

Any new utensils or things made of cheap plastic in the area? Think of the smell when you walk into a dollar store. Something like that?
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:59 AM on December 19, 2017

I'll go out on a limb and say sniff around your electrical outlets too. If a wire is a bit loose and is shorting enough to get hot, it smells funny, carbon-y, but not quite burned funny.
posted by k5.user at 11:04 AM on December 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

Is it possibly a hot / melting plastic smell? It could be that you're smelling the drying cycle of your dishwasher (which may possibly be malfunctioning) if you have one. Happened to me.
posted by chocolate_butch at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Kerosene is a standard carrier for pesticides.

If you or a previous occupant had to deal with an infestation, you could be smelling residual kerosene from that.
posted by jamjam at 11:46 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Overheating outlets or light switches or the connections behind them in the wall would be my prime suspect. Especially if you could conceivably consider that kerosene smell to smell a bit like fish. Feel every outlet or switch and the wall around them. In our case, the local fire dept came with an infrared camera to find a hotspot about a foot above a bad outlet.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 3:52 PM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

The bad fish smell thing happened to me and when I took the suspect outlet apart it literally crumbled into pieces and was a very dangerous situation.
posted by bz at 10:17 PM on December 19, 2017

CFL bulbs can give out a hot stink when they're about to expire. Check your light fittings
posted by scruss at 7:09 AM on December 20, 2017

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