A Very Disturbing Smell

Strangely enough, this is not a post about politicians or climate change or anything else sustainable.  It is about a mysterious smell in our house.  Here is the story.

Kim’s nose is very sensitive.  On Sunday night, after we had closed up house and all the volunteers had gone home she smelt a faint odd odour in our bedroom.  All fart jokes aside, we couldn’t really determine its origin, and I couldn’t really smell it at all.  I just thought that it smelt like the bathroom floor mat which was damp.

Monday, Kim could still smell this odour, and now I could just smell it.  It smelt a little like natural gas, however I knew that there were no pipes in this part of the house.  The odour was only in the main bedroom, and we could only narrow it down to around the east wall, but I could not pinpoint the source.

Tuesday, it got worse.  Kim decided to pull everything out of the bedroom except for the bed, so I had to stop everything and help.  This included a Uni assignment that was due today.  We pulled out the wall unit, the chest of draws, and everything in them.  We still could not find the source.

Wednesday, craziness set in.  Kim started to loose it a little, so I told her to call the plumber so see if we had any damp problems.  Our friendly neighbourhood plumber Adam made a house call, and gave us a few suggestions like put a wax seal around the rubber seal that connects the toilet to the drain, take a water meter reading and check it in an hour to see if we had a leek in the concrete slab that the house sits on.  Well the water was not leaking, and I couldn’t smell anything around the toilet.  Adam kindly did not charge us anything.

Thursday, Kim called our builder mate Ray, who was due to fix a leak around the cob oven flue (didn’t quite seal it properly and rain damaged a bit of the oven).  Ray could smell the offensive odour, and thought that it may be something in the roof.  He got up there, lifted a few tiles, but could not find anything.  If it was a rodent, he said it would go crusty in a few weeks and the odour would go away by itself.  BTW, he fixed the seal around the flue as well.  All for free again.  Very nice of him to look for the smell.

Today, I was at wits end.  Kim said she was going to demolish the house to find the smell, so as I was home for the day (that is another story), I decided to go up on the roof and have a look for my self.  I started to remove roof tiles, which was quite easy, shoved my head into the hole that I made and used my nose to try and pinpoint the odour.  After about 2 hours and pulling half the roof off on top of our bedroom, I got it down to a few square metres.  I started to rummage through the insulation, which today I found out was rock-wool, that was laid about 50 cm thick.  After about 20 minutes of meticulously searching, I found the smell.

It was a dead mouse, and OMG did it reek.  My nose hairs are permanently singed!  Gav to the rescue, pong finder extraordinaire.  I tossed the creature from the roof to the ground, and you could almost see the trail of stench.  Who would have thought that such a small dead creature could cause such a calamity.

Anyway, the saga is now over, the smell has abated, and life is back to normal around here again.  Nothing to see here except us neo-hippies fruit loops!


  1. says

    I found a dead, smelly rat under a tomato plant…. when I went to pull it out by its tail, all I got was tail…. the rest had started to decompose just enough to come apart. YUK!!!

  2. says

    I share Kim’s smelling ability – it’s a curse sometimes. That situation would have driven me batty. Thank goodness you located it.
    Hope you got your assignment done too!

  3. says

    oh yes. Kim, I share the smelling-curse.

    it’s nasty.
    very nasty.

    I won’t go into the list of where we’ve found them but yay that you did Gavin.

    At least it was accessable. Inside the bottom of a cavity wall there’s nothing you can do but wait for time to dry it out… blergh.

    here’s to a nicer smelling house!~

  4. says

    It is a disgusting smell and well done for locating “the source”.
    On a practical level, did you return the insulation back to a solid mass in the roof.
    My partner, having been in the insulation business and now a thermographer, says that even a small disturbance of insulation will render the energy saving almost to totally inefficient. That’s why eletricians have such a bad rap in the trade as some of them don’t replace the insulation that they have had to move to complete their work.
    But, you probably know all this already …..


  5. says

    I had the same problem in my car a few years ago. I said it smelled like something had crawled into the aircon unit and died. my husband, who is a mechanic. and his friend, who is a auto elec, looked at me like I was crazy. Its a sealed unit. it cant happen. Guess what I was right, it was a mouse and the fan had killed it. I will never let them forget it.

  6. says

    I hear you, Kim. I have a sensitive nose too, but mostly for the bad smells. :(

    We had the misfortune to have two mice climb or fall into a glass vase that I kept under the sink. Apparently they weren’t able to get themselves back up the steep, slick surface and… bleck. I won’t soon forget that funk, I promise you. ;P

  7. says

    I swear I did not laugh, nor did I even crack a smile. No one who has suffered that smell for any length of time would.

    Glad you found the offender before insanity set in.

  8. says

    Must be that time……we have found a mouse in the dining room, getting in through a hole behind a cupboard, my Rusty and Cindy located it, so now the hole is plugged up….so hopefully no more mouse gathering a pile of dog biscuits for his stash.
    We had a Miner Bird in the roof once, I just put Rusty in the man hole and she caught it for me, and bought it to me dead….Good girl Rusty.
    I’m so glad you finally found the stinky source of the smell, even better its gone now.

  9. says

    Yep its bad, we had one die in the insulation in our oven. Every time you turned the oven on it reeeeeked – had to be pulled apart.eew. Mice and rats in droves this year, where’s the pied piper when you need him?

  10. BevB says

    Glad you found it :-) Reminded me of a time when, every night my sound-sensitive son would say “I can’t sleep because there are noises in my wall”. Nobody else could hear these mysterious noises but he was so persistant we had to keep trying to find out what it was…. turned out to be mice living in the walls!!

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