House Has a Bad Odor? Where to Look

Education & Training with My Chemical-Free House

If a house that is going on the market has a bad odor here is a list of places you should look to investigate its source. 

1. Look for spray foam insulation. Freshly sprayed spray foam can have a noticeable odor for a little while (which is normal), but if the odor is intense and everyone can smell it - and especially if it's not going down, it could have been done wrong. This is an error made during installation and there is nothing that can be done about it other than removing the foam. It often results in a lawsuit with the spray foam company. 

2. Musty pungent smell - of course with this one the source of the problem needs to be identified, remediated and properly corrected. One really odd smell I have seen in semi-tropical climates like Florida is when folks use bleach to wash tile floors and there is mold coming up from the slab. This creates a very unusual and very strong at times odor. Covering this with plug ins and aerosol sprays is not the way to go in my opinion. Those who are sensitive to odors will only be more turned off by adding more chemical odors. 

3. New House odor - if the house is brand new than the new house odor is an accumulation of all of the products that are offgassing. The best thing to do is heat and air out the house for a few days at high heat. Flush the air out by using exhaust fans and opening windows. (This is called a bake out). 

4. VOC odor but it's not a new house. If the house is not new but there have been recent renovations or you have brought in new furniture for staging then it could be one of the following - new cabinets that offgas formaldehyde (solid wood is better), solvent based paint on cabinets, oil based paint on trim (water based alkyd is better), new sofas, new rugs (bringing in furniture that isn't brand new is better). 



Comments (5)

Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Corinne, great post with good ideas of where to look for bad odors.   In my house, it could be the catbox.  LOL

Oct 23, 2022 03:16 PM
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Hello Corinne Segura very good good helpful report for house has a bad odor, where to look.

Oct 23, 2022 03:31 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Interesting information. I never heard of a bake out!

Oct 24, 2022 05:03 AM
Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

This is an excellent post with great information. Thanks for sharing it.

Have a super fantastic week!
Joe Jackson, Realtor-KWCP

Oct 24, 2022 06:57 AM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

Great information, thanks for sharing.  I hope you have a great day.

Oct 25, 2022 03:30 AM