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What is that SMELL?

What is that SMELL?

So, winter has a lot of fun things associated with it. Snow days, hot cocoa, Christmas… I could go on. One thing, though, that often plagues this season is odd smells. We’re getting a lot of calls here regarding odor issues, and thought we’d give you some tips on how to deal with it. First though, just to be clear – if you suspect it is a gas leak or other utility issue, always call your utility company. They have special units designed to come check those out day and night, and they’re happy to do so.

If you’re sure that it’s not a gas leak – and here’s a link that will help buff you up on how to recognize those: – there are some other steps you can take.

  • Listen to your pets. You’ve got an awful smell, and your dog just won’t leave that spot in the hallway alone. Chances are, whatever is in that wall is the source of your problem. Animals can sometimes lead us to the location of the smell.
  • Sniff, sniff, and sniff. Can’t figure out where it is? Try using your nose to triangulate the location of the smell. If you can smell it in the two bedrooms connected to the hallway, but not in the kitchen off the living room, you can begin to guess where the problem is.
  • Check the usual suspects. Heater vents that come through the subfloor can be a highway for rodents if not correctly screened – make sure you don’t have a visitor that has long overstayed located in one of these. Also check fireplaces, dryer vents, and other points of entry from outside to in.
  • Get down and dirty. Your crawlspace can often be a haven for rodents and other creatures, particularly in the cold of winter. Check this area yourself, or hire a professional to do the dirty work for you.

If none of these tips work, it may be time to contact someone who can help. If it did work, congratulations! Your detective skills are finely-honed, now. The next step, however, can be the hardest (and grossest) of all. You have to remove the source of the smell.

Sometimes, this can be as easy as popping off the dryer hose and out it comes. Maybe you just have to open up the heater vent and armed with tongs and a garbage bag, send the unfortunate soul to its final resting place. Sometimes, though, it gets a little more intense.

Often, rodents crawl into our homes seeking heat. Our walls are a very warm place, but can also be very tricky to navigate and they can frequently get stuck. Also – rodents avoid their own kind when they are ill or injured, pushing them into the seemingly secure wall voids where they later expire. If you are a homeowner, you can make the executive decision to cut through the walls to extract the specimen – if you’re sure of the location. You can also try to retrieve the source from the crawlspace or any other place in your home that wall voids are exposed.

If all of these methods fail, you can have a professional spray an enzymatic material that will both neutralize the odor and help the biological matter decay a little faster. This can help if you have a holiday party, visiting families, or other guests. Our professionals use a material called Bac-A-Zap and our usual fee for the application and removal of rodent (if possible) is around $175. Sometimes, our specialized tools can help get the rodent out without a lot of unwanted remodeling.

So – how do you keep this from happening again? Exclusion, exclusion, and exclusion. We can’t say enough about exclusion. It really is the first defense for the home against rodents and the bad smells they leave behind. Sealing up entry points can really make a difference. Second, and also very important, do not place rodent poison, bait, etc. inside the structure of your home. When the material has begun to work its effects on its target, the rodent will seek a secure and vacant location – often the very places you’re trying to keep them out of. Exclusion and baiting go hand and hand – the rodents must not be allowed to access the structure once the bait has been consumed. Lastly, before you start doing any of your own exclusion, check the crawlspace. Are there rodents? If you seal these rodents in, they will expire inside the structure, therefore making the problems worse. A professional can help you tackle this problem in the correct order – get them out, keep them out, and reduce the outside population.

As usual, if you ever have any questions regarding a pest problem around your home, please feel free to call us. We’re always here to help, or simply to answer a question.

Good luck!