Household Smells That Might Mean Danger

You walk into your house after work, and you notice a weird smell. You might smell a fishy odor, ammonia, rotten eggs, or something else. Whatever the odor is, it doesn’t make sense because you haven’t cooked fish lately, and there aren’t any eggs hanging out somewhere. Such household odors are more than just a nuisance. However, they can be a warning sign of hidden dangers that require immediate action.

Knowing what different smells mean can go a long way towards protecting your family and home from hazards. In general, the sooner a problem is detected, the less expansive it will be to correct. As a result, you will want to note any unusual smells and get to the root of the problem sooner rather than later. Let’s take a look at some household smells that might mean danger.

Odd Fishy Smell


Some homeowners report an odd, fishy smell, while others think of it as a urine smell. Either way, this type of smell could signal an electrical issue in the home. This fishy smell might be the smell of overheating and melting of the insulating plastic or ­rubber around electrical wires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical fires account for 13% of all residential fires. Electrical problems are the second leading cause of house fires.

An indicator of an electrical system problem will be if an outlet smells like it’s burning. If you notice this fishy smell around an outlet cover, it could mean that there is a problem. Protect yourself and your home from an electrical fire by addressing potential problems right away. Noticing anything close to smoke or burning plastic smell is a sign of an electrical problem, and the outlet needs to be looked at by a professional. While there are plenty of DIY projects you can do around the house, electrical work should not be one of them. If you smell burning around any of your outlets, call a professional to assess the situation.

Musty Smells


Any musty smell is usually a sign of mold or mildew. Any mold could be a large problem for your home and your family’s health if not remedied quickly. A musty smell typically comes from absorbents like cloth, wood, or drywall damp for long periods of time. Sometimes musty smells come from a temporary and non-dangerous problem like clothes being left in the washer for too long. However, sometimes it may be an indication of water damage.

If there is no clear cause for the musty smell, you should call a professional to investigate the problem. Water can cause significant damage to your ceilings, walls, floors, and even foundation, which will require costly repairs. It can also lead to the development of mold, which is dangerous to the health of all those living in the home.

Rotting Egg Smell


A rotting egg smell in your bathroom or kitchen may indicate the presence of sewer gases. This smell emanates from a sewer backup when the waste meant to leave your house from the sinks, tub, and toilet is blocked. When the backup gets all the way to the source, it will begin to back up into your house. The sewage that is supposed to leave your house will come up through all the drains, including the showers, sinks, and toilet. If the main drain pipe is clogged, a professional will need to be cleared out regardless of when it is discovered. However, discovering the problem before it backs up into the house will save you from a gross and potentially costly clean-up inside.

If you notice a new strange smell in your home, it should be investigated for a potential problem. Of course, the smell could be from the trash that needs to be taken out or some food you accidentally left out. If it isn’t one of these benign issues, however, it could be there is a problem with an electrical socket or backup of waste in the plumbing. You must investigate and remedy the source of the smell for the protection of your home and family.

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