Most of us know what it’s like to walk into a room and catch a whiff of something unpleasant. Although we don’t tend to think about the smells in our home very often, they can be an indicator of trouble on the way. Smells aren’t just annoying; they’re meaningful because often they signal a potential health hazard.
How Do We Define An Indoor Odor?
Odors are the most common causes of indoor air quality problems. Odors in your home can be caused by things with which you come in contact, regular use of appliances, smoking, pets, and even cooking. Other sources may include mold growths or water damage. The best advice is to identify all possible offending odors within your home and then remove each one by one.
Here’s a guide to common smells in the home and how to deal with them.
1) HVAC Maintenance
If you smell dust or dirt when your air conditioning or heating system kicks on, it’s a sign that the coils need to be cleaned. Many people call this type of smell “mustiness,” but it is actually the result of particles building up on the evaporator and condenser coils in your HVAC unit.
The units should be inspected every year to make sure nothing has clogged them. If there is a problem with airflow from your vents, call an HVAC professional for service immediately.
2) Burning Plastic
There are few things more unpleasant than the smell of burning plastic. The fact that it may indicate a fire hazard doesn’t help much either. If you can, locate and remove any products containing plastic from your home; if not, be sure to keep an eye (and nose) out for any signs of trouble with them.
3) Mildew and Mold
If your home is damp due to water leaks, high humidity levels, or other problems, mildew and mold may develop behind walls and in hard-to-reach places such as basements and crawlspaces. These fungi release spores into the air; if these spores find a suitable location they’ll begin growing. The resulting buildup of mold can cause respiratory illness, skin problems, headaches, fatigue, sore throat—even memory loss. The smell of mildew and mold is very difficult to get rid of, so if you notice it in your home or suspect there’s a problem, it’s time to call in professional help.
Gas smells can be especially worrying because they’re sometimes the only sign that gas leaks are occurring; however, it’s important not to panic immediately because carbon monoxide poisoning can also lead to flu-like symptoms that include headaches and nausea. If your nose detects gas in the air but you don’t see signs of other problems (e.g., broken appliances), leave the area quickly and check with local authorities for advice—or at least open all windows before calling professionals.
5) Rotten Food
Most of us don’t like to consider what happens to the food we put in the fridge and leave there, but it’s a regrettable fact that sometimes the contents go bad without us noticing. And as all parents of stinky teenagers can attest, it doesn’t take much for those leftovers to become basically inedible. To avoid this problem, be sure to clean your refrigerator regularly (and always before you fill it with new groceries).
6) Sewer Gases
Sewers have a bad reputation because they contribute so strongly to our concept of what smells “bad.” However, the truth is that the smell isn’t actually dangerous—it’s simply unpleasant. This is yet another reason why it’s important not to use a septic system as garbage disposal; it’s also wise to avoid flushing sanitary napkins, diapers, condoms, indigestible materials (e.g., cigarette butts), and wipes down the drain.
Just like gas itself, gasoline smells can be dangerous if they indicate that there’s an active gas leak in your home. Even if you don’t smell gas, gasoline spills can create problems. The vapors are highly flammable and may cause an explosion or fire risk; also, if any of the liquid gets on your skin it’s best to wash it off immediately.
Dangerous Odors At Home
The worst-smelling odors at home can indicate a problem that needs attention. If your nose tells you something is wrong, check for signs of sewer gas, natural gas leakage, or carbon monoxide risk before calling professionals to come take a look and do necessary repairs.
Get in Touch With Our Team Today
Here at Baylor Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, we take your comfort seriously. We offer a wide range of plumbing, HVAC, and air quality services to help you look forward to being at home! Call us today for more information or to schedule an appointment – we’ll be happy to help you out!