How to Search for the Specific Source of Smells in a New House

Midsection Of Woman Cleaning Kitchen Counter
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If you've moved into a great new apartment or house and think that you managed to secure the perfect place only to find the house reeks of a foul smell—what is the remedy?

Contact the landlord first—perhaps he forgot to take the garbage out. If that's not the case and the stench isn't easy to pinpoint, it’s time to find the source and clear the air.

Locate the Source of the Stench

First, pinpoint the area from which the smell is originating, as smells coming from a specific area are the easiest to find and remove. If you can’t find the specific place the smell is coming from, and the entire space is pungent, then the source of the smell could be in the air ducts or from the furnace fan. Check the basement or the area around the furnace and air source.

Doing a thorough clean of the kitchen before unpacking anything often quickly reveals any evidence from previous residents. Check the kitchen, where old food might be stinking up the place. Refrigerators, cupboards, and ovens often contain old food that has gone bad. These items may be hidden, so look carefully. For example, check behind small appliances, like your microwave, blender, and coffee machine. Look on top of high shelves for things left behind that may have become rotten.

Check for Water and Animals

If the kitchen is a fail, the next step is to check for any standing water, which will begin to smell if it’s left for too long. It's likely to be trapped in the washing machine, dishwasher, bathtub, or sink. If previous residents left behind buckets or pails, take a peek inside to see if there’s any liquid or old wet rags and sponges. Remove and dry any water sources found and air out the room.

Another place to look is beneath the house or around the apartment. Sometimes, animals or birds find their way underneath the house or deck, and some don’t survive. Carcasses have a very putrid smell, so you may recognize it as soon as you enter your new home. Various wildlife can also get into attics or walls, which is much more difficult to find and resolve. Keep an eye out for any signs of animal droppings and listen for any sounds.

Getting Rid of the Smell

If you can’t locate the smell, it's important to hire a professional. The source is probably hidden in the roof or walls, and you'll need to have someone properly assess the air quality to remove the problem properly. Otherwise, try the following:

  • Infuse your new home with a strong scent by using candles, linen sprays, oil diffusers, and incense.
  • Do a deep clean of the home by scrubbing the floors, cleaning the carpet, and wiping down all surfaces. While you're cleaning, leave the windows open to air out the area.
  • Remove items that come with your home, such as old blinds.