Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Smell That?

Something smells in my house.  And it ain't oven fresh cinnamon buns.  It isn't even dog.  It's a wrong smell.  It seems to be coming from the basement.

It's probably not bugs either, but it's bugging the bleep out of me.  See, bad smells are OK as long as they are in the style of asparagus scented urine.  In other words, you don't like it, but you know why it is happening and you know it will not last long.

So what the heck is that smell?  Mold?  Dirt?  A dead animal?  Satanic visitation? (Remember Amityville Horror?!).  It smells vaguely like bitter armpit rotten stump topped off with skunk scat.  It also kinda smells like a sinus infection coupled with a garbage can that has been stewing in the garage for several days in August. Of course, I can't be sure anymore because my nose cilia have fled in fear.

Could it be the accumulation of countless odors collected in the structure of an old old house?  Is it the ramped up version of what happens when somebody has a garlic and cumin seasoned lunch?  You know, the curious dynamic that takes something that was pleasant going in and turns it into a new and decidedly unpleasant incarnation oozing out.

What can be done to kill this stench?  There are many things that don't do any good.  Walking around the house sniffing things, for instance,  has proven profoundly ineffective.  Ever hear of that volcanic rock that is supposed to absorb odors?  Well, there are several plastic mesh bags of those rocks hanging in the basement.  Every few months you're supposed to re energize the rocks by putting them in the sun.  Every few years you're supposed to rejuvenate the rocks by soaking them in salt water for 24 hours, rinse them off, then put them in the sun for several hours.  I whipped up a batch of salt water and soaked the bags.  The next day the sun obligingly came out to shine it's magic on the bags of rocks.  Now, the salted, rinsed and baked rocks once again hang in various areas of the basement.  Suspicion grows that these bags of rocks are not only symbolic, but provide only one function:  dubious decoration.

Meanwhile, outside the smelly house, the honeysuckle are in bloom.  This is the first time I can recall not finding the assertive scent of honeysuckle cloying.

Throw open the windows!  Run some fans!  Air out the house!  That's the ticket.  Dang, the temperature is in the high eighties and the humidity is also in the high eighties.  Let's hope that nice thick air will be more forceful with the smell then a delicate breeze would be.

OK.  Let's crank up the dehumidifier.  Something is happening!  We've had to empty the collection bucket again and again.

The Handsome One helpfully lit a scented candle in the basement.  Alas, it did not mask the smell.  On the bright side, since we did not blow up, we know for certain that the smell is not gas.

Something else must be done!  Speaking as one inclined to obsessive hand washing, how do I proceed without going extreme?  Bringing in a garden hose and blasting everything is probably over the top.  Let's tone it down a little and try a good bucket of sudsy water and a good sturdy brush.  If that doesn't work I may wait for Divine intervention.  While I'm waiting, it couldn't hurt to  apply procrastination.  This would allow the smell time to fade surely and gradually, the way my youthful skin tone did.

Smell results here.


  1. Maybe a bird flew in somewhere....we have a creature in our attic that start clawing right when I'm trying to think. It's very strange. It's also over 100 here and you would think he would leave for cooler climes. Anyway, good luck. I never heard of the rock treatment. :)

  2. I experience unpleasant smells in my apartment building far too often. I didn't know what they were until a friend from church, a retired police officer, explained that it's caused by my neighbors smoking pot.

    Smells like skunk to me....

  3. Usually when this happens in my garage it's because a mouse has died behind something or in the walls.

  4. I've never heard of volcanic rocks being used in that way!