Bought a house and there is a very distinct sour smell

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We have put in air fresheners, but if the house is closed up for a spell and you come back, the smell is overpowering. Not like a dead animal, but a sour smell. Very strong in the back part of the house where the crawl space is below.

  10 answers
  • First, check the crawl space or hire someone to do for you and clean out anything that might be under there. Then use charcoal throughout the house in dishes to clean up any odors.
  • Alyssa Alyssa on Aug 18, 2017
    Have you checked for mold/mildew? Crawl spaces are often good incubators for mold. Also check your ductwork. It can collect dust, pet fur, etc., and trap moisture and smells.

    And if you have carpet in that area, it's quite possible the padding under the carpet got wet and held on to the smell, whether from a previous cleaning or possibly from pet urine. You might have to pull up the carpet and padding.
  • Sunny C Sunny C on Aug 18, 2017
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  • Jeanie Robinson-Pownall Jeanie Robinson-Pownall on Aug 18, 2017
    Did the previous owners have pets? Do you have carpet? You can take up part of the carpet and spot check for stains. You can also check with a blacklight. There is a product called "OdoBan" (available at the Home Depot) that will chemically break down urine. You will have to saturate the area and of course the best thing to do is remove the carpet and padding and saturate the floor with OdoBan before the new carpeting is installed. If you just mask the urine odor pets will still be able to smell it, and think it is ok to go there. I would also be suspicious of mild or mildew in the crawl space (or even a dead animal - nasty but the cheapest and easiest to resolve). Either hire someone to go under there and look (and exterminator, for example - s/he can certainly tell you if there is mold or mildew growing under there); OR rig up a mirror on a stick (actually an auto repair tool) and angle it in the opening while shining in a flashlight. Good luck - sounds awful!
  • Karen Krysowaty Karen Krysowaty on Aug 18, 2017
    Definitely either you or someone else you hire need to get down there. Could there be something growing in the crawl space or mold or mildew. See if you can locate the specific area because it can be under the carpet. The last house we bought had an area in the kitchen that smelled when it Sanded that area then used bleach and other cleaners to get the smell out. Good luck
  • Vicky Davis Vicky Davis on Aug 18, 2017
    Did you change out the curtain rods? The story of the wife getting back at her ex comes to mind....where she put shrimp tails in the rods. Funny I know, but in case the change of carpet doesn't help...
  • Cecelia Cecelia on Aug 18, 2017
    Get some cinnamon and vanilla sticks. Put them in a pot with water and simmer on the stove. Place pan in the room where you have the sour smell. Make sure place pot on a hot pad. This also works great to get rid of skunk odors in the house.
  • Dfm Dfm on Aug 18, 2017
    odoban has enzymes to break down organic caused odors, but no help for mold mildew odoes.
  • Indi Indi on May 06, 2020

    Electrical issues can cause weird smells. Can be intermittent when the socket over loaded