Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ooooh, That Smell....

A smell has been building in our bathroom for the past several days. It's not pretty. To me, it smelled like wet towels. Vicki was convinced it was sewer gas. I couldn't be sure it wasn's sewer gas, so we theorized that perhaps the wax toilet seal had been broken.

I had never pulled a toilet. I imagined it would be a very messy, stinky operation. The lid to the tank had been broken since shortly after we moved in, and that toilet clogged easily -- so I thought "if I'm going to have to go through pulling the messy stinky toilet to replace the ring, I'm going to replace the toilet, too".

The toilet we got downstairs during the remodel was a resonably priced toilet, I liked its height, and it flushed very well. So I went to Lowe's and found it. The last one in stock. Bought it. I then (I know, not the right order) did some research on toilets and I found that it was a decent middle-of-the-road toilet (American Standard Plebe, if you are interested). I pulled the toilet, and to my surprise -- it didn't smell at all.

Which, of course, was a relief and also slightly distressing since this operation was triggered with the idea of eliminating the smell.

Daryl came over to help, and as we lowered the new bowl over the bolts, we noticed A BLOODY HOLE IN THE PORCELAIN!!!! Right in the drain part of it. Forklift damage. So we took it back. Since I was pretty sure that was the last one, I brought my research with me this time. There was a Kohler, about the same price, about the same rating. But it was significantly shorter than the Plebe. Plus... I always liked cousin Linda's elongated bowl. For $26 more, they had one with an elongated bowl. Still short, though. For another $22, they had a 17.5" tall one with an elongated bowl. Daryl was singing the praises of his long, tall toilet, and I gave in to peer pressure. Bought it, took it home, installed it. It didn't come with floor bolts. Or a seat. So another $20 later....

Of course, it didn't fix the smell (but it works great). We've sniffed all over the bathroom. Can't find the source. There's a little of it in the guest bedroom closet just on the other side of the bathroom. So I'd figured "dead animal in the wall". Or under the tub. But last night, I stuck my nose up by the exhaust fan, and I was pretty sure it smelled stronger. Mice in the attic. One crawls into the fan, can't get out, and dies. Good theory.

So I went up and sweated and got coated with blown insulation, took the fan apart. No mouse. And it doesn't really smell in the attic either.

So I don't know. I believe there's a dead animal somewhere, and unfortunately we're just going to have to let it dry out. The smell has gotten worse. But from what I've read unless I want to start tearing things apart, that's really the only option. It could be days, or even weeks.

But this, too, shall pass.


  1. Hi, I have a similar situation going at my house, though it only occurs upstairs in the bathroom. And it is much more common at night (colder???).

    I am assuming it is a wax seal so I was going to change that, but my ceiling fan seems to smell more than the base of the toilet. ? . Maybe the gasses are rising? My fan vents out to the vented soffits(sp?) and it doesn't smell, nor does the attic. I stuck my head out the window and don't smell anything out there (like the actual sewer vent which is on the other side of the roof.

    Did you have any success finding the problem?


  2. Have you tried to look into the exhaust fan duct? Since these are vented to the outside, and many times there are inadequate covers, birds and insects can get in. We called a company called Critter Catchers and the guy immediately new what the smell was - birds that just hatched. Sure enough there were nests and other bird things in the duct work. Once they pull all the junk out they cover the opening with something called a bird guard.