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Old 03-26-2013, 10:28 AM   #1
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Weird Smell from HVAC


Okay, so all winter long we've noticed a strong sewer smell when the heat kicks on in the second story of our house. It doesn't happen every time and ONLY occurs on our second floor. The home has two heating zones, one on the basement and main floor and another on the second story.

The furnace is propane and located in the basement. There is an air handler located in the attic that forces the air into the second story.

Any ideas what is causes this smell? Or what I could look for to eliminate possibilities? We have AHS warranty on the home, but I doubt a smell is covered.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:08 AM   #2
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Weird Smell from HVAC


A dead animal (rat, squirrel or mouse) in a duct related to the second floor?
or
Does it smell a bit like rotten eggs?
Is the smell generally on the second floor or does it seem to be coming from the duct outlets.
Do you have a bathroom on the second floor that might be having a trap problem?
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:48 AM   #3
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Weird Smell from HVAC


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Originally Posted by how View Post
A dead animal (rat, squirrel or mouse) in a duct related to the second floor?
or
Does it smell a bit like rotten eggs?
Is the smell generally on the second floor or does it seem to be coming from the duct outlets.
Do you have a bathroom on the second floor that might be having a trap problem?

It's not a dead animal smell. Definitely rotten egg. It is ONLY on second floor and comes from ducting. We don't have a bathroom on the second floor. I thought it might happen when we flush certain toilet on lower levels, but haven't found a pattern there either.
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:19 PM   #4
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Weird Smell from HVAC


Check if the condensate trap on the air handler is dry.
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Old 03-26-2013, 01:21 PM   #5
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Weird Smell from HVAC


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Check if the condensate trap on the air handler is dry.
Would that be located in the attic near the handler? If so, can I access it to know if it is dry?
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Old 03-26-2013, 02:59 PM   #6
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Weird Smell from HVAC


i wonder if they drilled a hole in the sewer vent stack for the condensate
line and like marty said the trap is dry.
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Old 03-26-2013, 03:17 PM   #7
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Weird Smell from HVAC


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i wonder if they drilled a hole in the sewer vent stack for the condensate
line and like marty said the trap is dry.
IF they did, do I just need to add some water or does the line need to be rerun someplace else?
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Old 03-26-2013, 08:09 PM   #8
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Weird Smell from HVAC


if they did and you just add water, it will take care of the smell untill the trap runs dry again. thats why you didnt smell it during a/c season because the condensate kept the trap full.
But, that system is not up to HVAC and plumbing code. During new construction we will run the line from the attic to where the washer or a sump pump, utility sink is. during a add on we'll run the drain through the side of the house following the refrigeration lines. it wont freeze because only using it in summer.
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:12 AM   #9
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Weird Smell from HVAC


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Originally Posted by hvac instructor View Post
if they did and you just add water, it will take care of the smell untill the trap runs dry again. thats why you didnt smell it during a/c season because the condensate kept the trap full.
But, that system is not up to HVAC and plumbing code. During new construction we will run the line from the attic to where the washer or a sump pump, utility sink is. during a add on we'll run the drain through the side of the house following the refrigeration lines. it wont freeze because only using it in summer.
There are two 1.5" pvc lines that are coming down from the attic area and run outside of the house onto the ground. They definitely look like condensate lines (in my very unprofessional opinion). THere is, however a vent stack that runs through the roof near this location, so maybe there's something tapped into that in the attic?? I might just have to take a look and see what I find.

Since we just moved in November, we haven't been able to determine if this happens in the summer too. But, I didn't notice it as much when the weather warmed up and then when it got cold again we started smelling it more frequently.
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