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Old 01-06-2012, 09:57 PM   #1
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


Hey so here is my situation,

I am renting a small bungalow near my university. I went home for the holidays and returned 2 weeks later to a bad smell in my place. At first I thought it was just a musty smell and some candles would fix it but I was dead wrong. Its like a strong kitty litter odor, but I don't have any pets! However there are generally a **** ton of squirrels and stray cats in my area.

I don't think its some sort of electrical melting smell because when I left the place I had unplugged everything in the house except the fridge, water heater and stove.

My first guess is either something died in or some mold is growing in my air ducts because the smell seems to be coming from the vents but the smell doesn't exactly increase when the furnace turns on.

So I did an experiment and turned the heat off in the house.

I noticed when the hot water tank started its cycle the vents started smelling. I told my landlord and he said perhaps the air vented outside from the water heater is somehow getting vented back into the house. I am waiting for the water heater to do its next cycle, when it does I am going to smell the exhaust it gives off. I don't know why I would never have smelt this before though since I have been living here for about 4 months. Would weather have something to do with it? I moved here in September and its January now.

Anyway I will keep you all posted, if anybody has any ideas let me know.

-Wes

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Old 01-06-2012, 10:29 PM   #2
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


Welcome to the forums!

Do you have cellulose insulation in the attic?
Overhead or crawl space ducting/HVAC?

Gary

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Old 01-06-2012, 10:43 PM   #3
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


Quote:
Originally Posted by GBR in WA View Post
Welcome to the forums!

Do you have cellulose insulation in the attic?
Overhead or crawl space ducting/HVAC?

Gary
I don't think there is an attic, but I don't know what type of insulation is above the sealing.

Crawl Space ducting

I don't know if I am going crazy but I started to hear little movements around one of the vents, like a mouse or rats feet.
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:05 PM   #4
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


If you have an air intake to your water tank than it is most likely a dead rodent stuck in the line.

I was expecting you to say when you turned on your a/c or heat the smell came out being vents and all. Not sure how vents have anything to do with your water heater tank..?
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Old 01-07-2012, 05:59 AM   #5
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


"Its like a strong kitty litter odor, but I don't have any pets!"
"I started to hear little movements around one of the vents, like a mouse or rats feet."

It would seem to me you have answered your own question.
I'd wager you need to get rid of the rodents before the smell will go away.
Rats and mice urinate everywhere they go, so the smell will always be there as long as they are.

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Old 01-07-2012, 12:35 PM   #6
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


Could also be a neighborhood tomcat has decided to claim your place. They will spray doorways and basement/crawlspace openings and that is enough to stink up an entire house. It is pretty easy to spot if you are looking for it.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:28 PM   #7
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Wes-P View Post
Would weather have something to do with it? I moved here in September and its January now.
Perhaps some creature(s) that were content outdoors in September weather decided that it's much more cozy inside your house in January.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:38 PM   #8
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


Ok update, so I went outside to get some fresh air and clean up a little garbage on the lawn that had flown from ripped garbage bags due to pests. So I saw some newspaper underneath the overhang of the house when I reached down to grab it there was the smell!! I looked up under the overhang and noticed a giant whole between a set of rafters. Landlord and pest guy are coming in an hour, I will keep you posted.

[IMG] Uploaded with ImageShack.us[/IMG]

Last edited by Wes-P; 01-07-2012 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:52 PM   #9
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


Btw I smelt the exhaust from the water heater, didn't smell like anything.
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Old 01-07-2012, 05:59 PM   #10
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


May be too late, but you could have saved some money on a pest guy by asking here- You could try strong ammmonium hydroxidde to blast the critters out of that duct (crevice/wall/overhang/whatever)! Cheap, easy to do. A little smelly, but smells better that rat urine, eh?
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Old 01-09-2012, 12:26 AM   #11
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


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Originally Posted by noquacks View Post
May be too late, but you could have saved some money on a pest guy by asking here- You could try strong ammmonium hydroxidde to blast the critters out of that duct (crevice/wall/overhang/whatever)! Cheap, easy to do. A little smelly, but smells better that rat urine, eh?
Doesn't matter its not like I would pay, the landlord would.

So the pest guy came, he seemed to think something died under there. So he sprayed some stuff in a few vents on the inside and outside to mask the smell. We cant really get physically in the crawl space because everything is sealed up real good. He said that basically we have to just let it decompose and he will just keep spraying every few days until it does its thing. I am really not satisfied since he said it could take a couple of weeks depending when and what died. 4 hours after his spraying the sent was just as strong -_-. Also wont it need flies to help decompose? Its winter where are flies going to come from?? I did happen to kill two flies in my house this week but wont it take forever to decompose without flies? Lets say there are some flys to help it out, wont they lay eggs and there will be a crap load of them swarming my place? He said the decomposition smell its not poisonous but to be honest I have been having some pain and itchiness in my chest/heart area not sure if its related. Plus it's pretty much all I can think about, cant get my mind off. FML

The other thing is I really need to see physical evidence that it is an animal making the smell. I don't know why this guy didn't have like a snake camera or something to see in the vents or inside the crawl space where the hole is. If I was a professional pest person these would be in my van, anyone else agree? If it's not an animal then spraying every few days will be useless cuz its just going to keep coming back.

I put some peanut butter on some mouse traps in the vent that also has a little access to the crawl space to see if I could attract something. So far nothing. I am thinking of taking matters into my own hands and riggin my iphone up to an RC car and sending it through the hole. I will skype on the phone and computer so I can see where the car is driving. Don't worry I will attach some string to both in case I cant drive back or they get separated.

Last edited by Wes-P; 01-09-2012 at 01:06 AM.
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Old 01-09-2012, 12:57 AM   #12
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


BTW since I am still open to other ideas for the cause of the smell (since I have no visual assurance) I will give you more information about the house in case there are any other guesses. Click the link to see some pictures of the area/vent that is giving me the most problems above the vent there is a hole in the drywall (usually covered by a square piece of plastic) to get access to what I believe is the water valves/pipes for the shower and toilet witch rests on the other side of the wall.

http://imageshack.us/g/62/img0425vd.jpg/

Last edited by Wes-P; 01-09-2012 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 01-09-2012, 04:49 AM   #13
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


So the so-called solution is to let an animal carcass rot?
I think I'd keep putting pressure on the landlord. Anything that comes in can also come out - one way or another.
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:27 AM   #14
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


A single mouse may eventually stop stinking but a opossum would reek aweful for years whenever humidity got high enough. I'd tell the landlord to bring a different approach.
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:14 PM   #15
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Another bad smell in vents. Kitty Litter Odor but no cats!?


So I had the Landlord bring the pest guy back. We tore off some shielding that was covering some spray foam insulation next to the hole I had pointed out the other day. We made a hole in the insulation and drum roll please drdrdrdrdrdrdrdrdr dead maggot filled rat. I never seen a rat before, they can get pretty big I guess. But yea that was the exact smell I had been smelling. I am really lucky that it decided to die right next to the insulation where we cut (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/825/img0430lq.jpg/), if it died in the middle of the crawl space it would be so difficult to spot and get out. The landlord doesn't think it got in through the hole I originally pointed out (neither do I), its over a foot off the ground. He thinks it got in between the AC unit and some flashing. It was supposed to be properly insulated but it aint. He is calling up the people who did it and its going to get fixed asap.

I am sorry there is no picture the rat it self, the pest guy took it away before I could snag one.

Thanks everyone who helped, hope this doesn't happen to you.

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