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House Smells Like Skunk: Is It Dangerous? (Why and How to Fix It)

There’s not much worse than waking up to a house that smells like rotten eggs or even worse, like a skunk. If you’re wondering why your house smells like skunk, there are a few reasons why that might be the case.

First of all, if you have a pet, check for any “accidents” around the house. You may even suspect that you have a dead animal inside or outside your home. If your house is clear of rodents or accidents, there could be another reason why your house smells like a skunk – and it’s very dangerous.

The first and most dangerous reason a home has a skunky smell may be a gas or sewer gas leak.

Other, less harmful reasons may include skunk spray on a pet or furniture, skunks near the home, a dead animal in the home, food that has passed the expiration date, or even certain types of plants. In addition, the foul odors may be a result of a gas leak in the HVAC system.


Sewer gas leak

In order to rule out a gas leak, take a walk over to the drain, bathroom basin, or kitchen. Is the pungent odor getting worse? It may be as a result of a sewer gas leak.

This kind of leak may not be as dangerous, but it is still toxic.


What is sewer gas

LockOut - Locking Floor Drain Replacement Grate With Odor Blocking Valve | Blocks Sewer Gas Odors and Locks With A Single Bolt - Round Zurn 5.0" Sewer gas is the byproduct of the decomposition of organic household waste. It is often confused with natural gas, which is odorless and contains a chemical called mercaptan.

This is what gives natural gas a skunk smell and why one might think it could be a leak caused by natural gas.

The purpose of adding mercaptan to natural gas is to warn people in the event of a leak when they smell the odor. Therefore, it is imperative to contact the local natural gas company and inform them of a possible natural gas leak as this could lead to a violent explosion if not addressed immediately.

You should immediately warn people in the home and exit the house immediately for safety reasons.

Sewer gas is a mixture of both toxic and non-toxic gasses and may be the reason for the strong smell in your home.

Much like natural gas, sewer gas is actually odorless. It is the methane in the sewer gas that mixes with other gasses, such as hydrogen sulfide, that may give off the rotten egg smell in the house.

Related: Washing Machine Smells Like Rotten Eggs: Causes and Solutions

What does sewer gas consist of?

The composition of sewer gas includes sulfur dioxide, methane, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and esters. A 2019 study revealed that exposure to any levels of hydrogen sulfide may be toxic to oxygen systems in the body.


Is sewer gas dangerous

In small doses, exposure to sewer gas is not very harmful. However, strong odors in the house or exposure over extended periods of time can be very harmful. In smaller, more confined spaces, methane will replace oxygen and can be deadly.


Possible reasons for a sewer gas leak

Sewer gas may leak into the home, and cause an odor, for various reasons. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Leaks in the plumbing system or leaks from nearby septic systems
  • Clogged drains from backed-up sewage
  • Dry plumbing from unused facilities such as toilets, drains, a floor drain, or washbasins
  • Blocked air vents


How to address sewer gas leaks

Leave your home, and contact a plumber. An experienced plumber will be able to identify the source of the leaks and advise on the best method to address the matter.


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Symptoms of exposure to sewer gas

If you experience any of the following symptoms after detecting a bad smell in your home due to a sewer gas leak, you may need to consult a doctor:

  • Dizzyness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Poor memory


How is exposure diagnosed?

There are currently no tests are available to determine exposure to high levels of sewer gas as a result of a leak.


Skunk odor

That stinky smell in your home may be a result of skunks present in the area where you live. It is commonly understood that a skunk’s spray may be a direct reason for the stink in your home.

But, did you know that a skunk that still has its scent glands will give off odors, even without realizing it? Simply being near the home is enough to make your house smell.

Skunks are nocturnal, which means that you will only see them at night. If you see a skunk during the day, chances are very good that the skunk may be rapid. Call an animal control officer immediately and do not approach the skunk. Skunk activity is heightened during mating season.

If this is the case, then there are possible home remedies that may help to reduce the smell of rotten eggs in and around the home. Keep in mind that the odor may last for 14 to 21 days if not addressed immediately.

Did you know that there are plants, such as the skunk cabbage, that give off a skunk odor? Check your garden to make sure that some of these plants aren’t present in the garden.


Skunk spray

Skunks may spray as a method to ward off predators or those it views as a danger. They may spray as a last resort but you will definitely know when a pet or animal has been sprayed. The pungent smell will fill a room quickly and cause your home to smell bad.

If you have a dog and you let your dog out during the night in an area where skunks are known to be active, chances are the curious dog may get sprayed and bring the bad smell into your home.

If you or your pet have been sprayed, it’s best to immediately wash the smell off your entire body, using the homemade remedy.


What do you do if your house smells like a skunk?

The first step is to find out where the skunk smell is coming from. Remove the source of the odor immediately. The odor may be as a result of a dead animal in the walls of your home, such as a dead rodent, including a dead mouse, dead skunk, or dead rats. Check the walls to make sure that this is not the problem.

Keep windows open and air the house out by putting the air conditioning system on full blast.

In addition, check the air conditioning filters as this may be the source of the odor. Air filters need to be changed every 90 days for homes without pets and every 60 days for homes with one or two pets.

You may have heard that tomato juice may help to remove the smell from your clothes or furniture. This is a myth. Tomato juice will only mask the smell for a short period.

Check for any produce that may be expired as this is a known culprit. It’s important to know how to identify a smell that comes from expired food.


Can a gas leak smell like skunk?

Yes, absolutely. It has also been described as smelling like burning rubber. If you notice a pungent smell in your home then this is the first thing that you should be checking.

This leak can cause a massive explosion if it comes into contact with any type of spark. Homeowners will often get sewer gas confused with the smell of natural gas.

If your kitchen appliances use propane gas, check to make sure that there isn’t a leak that may be causing the smell.


How to differentiate between sewer gas and natural gas

The first sign to distinguish between the two is that sewer gas smells more like rotten eggs while a leak caused by natural gas will have more of a skunk odor to it.


How can I get rid of skunk smell?

The first thought that comes to mind is: how will I get rid of this skunk odor?

When your house smells like a skunk, the first step is to open all the windows. Allow fresh air to come into the home and circulate that bad smell out of the house.

Check each room to find the source of the smell.

Using scented candles in the home may help to eliminate the scent from the house as well.

You could pour white vinegar into bowls and place the bowls strategically around the house. It is best advised to leave the vinegar bowls in place for a few hours up to 48 hours or until the smell is gone. Vinegar is an excellent remedy to address any bad home smells. Or, simply put vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it directly onto infected areas.

Another option would be to purchase a commercial cleaner to remove the odor. The chemicals in a commercial cleaner is designed to address and rid furniture and carpets of a bad smell. By spraying the chemicals directly onto the infected area, you may rid yourself of the horrid smell.

A chemist, known as Paul Krebaum discovered a remedy to address and resolve a skunk smell:

Mix a quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide with a quarter cup of baking soda and one or two teaspoons of liquid soap. The mixture may be used on a human or on a pet. Always use a face mask when preparing this mixture.


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More smells to be aware of and what they mean

Vinegar Smell in House

Bad Smell Coming From One Vent in House

Septic Tank Smell in the House? Here’s How to Get Rid of Septic Smells

Burning Plastic Smell in the House

Why Does My Bathroom Sink Smell?

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