If you smell: Gas
Natural gas is odorless, so in order to make it detectable the chemical mercaptan is added, which creates that classic “rotten egg” odor. If you smell gas you could be in danger of a gas leak, which could cause fire or an explosion. Leave the house immediately and call the gas company on your mobile phone or a neighbor’s phone, says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Avoid using a landline phone in the house, turning lights or appliances on or off, or using a car, all of which could create sparks. Don’t miss more things every homeowner needs to know.
If you smell: Something musty
A musty, pungent odor could indicate a sink leak or broken pipe that has given rise to mold, which loves to grow in dark, damp spots. “For mold we’re really concerned about people with allergies and asthma,” says David Dyjack, DrPH, CIH, executive director of the National Environmental Health Association. “Both conditions can be exacerbated by mold exposure.” If you see mold, disinfect non-porous surfaces like tile with a 10 percent bleach/water solution and let sit for 10 minutes while ventilating, Dyjack adds. For porous surfaces like dry wall, it’s best to replace. If you can’t see the mold it may be in the walls, in which case call your local health department or a home inspector (the American Society of Home Inspectors website provides listings based on area code), to find the problem. These are other subtle ways your house could be making you sick.