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Insulation emitting odor
Added a full dormer to a cape cod. After putting up some of the R-13 in the existing walls (replaced torn or missing insulation), we discovered that some of the insulation hasd a "fishy" smell to it. I contacted the company that I purchased the insulation and was told that the insulation may have gathered some humidity and the smell would disipate. It took several months to complete the wiring, plumbing and have inspections prior to drywall. We did not smell any of this smell but now, one room in particular has a "fishy" odor.
Could this be coming in through the drywall, light fixtures, wall plugs, etc.?
What could be done about it?
This room is a child's bedroom and if the door is shut without the ceiling fan running, it smells - only on one end of the room - the room size is 22 x 16.
Any suggestions are appreciated.
Posts: 27 | Location: Michigan | Registered: 18 February 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Could a critter have entered somewhere and assumed room temperature in your house?

Architect (NY) and Home Designer (PA)
Posts: 2870 | Location: Tobyhanna, PA | Registered: 24 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Nope, we checked for "critters", cleaned, moved furniture again as we are still putting furniture back into the room. Only way there would be something would be in the wall/roof area which is now not accessable. Don't see anything in the attic either.
Please help, my child thinks her room smells l ike a lake.
Posts: 27 | Location: Michigan | Registered: 18 February 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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On numerous occasions I have detected what I thought was a urine smell upon installation of fiberglass batt insulation. This smell may be simular to your fishy smell. I have never had this smell continue to be a problem once the drywall was installed. If your smell is so strong that you think it will carry through after the drywall is hung then you should tear it out and replace it.
Posts: 2 | Registered: 26 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Just a couple suggestions: The manufacturer admits that moisture might cause the smell. If the smell isn't going away, perhaps the moisture isn't going away either. IE, there may be a leak that is introducing moisture to the insulation regularly, causing it to never dry out completely. First, if there isn't any living space over the subject room, it may be inadequate ventilation in the attic causing high humidity or condensation in that area. I had a poorly ventilated attic once and the exposed roofing nails would gather frost when cold and then drip when it warmed up. Also, consider that water "travels". It may come from a leak farther away that you think and run along a rafter or something into the area of the smell. I'd check for moisture in the attic above the room and, if possible, in the drywall itself. Also, there may be an opening outside (siding or trim) where driven rain enters and runs into the area. I recall that a home inspector had a device that poked into the drywall to detect moisture. Minimal damage, but it did help locate/pinpoint a trouble spot. If you have to tear out drywall, better to tear out a small section, (to fix a leak, replace insulation) than a whole wall or room. Good luck!
Posts: 7 | Location: Byron, Illinois | Registered: 31 May 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The room has been completely finished - drywall, paint, carpet, light fixtures, etc. We detected no additional smell prior to putting up the drywall as the insulation was in place for several months during the summer of 2005. The area in which we detect the strongest odor is at the front of the house (cape cod) so there is no access anylonger to the portion of the attic. There is an attic access above the room and I was told to check the vents that we put in under the insulation which lead to that area and then to the ridge vent. These were to pull air from the soffit vents through this dead area and up to the attic to the ridge vent - this venting was highly suggested since we can have hot summers, rainy spring and fall and cold heavy snow winters.
This bedroom is on the upperfloor of the home, second story (actually considered 1.75 stories now). The front of the home where the smell seems to be coming from also has no obstructions through to the other upstairs bedroom, the area between the rooms is above the stairs and has a small opening as we were loosing alot of heat and causing ice dams there. (when tearing out the old drywall, we found no insulation in this area except above the main floor ceiling).
The other bedroom has no smell, that we can detect.
Even took a black light and looked for moisture, etc. we found nothing. The smell is similar to a fish bowl or a lake smell.
I hate to tear out a portion of the wall but will keep my options open to suggestion. The wall that would be easiest would be the knee wall at the front of the house as it leads to this dead attic space and would be least noticed upon repair.
Thanks to those of you who have replied. Any other suggestions?
Posts: 27 | Location: Michigan | Registered: 18 February 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We live in a rented home and have exactly the same problem. My husband, who is in the construction field, says the smell is from mold.
Posts: 1 | Registered: 27 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We had the same problem with a Condo we remodeled and have since sold. It is the trim ring or socket of the incandescent light fixture. We searched for over a year, ruled out sewer gas, dead mouse, etc. Did not notice the odor until we were in the unit for a while and finally realized it did not occur unless the effected fixtures were on( Bathroom and kitchen). these were new fixtures from national Home Center chain. Fast forward to next house. We have been in our current house for 7.5 years and in last three months had started smelling the same odor all over again. After a similar search for the obvious, again we finally located the same issue with the fixture over the kitchen table. this was not a cheap fixture, but has the same high density trim ring to hold the globe in place and the lamp socket itself is of the same material. Before "CHINA", these were made of porcelain.

Hope this will help you locate the offending fixture!!
Posts: 1 | Registered: 07 November 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wow does that make sense! In revising the home, we added a centrally located ceiling fan with light, a ceiling fixture at the center of the front and back of the room, ceiling mounted wired-in smoke detectors, a light fixture in the closet and additional wall fixtures in the hallway. In total, we used to have 4 ceiling mounted fixtures prior to the renovation/addition in the upstairs level. We now have 7 ceiling mounted fixtures, 5 wall mounted fixtures and 3 wired-in smoke detectors.

I did check to see why there seems to only be smells in the bedrooms and not in the bath. The bath has one ceiling (fan/light over shower) and a wall fixture. When installing these, the insullation is not "touching" the fixture box.
I also did find that there is no smell coming through the venting into the attic so fixtures seems to be a good place to start. We will not be replacing them due to the cost but will keep it in mind for possible changes later on.
Posts: 27 | Location: Michigan | Registered: 18 February 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Just to clarify that the insulation picked up humidity or moisture prior to delivery to our home. We kept it in the garage and brought into the house the rolls/packages as needed. Then this sat open without drywall for months (did alot of the work myself with some help from family and friends) so the progress was slow or nonexistant at times.
There is no evidence of any leaks and it also was suggested that the insulated areas of light fixtures/fans/smoke detectors, etc. may add to the smell - not sure.
We also were informed after having someone come out to the house to check the smell, that the carpet padding may have gotten damp before installation and the reaction between the padding backing and the pre-dampened but now dried padding is a standard issue that is overlooked. I contacted several local carpet places and they all stated that it could be an issue, expecially if the installers did not allow the dampened padding to dry or placed the damp side down, thus trapping moisture. Their suggestion was to spray with an odor remover and vacuum often. We also keep the ceiling fans on low if the room is not used for a period of time. Hopefully with some use and maintenance, the rooms will remain odor free.
Posts: 27 | Location: Michigan | Registered: 18 February 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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