Strange smells in your office building can be more than just unpleasant to your nose. They can be downright embarrassing to your guests, as well as a possible sign of a problem that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

While things like pet accidents and spoiled milk might be easy to detect and deal with, there are some odors that are more severe or downright mysterious. Do you have a strange smell in your home or office and you don’t know what it is or how to deal with it properly? If so, the following guide might provide you with some key insights on how to get your indoor space smelling fresh and clean again.

Identifying Odors That Might Be Dangerous

Some mysterious odors can be a sign of a more serious threat to your family’s health and well-being. Simply opening a window might diminish the smell, but the underlying threat could still linger. The following things should be taken as a cause for concern if you find them lingering in your home or office.

Smell Of Rotten Eggs Or Sulfur

This is often an indication of a gas leak of some kind. Typically it’s propane gas which is otherwise odorless to the human sense of smell. So refineries add sulfur dioxide which is harmless in and of itself. Though the propane itself is highly flammable and presents a major fire risk, not to mention a major risk to your respiratory health.

What To Do

If you notice a prevalent smell of sulfur or rotten eggs, you need to open the nearest window or two. Then check all your propane appliances such as a gas range, furnace, propane dryer, or gas water heater. Look for signs of the pilot light being out. If you do notice a light being out, you should first ventilate the home before attempting to relight it. It might also help to turn off the gas line while you do so.

If you cannot find the source of the gas leak or sulfur order right away, then you need to evacuate all people and pets from the house. Then call the fire department to notify them of a potential gas leak.

A Burning Or Fishy Smell

This is often an odor associated with the start of an electrical fire. Quickly double-check all outlets and light fixtures.

What To Do

If you do notice signs of smoke or fire, you should attempt to turn off the power at the circuit panel or fuse box. If this stops the odor and all signs of fire dissipate, you should then contact a licensed electrician to have the wiring issue professionally repaired. If turning off the circuit at the electrical panel doesn’t have an appreciable effect, you need to contact the fire department immediately. While you wait for them to arrive keep a fire extinguisher on hand. If there is an immediate sign of fire, evacuate all people and pets from the house.

The Stench Of Death

Once you smell it for the first time, the classic “Stench of Death” will always be stuck in your memory. If you notice a smell like this, it might be related to a dead animal like a mouse or a rat that’s gotten into your walls, or an outdoor animal that died in your attic or near another outdoor ventilation area.

What To Do

If you cannot immediately find the dead animal, you should contact an exterminator. They have the tools and expertise to deal with the remains in a safe and confined manner, all while minimizing the damage to your home. They can also advise you on how the animal got there, and what you can do to prevent a future animal problem.

Signs Of Odorless Gasses

Some gasses are truly odorless, yet can still pose a significant health threat. Chief amongst them is dangerous carbon monoxide.

Carbon Monoxide

Generated by a wide range of sources, carbon monoxide is more likely to be a threat in a home or office area that uses portable propane heaters, and gas fireplaces, or a gas range. It can also be produced by faulty automobile engines, which can seep into the home if a car is left running in an attached garage.

Symptoms of a carbon monoxide leak include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

What To Do

If you suspect there is carbon monoxide in your home, you should open the windows. Then turn off all suspect devices that might be producing the carbon monoxide. At that point, you should evacuate the home or office space to let the gas dissipate.

You can buy a carbon monoxide detector in most hardware stores, found near the smoke detectors. This might help you narrow down the search for the source of the gas. If you cannot identify the source of the carbon monoxide, you should contact the local fire department.

Once the imminent threat has been dealt with, you should consider placing carbon monoxide detectors in key rooms where the gas might again be present. This includes the living room, near any fireplaces, or gas heating devices.


Volatile Organic Compounds are frequently found in paints, stains and other household products. Sometimes you can notice an artificial petroleum odor. Though some VOCs are mostly odorless.

What To Do

If you have been painting or staining without proper ventilation, and are experiencing respiratory irritation such as coughing, sneezing, and wheezing, or you have a lingering headache, you need to improve the ventilation immediately. This can be done by opening windows, turning on fans, and activating ceiling vents. If possible move to an outdoor location, or make an active effort to significantly improve the ventilation in the room you are working in.


It can be all too easy to ignore a bad odor at first. While a stinky garbage can or a burned meal can certainly foul the air, other odors like rotten eggs, the stench of death, or burning smells, need to be taken seriously. When in doubt, do your best to improve the ventilation, get out of the environment and call in the professionals.