Photograph of - damaged vinyl siding Odor Diagnosis & Cure Checklist
A Procedural Checklist for Odor Source Diagnosis

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Building odor & smell diagnosis & cure procedure:

This article provides a methodology useful for tracking down the sources of odors in buildings.

When you can't seem to find the source of an annoying building smell, we suggest using these investigation methods that include noting the time, weather, area, operation of equipment and similar conditions that will help track a building odor problem to its source.

How to find the cause of odors, odor sources, and how to find and cure the source of smells in building air, water, heating and cooling systems, or other sources.

Does your home have "BO" - building odor that is hard to track down? Here we suggest step by step procedures to help find the source of a building odor complaint.

We list possible odor sources and we discuss using a time and event log to help track down odor sources, explaining how to find the source of and then eliminate sewer gas or other smells anywhere in buildings, including the living area, basements, bathrooms, kitchens; how to remove septic smells or other odors of any kind from buildings; Links to articles on diagnosing and curing smells in buildings.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Procedure Checklist for Diagnosing the Source of Odors or Smells in Buildings

Stuffed animals were hiding building damage (C) Daniel FriedmanWe offer below a list of smell and odor diagnosis clues that any home owner, home inspector, or other investigator can follow in seeking to pinpoint the source of an annoying or obnoxious odor in buildings. Readers are asked to contact us to suggest additions or corrections to this list.

Often people's perception of odors varies with time and exposure or with a number of other site factors that make it hard to track down just where a smell is coming from.

But if we think carefully about when, and under what conditions we notice odors, often that information is instrumental in tracking down an odor to its source and thus in helping us decide if an odor refers to a potentially dangerous or unhealthy condition.

This odor diagnostic checklist is in simple alphabetic order, not in order of probable cause, importance, or health risk, all of which can vary widely.

A printer-friendly abbreviated PDF version of this smell diagnostic checklist is at ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLISTt-PDF, thanks to reader Kathleen Black

Odors That Have Specific Events as Sources

Keep an Odor or Smell Log to Track Down Odor Sources

Sanitizer used as a deodorant - OdoBan displayed at a building supply store (C) InspectApediaOdors Related to Time, Weather, Events, Mechanical Systems - how to Keep an Odor or Smell Time & Data Log to Help Diagnose the Cause or Source of an Odor

Photo at left: OdoBan™ is a dilutable-liquid product advertised for use in "elimninating odors" in buildings. This product was on display at a building supply store and is widely available.

The container labeling advertises the product for use as a deodorizer that "eliminates unpleaseant odors on washable surfaces", as a sanitizer, a disinfectant, a mildewstat


and as a viricide.

We could not find the product ingredients on its label but the product's MSDS is readily available and indicates that principal ingredients (other than water) include isopropanol and Alkyl (C12-16) dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride.[7]

There the product is described as including a floral alcohol - its source of a more pleasant scent than the odor it is intended to ban. Indeed, killing bacteria (if that is the odor source) or washing a contaminated surface with a sanitizer or disinfect is likely to significantly reduce the contribution of that specific surface area as an odor source.

But as we comment


because an odor reservoir can provide effectively a continuous source of smell, in our opinion the most effective means of odor removal in buildings is to find and remove the odor source.

For this reason this article series focuses on methods to find the source of smells or odors in and around buildings.

Keeping a log sheet that records date, time, weather, operation of building mechanical conditions, sun, wind, etc. can help track down otherwise mysterious smells in or around buildings.

Checklist of Possible Causes/Sources of Odor or Smell Complaints At or In Buildings


Continue reading at ODOR DIAGNOSIS SIX STEPS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see ODOR DIAGNOSIS FAQs - questions & answers about building odors, posted originally at this page.

Or see ODOR EVENT LOG & CHECKLIST FORM printer-friendly PDF file to record odor observations


Or see these

Odor Diagnosis Strategies:

You can start tracking down the cause or source of an odor in one or more of several ways:

  1. ODOR DIAGNOSIS SIX STEPS - taking an orderly approach to odor source tracking
  2. ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST - an easy checklist of stuff to examine or test - this article
  3. ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE - includes a catalog of places to look when tracking down an odor source
  4. SMELL PATCH TEST to FIND ODOR SOURCE - procedure for testing specific surfaces or items to see if an odor souirce of if they have absorbed and are re-emitting an odor

Suggested citation for this web page

ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST, PROCEDURE at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher - Daniel Friedman