Author Options:

Can anyone help explain this strange chemical smell from our laundry room and basement? Answered

We had discovered a very strange kind of chemical smell coming from our laundry room and the very same strong smell from the basement sort of linking toward the hot water tank. I had done laundry last night and started to smell it when I woke up the next morning. We are worried if it is something harmful. Could this be something from the hot water tank or something else? Please help!


My house smells very bad of a chemical smell. Very much like paint thinner or acetone. The local fire department has been there for days and evacuated us. They are very much puzzled. We know for sure its coming in the big O and into our sump pump. Did you ever find the answer to what it was or why? Frantically searching for an answer. Our house is built on swamp and an old dump.

We had something similar in one room. After sniffing our way round the radiator, chimney, etc, we finally found that it was the electric light bulb - the new low power kind. Try switching off and taking out your light bulbs and sniffing the contact end. It was very smelly in our case, and very clearly the same smell we were getting in the room generally. Hope that helps.


7 years ago

I don't know where you live. But if you live in the South or South Western part of the USA. It could be the Drywall aka Sheetrock. If your house was built within the last 10 years. It's a good possibility. The drywall was made in China and carried some nasty chemicals that made people sick, and corroded the pipes and wiring in the houses Definitely get it checked ASAP. You life and well being is of the utmost of importance.

 One thing that struck me that you might look into also is your washer. From reading your post did it start smelling after you did the laundry? If so it could be a problem with a detergant build up inside the washer (and bacteriea grows). It builds up in the nooks and crannys inside the washer and when water is put in it "activates" the bad smells. I seen where people have used vinager in the washer to clean it out. Just something to check out.  I agree with most everyone else, get it checked out.

You're describing hydrocarbons, or possibly Freon (but I don't know what they smell like)
If your fridge / freezer stops working it might be what you suspect. Otherwise, your house wasn't built on top of some waste-pit was it?


Our fridge and freezer are working fine. We opened all of the windows upstairs and now you can only smell it downstairs. If it is Freon, is it dangerous?

.  Freon® (CFC mixture) has no odor to speak of and certainly not an acetone sort of smell. Freon® (and most chlorofluorocarbons) is not very toxic, but it is a suffocation hazard (displaces Oxygen). It is heavy, so it will settle in low places like the basement. If it's a very new unit, it may not contain any CFCs at all.
.  Quit fooling around and get someone that knows what they are doing to check it out.

Could be mold, could be a gas leak, could be an electrical problem, could be darned near anything since "very strange kind of chemical" doesn't really give us much to go on. I think this is one where you get someone locally to help you with it.

And I wouldn't procrastinate if there's ANY chance that it's either gas or electrical. You want to keep that house, right?

I would say it smells like nail polish or nail glue. And the smell is now in our entire house. We considered possibly a freon leak.

It smells like acetone?

I'd suggest calling the fire department, to have them check for gas leaks.

Ah, good one! Have you got an insulated basement, allnet?

If you can't find any obvious spilled containers , make sure to pick up any container that holds volatile chemicals, glue, paint, etc. It's possible that the bottom of the can has rotted in the moist environment of the basement.

It's also possible that you've got something percolating back up through your drains. I have a laundry tub that is a bit too aggressive on the drain (it's truly amazing to watch how fast it empties), and will pull the plug of water that sits in the trap, that in turn normally separates the sewer from the home interior. Give a sniff to the laundry or floor drain.

Most fire departments or gas companies have the equipment to check for gas leaks.

if its a gas smell, its pbbly your water heater leaking the gas, or a cracked pipe, if its a rotten egg smell its most likely the water in the heater,... and if its a ether-type/ benzene-type smell it could be your neighbors' meth lab (kidding)