Household Smells and Flooding

Written by Tom Elliott. Posted in Rakeman Blog

Even the most responsible people could leave for a summer vacation without preparing their homes properly. If you’re one of those people, and you’ve returned to a flood or a smelly home, you may be tempted to turn around and go back on vacation. Instead, follow the tips below to get your home back on track.

Confronting the Awful Odor of a Gas Leak

If you open your front door upon returning home and a sickening-sweet smell of rot assaults your senses, step back for a moment and think: do you have any gas appliances? If you do own gas appliances, sniff the air to determine whether the awful smell indicates a gas leak is present somewhere inside or around the home.

If you do smell gas, be careful. Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide may have built up inside the dwelling. It’s best to call your utility company or gas supplier before entering the home if you suspect a gas is the source of the odor.

One possible source of the smell could be a gas pipe burst that has caused natural or LP gas to pool in rooms. If you have an LP tank outside, it may have run out of gas, causing the pilot lights on your stoves and heaters to go out. It may be that the line to the pilot light spews just a tiny bit of gas, but that tiny bit could be enough to fill your home with the rotten-egg scent.

If the smell is not overpowering and you don’t hear a hissing or roaring sound, open the windows and doors to let air inside the home, and then try to find the source of the leak. If you can’t find any leaks, or if the smell of gas is too overpowering, call your gas supplier to come check out your home.

In fact, if the smell of gas is overpowering, don’t go inside the home. To avoid a possible gas explosion, you also shouldn’t turn on any lights in the house or garage or start any vehicles inside the garage. Stay somewhere else with your household members until the problem is resolved.

Confronting the Smell of Rotting Food 

If power to your home was interrupted for any reason, perishables in your refrigerator may have begun to rot. Clean the lingering odors left inside the fridge by tossing the perishables. Items like butter and milk will retain the rotten smell and taste. Remember that no perishable food is safe if it’s been unrefrigerated for more than four hours.

Remove all of the bins, shelves, and drawers in your refrigerator. Wash every piece you took out of the fridge in hot, soapy water. Rinse with a deodorizing, sanitizing solution of one tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of water. Clean the inside of the fridge and freezer areas with baking soda or white vinegar and water, avoiding abrasive scrubs or cleaners.

Unplug the refrigerator and open the door. Let the appliance sit like this for a day or two; you can even set up a fan to circulate air inside while it’s shut down. If the smells remains, have a qualified repair person clean your evaporator coil, as this refrigerator part may be retaining odors from a past power outage.

If old trash is the source of the stench, use a fresh bag to dispose of the garbage. Take the trash bin outside and wash it in warm, soapy water. Use the bleach solution to sanitize the bins, and then let them dry in the sun to air out the odors.

Dealing with the Aftermath of Flooding

If you left the water on while you were away, you may return to a flood. Perhaps the water heater overheated when no one was taking showers, and the pressure-relief valve blew out. Someone may have left a faucet dripping only to accidentally create a pond that has spilled over the sink or tub.

The first thing you should do when returning home to a flood is turn the water to your home off. If the flood is posing a risk to electrical lines or devices, you must shut off your main electrical breaker too. It may not be fun to clean a waterlogged house with no lights or air conditioning, but being somewhat uncomfortable is better than being electrocuted.

If you can’t reach or touch the main electrical breaker, call your power company to come turn off the electricity safely. Leave your home until the power is shut down.

Take pictures and videos of all damage before you begin the flood cleanup. You may need the images and video as proof to show your landlord or insurance company. If you suspect you have water behind the walls, contaminated flooring, or other serious structural damage, ask your insurance company about reimbursement for a professional flood-cleaning service. Call a plumber too so you can have faulty plumbing or a blown water heater replaced or repaired.

Next time, have your plumbing and water heater inspected and serviced before you leave for vacation. You can contact the plumbing professionals at Rakeman Plumbing today to get your home all squared away for summer fun and vacation season.

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  • North Las Vegas, NV 89030
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