What Causes Smell in Attic? How Do You Get Rid of Smell in Attic?

Why does my attic fan smell?

Any foul smell in our home or office can be pretty disturbing, so it makes a lot of sense to worry when your attic fan smells. Let’s backtrack a bit, attic fans are very important if you want to reduce the temperature and humidity in your attic.

It is way better than simply placing vents that may only let out some air. With an attic fan, you have the pulling power of a fan and a constant exchange of indoor-outdoor air. Attic fans are mostly electric, so a smell emanating from your unit can be a cause for worry.

So, why does your attic smell? Is it possible it’s overheating or burning wire, or is it something else? This post is meant to unravel any mystery about a smell coming from your attic fan and it should also help you know how to resolve it.

What Does an Attic Smell Like?

An attic is more or less a reverse basement. So, think of all the possible smells you can get from a basement as a result of moisture, heat, and even critters and you may not be wrong about what your attic smells like. It gets even worse if it’s an old attic.

Whether it’s old, damp or wet, your attic can smell pretty funny most of the time. However, a foul smell is something that you should worry about.

Rotting wood will smell rusty and moisture will release a damp smell, but there are other smells that are not normal and should get you worried.

1. Mold

1. Attic may smell like mold

Mold and mildew growth is quite common in the attic. This causes a musty odor that arises as a result of excess humidity in your dark, unventilated attic.

Your roof could be leaking, broken pipes or just accumulated moisture caused by climate and lack of ventilation.

While this smell is noticeable, it may not exactly cause any inconvenience in your home, except for the damage that mold itself can cause, including furniture and wall damage, as well as respiratory infections.

2. Dead critter or dead animal smell

Attic smells like dead critter

Sometimes the smell can be really awful and it may just be that an animal like a rodent has died in your attic.

The signs to look out for are the smells like sulfur, rotten eggs, rotten meat, or even urine. Dead critters can lead to other problems like rot, maggot infestation, and so on.

Once detected, be sure to search properly inside the attic and remove the dead animal. You’ll also need to ventilate and add an air freshener to make the place smell better.

3. Smell of waste

Attic smells like waste

Waste can also be a problem in your attic. Mice have a habit of moving trash into hidden places like the attic, and if you stay away for too long, you probably won’t notice until the attic starts to give off an awful smell.

This is a much easier problem to deal with because most times, all you have to do is clean the area. Sometimes, it can be the smell of rotten meat, and this would suggest an animal is living in your attic.

4. Smell like animal droppings and urine

This is another possible reason your attic is smelling. If an animal lives there, it is only likely that you’ll find animal waste, including feces and urine.

There are two problems; cleaning up the attic and getting rid of the animal.

Animal urine can give off a very pungent smell, so you must be observant enough to know where to look and decisive in dealing with the situation.

Why Does My Attic Fan Smell?

An attic fan is not supposed to smell, but when it does smell funny, you should know there’s a problem.

The most common foul smell that can come off an attic fan is that of sewer gas. This smell can also be funky or seem like mold. This occurs when the attic fan pulls in sewer gas from the floor drains of the shower.

This problem is also linked to a situation where the attic fan is sending more air out of the house than it is pulling in. This results in the unit pulling air and odors from any part of the house they are, including drains and sinks.

Apart from that, the mold smell can also emanate from the fan, especially when the fan has not been used for a long time. Mold can grow within the fan’s box and give off its smell when the fan is turned on.

The only other possibility is if there’s a burning wire within or close to the attic fan box. This smell can be amplified by the fan and must be checked out immediately.

A burning wire can be the prompt you need to check your unit and wiring to prevent a fire.

Is It Normal for Attics to Smell?

No, it’s not. If you keep your attic well ventilated and aired, you shouldn’t have a problem with any smell. This also depends on how well you keep critters and moisture out.

Your attic deserves to smell as fresh and clean as the rest of your house. Even if it’s a space you rarely use, allowing odor-causing substances or critters to fester can make things very uncomfortable for you and your loved ones.

Those smells can easily slip into other parts of the house, and nobody wants that.

Attics can smell like damp if it’s not properly ventilated, but even that cannot be considered normal. Keep things fresh and you won’t have to deal with any of those.

How Do I Stop My Attic from Smelling?

There are a number of steps you can take to stop your attic from smelling.

Although we’ve mentioned some of them in the course of this post, here’s a clearer rundown of what you can do to keep your attic fresh.

  • Open the windows to let fresher outdoor air into the attic, while venting out damp air. Also, turn on your attic fan and spray a freshener to make the air smell better.
  • If it’s moisture damage that may have affected exposed insulation, you’d need to tear down the installation and trash it properly. Be sure to wear protective gear all over your body if it’s fiberglass insulation. Use a dehumidifier and proper ventilation for remediation, as well as an air freshener.
  • Be sure there are no other signs of moisture or mildew to prevent mold growth. Fix any leaking pipes or roofs. You’d need to wipe off by using vinegar and a plastic container or spraying vinegar on a piece of cloth and using it instead.
  • Search for carcasses of dead animals and contact the waste authority for information on how to properly dispose of a dead animal. Dead animals can leave a pretty awful smell even after they are removed, so it will be wise to leave the vinegar in there overnight.
  • Leaving a few boxes of baking soda all night will help to absorb stubborn odors that may linger after getting rid of the source of the smell. You should replace the boxes every 90 days. 

Final Words:

To emphasize, there are a number of reasons why your attic may smell and knowing the source is the first step to choosing how to deal with it.

Whether it’s moisture, mold, dead animals, animal waste, or urine, you can save yourself some trouble if you install an attic fan. It may not get all of the smell away, but will certainly provide much-needed ventilation.

What’s more, leaving your windows open, using baking soda or vinegar, and fixing any possible leaks are some of the other things you can do to keep your attic smelling fresh.

Photo Title Buy
LEVOIT Air Purifier...image LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home & Bedroom - For Allergies and Pets Hair Check Price On Amazon
BREEZOME 60 OZ...image BREEZOME 60 OZ Quiet Dehumidifiers for Home, Dual-Semiconductor Check Price On Amazon
AquaOasis® Cool Mist...image AquaOasis™ Cool Mist Quiet Ultrasonic Humidifier for Bedroom & Large room Check Price On Amazon
43.3'' Portable Air...image 43.3'' Portable Air Conditioners, 3-IN-1 Evaporative Air Cooler w/Remote Check Price On Amazon
BlueDri BD-AS-550-BL Negative...image BlueDri BD-AS-550-BL Negative Machine Airbourne Cleaner HEPA Air Scrubber Check Price On Amazon
Space Heater,VCK 24 Space Heater, VCK 24" 12ft/s Fast Quiet Heating Portable Electric Heater Check Price On Amazon