This has happened a few times since I moved into my current house about a year ago; every once in a while, I'll get a faint, brief whiff of rotten egg smell that I am unable to locate. Then, after a few minutes it will be gone and not be smelled again for months.

Today it happened again so I went around sniffing everything to try my best to find the source, trying all the typical emitters. I turned on the hot water and sniffed all the faucets; nothing. I sniffed the sink bowls and the toilets; nothing. I sniffed all the gas appliances as well as the walls where the gas lines drop down from the attic; nothing. And then it was gone again.

Am I going crazy from hydrogen sulfide poisoning? What are some other potential sources I might have missed? Is this the precursor to some gas or plumbing problem that's about to become really really expensive?

  • Any pets? How close are neighbors?
    – Freiheit
    Jan 31, 2015 at 3:00
  • One dog, one non-potty-trained kid :). Neighboring houses are about 30 feet away.
    – iLikeDirt
    Jan 31, 2015 at 3:35
  • 2
    Do you have a gas stove? Residential gas has a 'rotten egg' smell added to it so you can smell a leak.
    – DA01
    Jan 31, 2015 at 4:13
  • Garbage cans? Decaying chunk of broccoli under the fridge? Dirty diaper on the baby? Dog farted? Pretty hard to tell. Jan 31, 2015 at 4:39
  • 2
    You may be having olfactory fatigue and unable to smell it (interesting tip from wikipedia: coffee beans can apparently "reset olfaction" -- which may help you track things down). However, gas is a definite possibility. If I were you, I would call your gas company to get them to come check things out -- they likely have an emergency number for this (free) service. If nothing else, you eliminate one possibility and get to sleep better knowing you're not in imminent mortal danger.
    – gregmac
    Jan 31, 2015 at 5:32

3 Answers 3


Think I found it, this time, at least. Turned out to be some rotten, moldy food that managed to get hidden away in the back of an infrequently-used pantry.


In certain areas the water, well water in our case, will have that smell. It is corrected by a water conditioner.

  • Pretty sure it's not the water. Our water is municipal and doesn't smell at all.
    – iLikeDirt
    Jan 31, 2015 at 16:58
  • Well water is the only time I had heard of this type of issue, I have never heard of that with city water. The answer you had before mine, I did not take the time to see it was your answer. Another "duh" moment for me...
    – Jack
    Jan 31, 2015 at 21:00

Could be drywall itself. How old is the house? Wallboard contaminated with sulfur compounds was epidemic a few years ago.

Another occasional source: lead-acid batteries, including sealed batteries, which may be found as backups for garage door openers, alarms, or computer systems.

  • Built in 1972. Don't think it's crappy Chinese drywall. No lead-acid batteries lying around.
    – iLikeDirt
    Feb 2, 2015 at 23:14

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