We have a bad smell in our living room that is much worse in the morning when we open the door, presumably because it has been shut in overnight. The smell never seems to travel to the adjacent hall and there are no other adjoining rooms except two bedrooms above (smell free). We have no chimney and it is a 70's house so not hugely old. The room is wall to wall 80/20 wool carpet that we had fitted when we moved in about 9 months ago.

We did not smell this before the carpets but we were busy painting and glossing which are pretty strong odours and the room was well ventilated for this reason. We had the same carpet and underlay put in our bedroom and we have never had a bad smell here. We have only ever had very minor spills in this room that have always been cleaned up immediately. It does not smell like a decaying animal to me, and I have been good at detecting "presents" from previous cats. I cannot detect the exact source or area by sniffing but it doesn't seem to be our furniture.

  • Was the paint bought recently, or was it old opened paint? May 30, 2016 at 19:03
  • The paint was a fresh mixed colour bought the day before we began decorating...
    – Enigma
    May 31, 2016 at 12:08
  • One of those things you spilled wouldn't happen to be milk, would it? If it was, the carpet's done.
    – Mazura
    Jul 30, 2016 at 0:33

2 Answers 2


Try covering the carpet with a sheet of plastic, and see if the smell gets better above and worse below it. Make sure it's a continuous sheet, not a woven plastic tarp. Use one of a reasonable thickness, as polyethylene (the material almost always used for these) passes vapors surprisingly easily.

Put down the plastic in the evening. The next morning, go in and exercise your sniffer; is the smell in the room better? Then lift a corner of the sheet and sniff the carpet: is it worse?

If so, then you might even be able to localize the smell further by sniffing at various points in the carpet as you roll up the plastic.

  • 1
    Good idea, I'll give the plastic a go, it may at least tell us if the smell is emanating from floor level...
    – Enigma
    May 31, 2016 at 12:12

If the house is that old chances are some water is getting under the rug some how.

In my home we had a similar problem with water getting in from under the planks beneath the storm door and causing our hardwood to warp. If pressed that's where I'd start.

  • No sign of any damp anywhere now or when all carpets and underlay were pulled up for decorating... A cursory check of the outside shows no obvious culprits for a damp source.
    – Enigma
    May 31, 2016 at 12:11

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