What’s that smell???

You’ve done your spring cleaning, summer cleaning, endless weekend cleaning and STILL can’t figure out where that awful smell is coming from? Before you start demolition or call an exorcist, check these little known areas first.

Foul odor?

Sink and showers drain traps can hold a secret treasure chest of odoriferous hair and muck, that if left sitting around, can send you running from your home. Some drain cleaners can cause damage to your pipes, porcelain, and fixtures. Before you try clearing it yourself, check the label. Replacing a P-trap is a simple task for a professional and is the best way to ensure those smells are gone for good.  

Sewage odor?

Time to get down and give the base of the loo a sniff. Toilets that haven’t been properly caulked are hiding the bacteria. Give it a nudge. Loose toilets often have broken wax seals, which mean those toxic sewer odors are making their way into your living space. If your commode is the culprit, it’s plumber time. Simply giving the base a spritz of cleaner and caulking isn’t going to rid the area of bacteria. A qualified plumber can remove the toilet, evaluate the subfloor, clean those hard to reach areas, replace the wax seal, and caulk the base.

Musty odor?

Mold and mildew are attracted to areas with moisture and little ventilation. Water can penetrate loose tiles or uncaulked backsplashes and wreak havoc in your walls. Damp flooring is a prime spot for mold growth. A leak under the toilet can rot the subfloor, joist, and extend up onto the wall frame and also grow mold or mildew standard drywall. Moist basements and poorly ventilated attic space are a wonderland for mold and mildew. If you suspect your house is under attack, call a mold remediation specialist. Never attempt clean up yourself. Some molds are highly toxic.   

Remember, if you ever smell a distinctive rotten egg odor near gas appliances ~ run! Seriously, leave the house and call your local gas company to investigate (normally, free of charge). Natural gas leaks are dangerous and deadly.  

Four Corners Home Inspection, Middleton, WI

Misty Russell



Summer’s here and you’re ready to spend time in sun, but is your house?

Now that you’re a homeowner, the inspection torch has been passed on to you

Siding, Trim, and Decks

Check for peeling paint. A solid coat of paint is your home’s first line of defense against moisture and rot. Making sure your home is protected from the elements will save you big $$ in the future.

Look for signs of decay in wood siding, trim, decks, and windows. Probe exterior wood with your finger or an awl—rot can be hiding in plain sight. If you find soft or spongy areas, call a professional and get it checked. The decay may extend deeper than you may realize and could be seriously damaging the structure.

Examine your caulking and siding seems. Missing or shrunken caulking can lead to moisture penetration and hidden dry rot.


Tree and bush growth in the spring could have left them dangerously close to your home. Tree limbs could fall during a storm and lead to costly repairs. Bushes can sprout up underneath your siding or tap moisture against your siding. A good rule is to leave three feet of space around your home when planting and trimming bushes.

Check your watering system for broken or misaligned sprinkler heads. Walk around and feel for soggy areas in your yard. This can indicate a broken water supply line.

Monitor water drainage and clear your gutters. Water pooling near your foundation indicates you have negative flow. Water not draining away from your home has the potential to enter your basement or crawlspace and disrupt your foundation.

Crawl Spaces and Attic

Time to head into the attic. How hot is it up there? The temperature in the attic should be comparable to the temperature outside. Proper ventilation is the key to a happy home. Can you see sunlight near venting? If you don’t, I could be a sign that your insulation has settled over soffit vents, blocking airflow. Suspect a problem? Call a professional to investigate. Poor ventilation is a major cause of roofing deterioration and raise your cooling energy bill.

Using a flashlight, check condensation and mold/mildew growth on roofing structure, decking, insulation, and floor joists (in a crawl space). Whether from poor ventilation or water intrusion, moisture damage is like cancer. It’s best to catch it early. No one wants to spend their savings on costly repairs instead of that much need vacation.

Like it or not, every home has bugs. A spider here and there is normal, but there are damaging insects you should look out for. Termites, carpenter ants, and powderpost beetles can destroy your wood structure. Look for holes, worm-like tunnels, piles that resemble sawdust, and termite tunnels in crawl spaces and near your foundation. If there is any signs of invasion, call an exterminator ASAP.

Birds and rodents can’t read, so simply posting a “keep out” sign isn’t going to stop them from making themselves at home with you. Look for droppings in attics and crawl spaces. Any holes on siding or loose venting is an invitation to move it. Rodents and birds cause structure and moisture damage. If they made it in, water is sure to follow. Call an exterminator if you suspect you’re not alone. Simply covering holes can trap the critters, which will lead to more damage as they try to chew, claw, or peck their way out.

If you are uncomfortable performing any of these tasks, home inspectors are often available for consultation on a hourly rate.

Now that you have checked this all out, you and your home can relax and enjoy the Summer!

Four Corners Home Inspection, Madison, WI

Misty Russell