Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What is that smell?

My wife loves to take the hottest showers.  Sometimes, the water is so hot, her skin turns red making her look like a freshly cooked lobster.  Our lovely home did not come with a bathroom vent, aside from the window.  And since the weather in New England is starting to drop, that window "vent" is shut.  So it was likely, I suppose, that I assumed that when a rancid smell in the bathroom became noticeable, that it was due to mold.

The bathroom vanity counter is made out of a particle board laminated with, well, I don't know what it is really, but some sort of decorative laminate.  The sink is not sealed to the counter, in fact, if it weren't for gravity, it would float away.  Likewise, I also thought that with the excessive humidity, combined with water splashed from brushing our teeth and washing our hands, that the lousy particle board counter was beginning to rot.  Looking under the counter, I could see dark areas of prior water staining around the faucet (which does leak).

I started making plans to install a vent, as well as planing to post it's installation in here.  I began talking to the guys at work, getting ideas and taking measurements.  I began to also stress about poking a hole through my 250 year old roof....

Yet, each passing day, the smell grew.  It wasn't so obvious at first, but was growing exponentially.  The bathroom is next to our bedroom and after the second week the smell began to seep into our living quarters.  I began to worry that I had a major problem.

Much to my wife's chagrin, last Saturday evening, while we had guests due to arrive, I decided to source the root cause of the smell, hoping to find a patch of mold that I can easily eradicate with my top secret bleach/water formula.  I went to the bathroom, and became a blood hound.  I followed the smell... not the shower.... not the baseboard... not the toilet.  Vanity.  I opened the doors... a breeze of rancid air filled the bathroom.  This is one hell of a mold spore.  I took everything out of the vanity but couldn't find the mold.  The bottom of the vanity has tongue and groove boards, like they were recycled from an old flooring project.  Took them out.  Whoa... now it's stronger. 

In the back of the vanity, where the drain pipe leads into the false floor was a paper bag, with red writing on it.  The corner of the bag was torn off and a white powder was around it.  I saw it before, but since it looks like a coco bag, thought, well, the previous owner may of been a bit eccentric... drinking coco in the bathroom... geez.  Anyway, I took out the bag, read the bold red lettering.  POISON!  DO NOT EAT!  Maybe it's not coco.

Just below the entry into the false floor, where the poison pouch was, was a screwed hatch.  Curiosity held me captivated.  I unscrewed it... and... well I found the source of the rancid, putrid smell.  A fuzzy, brown mouse.  Well, to be more precise, a dead mouse.  For the next half hour, I wore a mask, grabbed my needle nose pliers, removed the carcass, vacuumed the mouse's former home, sprayed as much ammonia based cleaner as I could, dumped the carcass and vacuumed derbies as well as the paper towels used to clean the cavity into a doubled plastic bag. 

On my way down the stairs, wearing my mask, carrying my fresh carcass, I ran into our guests, made the very quick greeting and continued on to the trash bin.

Thanks to the former owner for this wonderful surprise.

PS, what cat owner leaves rat poison within their cats reach and also within the same reach as your buyer's cat.  I am quite offended by her carelessness.