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Thread: Skunk in furnace?

  1. #1
    Administrator Sandra's Avatar
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    Default Skunk in furnace?

    Anyone know what can cause a skunk like odor to emit from the furnace? I know it's not the filter, that was taken care of a few weeks before the odor started showing up.

    I seem to only smell it when the furnace is on or right after it has been on, and most notably if the furnace is set above 66 or 67 degrees. If the furnace isn't on or is set at a lower temp, then I don't seem to smell it.

    The smell emits from the vents in the kitchen, livingroom, bathroom, and at least one of the bedrooms.

    I thought maybe a skunk had gotten into the basement where the furnace is, so I sniffed around the basement and furnace area - didn't smell a thing. The odor seems to be coming only through the vents.

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
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    Default Danger !

    I just logged in for the first time in a few days and I saw this post. This smell could very well be a gas leak ! Please call someone with your local gas company to come over. I hope everything is Ok !

  3. #3
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    If its not that maybe it's a dead mouse. I had a dead mouse in my place once it smelled like a gas leak! p.u.!

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    Forum Royalty large's Avatar
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    The "Skunk-like" smell could be CO from a cracked Heat exchanger . . you should have a qualified HVAC Dude come and check it . . Quickly . .

    It could also be mold or fungi in the ductwork . .

    A gas leak will smell like rotten eggs or last year's Democrat . .
    "A man with a firearm is a citizen... a man without one is a subject"

  5. #5
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    Default More info for you

    Defensive Secretion of Skunks

    Dateline: 05/10/99

    By Alan Bruzel

    There are many skunkish substances; not all of them are found in skunks. Chemically, these odiferous materials are predominately low molecular weight organic compounds containing sulfur. They are discernible in minute amounts by the human olfactory apparatus. One such compound, ethanethiol (also called ethyl mercaptan), when added to natural gas (which is odorless), provides an instant warning of a gas leak. The smell of ethanethiol is detectable at a concentration of about 20 parts per trillion in air. Natural gas provided by the local utility contains an odorant such as ethanethiol at a much higher concentration (in the parts per million range), so that even a million-fold dilution of the treated gas with air yields an odorant concentration near the threshold of detection. Other odorizing chemicals added to natural gas include 2-butanethiol, 2-methyl-2-propanethiol, 2-propanethiol, 2,2'-thiobis-propane, 1,1'-thiobisethane, and thiacyclopentane: all sulfur-containing organic compounds.



    Ethanethiol
    Used as odorant in
    commercial natural gas.

    1-Butanethiol
    Skunk-like odor, but
    not detected in skunk
    defensive spray.
    1-Butanethiol closely mimics the smell of skunks and was considered the compound present in skunk anal sacs (the contents of which may be sprayed a distance of several meters). Further investigation of skunk spray revealed several compounds related to 1-butanethiol, but not 1-butanethiol, itself. (1-Butanethiol does occur naturally in bitumen.) It appears that these closely related butyl mercaptan derivatives could almost be used as a means of distinguishing different skunk species. For example, the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) produces both (E)-2-buten-1-thiol and 3-methyl-1-butanethiol, along with the thioacetates of each of these compounds. The spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis) produces the two thiols, but not their thioacetate derivatives, and the hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus mesoleucus) synthesizes (E)-2-buten-1-thiol and (E)-2-butenyl thioacetate, but neither 3-methyl-1-butanethiol nor 3-methylbutanyl thioacetate. In the three species examined, these thiols and thioacetates may comprise up to 90% of the animal's defensive secretion.



    (E)-2-Buten-1-thiol
    (R = H)

    (E)-2-Butenyl thioacetate
    (R = COCH3)

    3-Methyl-1-butanethiol
    (R = H)

    3-Methylbutanyl thioacetate
    (R = COCH3)
    Although skunk scent is perceptible at a concentration of 10 parts of scent per billion parts of air, the skunk's strategy is, apparently, chemical aggression, not a simple warning message wafted to would-be assailants. The ejected defensive secretion causes retching and nausea, driving away (or at least discomfiting) potential predators. The best means of removing the pervasive smell is to oxidize the thiols to the less odorous sulfonic acids using hydrogen peroxide (for humans and pets) or bleach (for everything else).

    Recommended Web resources for additional information:

    Determination of Odorant Compounds in Bitumen Vapors
    1998 abstract from the 13th Congress of the European Chemoreception Research Organization.

    Mustelidae
    Family of carnivores including ferrets, otters, skunks, and weasels. From the University of Michigan.

    Natural Gas Odorizing Chemicals
    Mercaptan warning agents from Occidental Petroleum Corporation.

  6. #6
    Forum Royalty large's Avatar
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    I just wanted to know what time it was . .
    "A man with a firearm is a citizen... a man without one is a subject"

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    Administrator Sandra's Avatar
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    Thanks for all that good advice!

    Um, about the skunk odor - I have a sensitive nose, but not sensitive enough to tell which kind of skunk it is by the smell. I wonder, what if a striped skunk and a spotted skunk have babies, what kind of chemical makeup would the scent of their offspring have?

    Large, did you remember to turn your clock back? lol...

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    Administrator Sandra's Avatar
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    The smell seems to be going away on it's own....I hope that's a good thing!

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    Forum Royalty large's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandra View Post
    Thanks for all that good advice!

    Large, did you remember to turn your clock back? lol...
    Hmm, went over your head, did it? . .

    I was referring to the chemisry lesson . . kinda like the guy who asked what time it was . . and the other guy tells him how to build a watch . .

    Another thing that might cause the smell could be a tomcat peeing on or around the makeup air inlet outside the building . . It's a skunky kind of musk that can smell a lot like skunk . .
    "A man with a firearm is a citizen... a man without one is a subject"

  10. #10
    Administrator Sandra's Avatar
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    It didn't go over my head, you mentioned time and while I understood what you were getting at, it also made me think about clocks and how it was time to turn the clocks back.

    That's just how my mind works.

    Interesting that you should mention a tom cat - there are a couple of feral ones who hang out around my house and the house next door - they're very good mousers so I don't complain about them. I'd be willing to bet that you're right and that's what I'm smelling. It's so faint now that I can't even really smell it any more. Except for a slight whiff late yesterday afternoon.

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