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Smelly Closet

Hi, We own a house that was built around 1820. There is a closet upstairs that smells very bad. Both the wood shelves and the plaster walls seem to smell. When we moved in I painted over all the surfaces. I can't remember if I used a primer first. There had been old liner paper on all the wood that I removed first. Anyways, it still smells very bad. It makes the towels and blankets smell the same way. My husband thinks it smells like an animal died in there. Could it be that just the wood or plaster are old and are causing it to smell (didn't they even put horse hair in the plaster?) or is it more likely that something died in there. Either way, is there anyway to seal it with something? I read on a website that people use shellac. I would greatly appreciate any advise. Thanks

Re: Smelly Closet

It could be that there is something dead behind the walls or above the ceiling. If the smell is that bad I suspect that whatever is dead is relatively recently and will continue to smell until all the moisture within it has evaporated.

Trying to seal the smell in might work if you can get every nook and cranny, that means even behind the baseboards. I might be tempted to try something like an elastomeric coating - this is typically used on exterior masonry to block water penetration- take a look here: http://www.dowcorning.com/content/construction/weather/allguard.asp

Both Lowes and Home Depot carry this stuff and it's usually in the aisle with the roofing/drivesealer.

Re: Smelly Closet

Thank you both for your reply!!!! I just took everything out of the closet and also noticed that there are a lot of gaps in the walls and floor. My husband says he can put some kind of foam stuff in the cracks. Then maybe we'll cover it with either the elastomeric coating or the Bin primer sealer shellac. I've also foundn out that the closet is right up next to the stack that vents out the furnace. We have oil powered steam heat and hot water. The smell is hard to describe. I never thought it smelled like something died. Maybe more like a fermented smell. Thanks again!

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