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Discussion Starter #21 (Edited)
Use a laser thermometer and start checking outlets, devices, breakers, power cords etc. for excessive heat.

I did that last week - only thing when the AC unit was on the 240 volt breaker was reading 94 degrees - all the other breakers were around 89-92 degrees - is a few degrees difference while it was running a big concern. It seemed normal - although that was the first time I ever used a laser thermometer on a breaker box. The outside temp was around 88 - inside temp was set on 72.
 

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Maybe look at outlets that have multiple things plugged in (power strips and the like). The screws on receptacles can loosen over time and start to cook.
That's a good point, at one time it was permitted to use the devices that only required you to strip the wire and push it in to the back of the device(at least here in Florida), no set screw at all! Bad idea!! When I purchased my home I checked them all.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Maybe look at outlets that have multiple things plugged in (power strips and the like). The screws on receptacles can loosen over time and start to cook.

Only thing plugged into the outlets that are on are two alarm clocks - a couple lamps that are never on and a portable AC unit - which has never been on while I noticed the smell.

I did replace a light switch - but had noticed the smell before and after -

The switch still worked - but make a squeak sound when you turned it on.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
I looked in the AC vent - WOW there is some dusty looking stuff in there - but didn't see any holes. I also checked from the attic - with the fan running - and could not see or hear any air leaks in the duct that goes to the bedroom or anyplace else -

I do have a gas water heater in a "closet" upstairs - that small space always has a little bit of a smell - but can't detect anything out of the ordinary.
 
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Any wiring in your house should be in conduit or a box depending on code. If you have romex you may have reason for concern. Otherwise it must be an appliance, lamp, etc. This assumes it is electrical in nature which is how you described it.

Check your breaker panel/fuse box for tripped breakers/blown fuses.
Wiring does not go in conduit inside a house and everything today residential is romex.
Wtf are you talking about?
 

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After ruling out 240V appliances; heat, water heat, dryer, move on to 120V, but don’t forget 24V, transformers that run your doorbell, thermostat and alarm controllers- whether these are in use or not.
 

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Make sure you have good smoke detectors and the batteries are fresh. also good fire extinguishers. just to be safe...
 

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Don’t know how old your house is, but in the 70’s aluminum wiring was code. Over time, it can get brittle and short out. Maybe check that. Sounds like you have checked about everything else.
 
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I've had two GFI outlets go bad and it was the smell that cued me to the problem. Talked to an electrician about it and he told me they do go bad. Worth checking.
 

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For the last few weeks I had been smelling something like that in my computer room but was unable to find anything.
Last week my monitor blinked and dimmed a few times but then settled out. About 10 or 15 minutes later smoke poured from the top of the monitor and I could see fire reflecting off the top of my glass desk under the monitor.
Bless your heart shugg, the monitor was on fire.
Fire alarm didn't like it, wife didn't like it and I didn't like it.
I got it unplugged and it was so hot I had to use sheets of paper to pick it up and headed for the door where the wife had it open and I cast it into the night.
Ring doorbell caught everything, the kids also can see my ring pics.
They have laughed the whole week.
 

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You need a Thermal Imaging camera . Electricians and Home Inspectors use them or you can rent one . You'll probably find all sorts of issues that need addressing .
 

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I do have a gas water heater in a "closet" upstairs - that small space always has a little bit of a smell - but can't detect anything out of the ordinary.
Though this may not be your phantom smell, you may have inadequate combustion air. If I remember correctly, code calls for a couple of 4" air ducts from above, if above is available. One duct a foot above the floor and a duct one foot from the ceiling. If this isn't doable I would at least put an air grill on the door about at the height of the flame source in the water heater to allow adequate combustion air.

I would also make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Even though carbon monoxide is odorless, that doesn't mean an odor can't precede a carbon monoxide problem.
 

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I smelled something electrical a few months back. Turned out it was the doorbell transformer in the basement. The thing just got very hot for some reason. I disconnected it and now use a wireless doorbell.
 

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Check your insurance policy and make sure you are fully covered dwelling and contents.....other that that I got nothing.

PS... might consider adding all those guns you thought you lost in that boating accident.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Though this may not be your phantom smell, you may have inadequate combustion air. If I remember correctly, code calls for a couple of 4" air ducts from above, if above is available. One duct a foot above the floor and a duct one foot from the ceiling. If this isn't doable I would at least put an air grill on the door about at the height of the flame source in the water heater to allow adequate combustion air.

I would also make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Even though carbon monoxide is odorless, that doesn't mean an odor can't precede a carbon monoxide problem.
I have the two vents - I think the hot air escapes out of the ceiling vent and then fresh cool are is drawn in from the vent that extends down to the floor. I was just up in the attic and can see both vents to the water heater are open - I do recall many years ago some insulation covered one of the vents -

I have a carbon monoxide sensor 5 feet from the water heater - a foot above the floor - and a second carbon monoxide sensor on the ceiling 3 feet from the water heater.
 

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Wiring does not go in conduit inside a house and everything today residential is romex.
Wtf are you talking about?
I guess they did my house all wrong then. I'm pretty sure romex is against code here but I didn't verify so I could be mistaken.

edit-Apparently some unincorporated areas in IL allow it but most if not all cities and villages do not. Thanks for the condescending tone and incorrect info though.
 

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You need a Thermal Imaging camera . Electricians and Home Inspectors use them or you can rent one . You'll probably find all sorts of issues that need addressing .
I came here to post the same thing. Point one of these things at your walls/devices and look for some hot spots.
 
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