Ash Smell

I have been smelling ash in my apartment for several months. Because I caught a cold and didn’t shake it for about 6 weeks, I ignored the problem because I thought it was me. Since then, my cold is gone, smell is worse, the fire department(checked for carbon monoxide) and building manager cannot smell or find any problems.

My apartment is above the furnace/ hot water tank room. Building was built as condos in the 70’s. The heat is radiated and obviously not on now. The cooking stoves in the building are all electric and the hot water tank is about 1 1/2 -2 years old.

I live on the first level and on a suburban main street. Although, my windows do not face the street, the driveway to enter parking is on the side of the bath and bedroom. The roof on the other side of the driveway was just replaced but no heating was necessary.

This problem has been around for quite awhile (more than 6 months) but I didn’t recognize there was a problem until I caught the cold.

I have always had white dust in my apartment but I always thought it was due to the proximity to the street. I have lived here for about 9 years. I cannot use the a/c because previous tenant had cats and the a/c still had cat dander. It needs to be replaced but I cannot afford. My windows are open 365 days a year.

Because I am home more often lately, the problem is wiping me out. I can’t concentrate, I have dry ears on outside but extra wax inside, eyes go from watery to burning, wake at night because I am choking with a dry cough, clay-like feeling on skin, chemical taste in mouth, headaches, short-term memory problems, light-headed, coughing that is so hard that it hurts my ribs, vomiting of phlegm, dryness in throat, lack of appetite but gaining weight, and the worst part is the ASH smell.

I just returned from a work trip which took me away for 4 days. The hotel had a/c but I worked in a non-a/c building during this time. My symptoms diminished the longer that I was away. Now that I am back, all the symptoms have returned. The Ash smell continues.

I don’t know where else to go for answers. Please help me find an answer or somewhere to start to look for answers. This environment is taking a toll on my health but I have no where else to go.

Please help…

If nobody else but you smells it,going on any forums will not help you.
The Fire Department rep most likely would have checked the flue for cracks if he made a special trip out.

Got pictures of the Furnace room?

The symptoms you describe are similar to those found in homes with a mold problem. Some people will poo poo the idea but at the same time cannot explain the symptoms any other way. Since money sounds like it may be an issue, try a “do it yourself” mold test found at hardware stores or on the internet. (ProLab item MO109) If you can afford a full fledged mold test, that would be the direction I would try.

If you post what area you live in, you might get more specific answers.

Good luck.

The fire department only checked for carbon monoxide with a meter. The only thing they touched was the hot water tank, they opened the valve to see if it produced any carbon monoxide. No other testing from them.

I live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

I know it’s not my imagination because I was up all night again last night. My throat is so dry that breathing is difficult. The headaches and dizziness are worst now. I also keep smelling a waxy smell with the ash. Unfortunately, my neighbor to one side is quite a distance away and the other side has a neighbor who has moved to a nursing home so no one is home to ask. I am the only one directly above the furnace room, more to the point, my bedroom is directly over the furnace room.

With the mold test, do I test the basement as well? Where should I test?

What town do you live in?

Let me know where you live, you don’t need to give me the exact address, so if you live at 1802 main st apt. 3. you can just say the 1800 block of main st. and the town.

If you are closer to the city you can contact me through my web sites.

Stephens suggestion on getting a mold test is a good one. It’s possible that the vacant neighbors apartment is the culprit, and a mold test will give you a clue as to if that might be an issue. If it is, call one of the InterNACHI inspectors in your area for a comprehensive mold test/inspection.

Also, you should have your ducts cleaned for the cat dander issue. That is much cheaper and more appropriate than having the AC replaced, and may actually solve your problems. Once you can turn on your air, and close up the windows, it could improve your air quality, especially if you have a slight moisture/humidity problem.