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Skunk smell...google search says it could be a refrigerant leak. Is methyl mercaptan in refrigerant?

centralMA
centralMA Member Posts: 30
EDIT: All Set. Thanks for the info everyone! Decidedly not refrigerant. No propane, weed or teenagers haha. Probably a skunk...

Skunk smell in the middle of the night. A quick google search brought up some websites saying it could be a refrigerant leak. They claim that there is methyl mercaptan in refrigerants. Anybody know if that is accurate?


All the windows were closed. This morning I walked around the house and couldn't detect a skunk smell outside. When I walked back in I definitely smelled it.
A quick google search brought up some websites saying it could be a refrigerant leak in our heat pump system. These websites claim that there is methyl mercaptan in the refrigerants.
https://www.ars.com/blog/air-conditioner-smells-bad
https://www.robyservicesnow.com/blog/why-does-my-air-conditioner-smell-strange/
It is far from clear to me if that is true. I couldn't find other evidence for it. Anybody know?
I am running a wall unit heat pump on the first floor and a ducted unit in the attic for the second floor.
It doesn't really smell like the sulfur smell of natural gas leak.
Thanks!
Maybe it is just a skunk... haha

Comments

  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 1,043
    You probably just have a skunk. I am 99% sure they don't add that to any refrigerant in the US, because it will corrode the AC system. Possibly its used in other places in the world? Possibly added for use in industrial applications? Never heard of it in residential refrigerant, though it is added to give an odor to fuel, like propane etc. Even refrigerant grade propane doesn't get this additive as it will destroy the AC system. Possibly someone else can chime in to say otherwise, I'd like to see more info if thats the case. Many outlets report incorrectly about HVAC issues so it wouldn't surprise me if they got this one wrong, especially since neither can name a single refrigerant that has this added.
    centralMA
  • yellowdog
    yellowdog Member Posts: 157
    I've never heard anyone explain the smell of methyl mercaptan as skunky. Are you sure there is not a skunk that has gotten into your attic or basement? Do you have teenage children? Could they be smoking pot somewhere in the house?
    reggiGGross
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,844
    99.9% of refrigerants are
    Odorless
    Colorless

    R-290 (Propaine)
    and
    R-717 Amonia

    You'll know.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,670
    pecmsg said:

    99.9% of refrigerants are
    Odorless
    Colorless

    R-290 (Propaine)
    and
    R-717 Amonia

    You'll know.

    I didn't think R290 intended for refrigeration use had odorant added to it?



    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,376
    If it smells like a skunk, It’s a skunk.

    There’s no mercaptan in refrigerants and it doesn’t smell like a skunk.

    It could be a combustible gas leak. Do you have natural or LP gas in your home?
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    GGross
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,670
    One morning I got up getting ready to go to work.
    The house stunk like skunk.

    From time to time, we got them hit out front but this specific morning was extra bad.
    I go out side and there's a dead skunk in the road on each side of my house. So twice the wonderful smell.

    Since the house is old and drafty, in the winter fresh air tends to be pulled into the basement and then up into the house. So any smell outside always ends up in the basement first.

    I'm not positive, but I think this reverses in the summer.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • centralMA
    centralMA Member Posts: 30
    okay, thanks y'all!
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,632
    R-12 and R-22 definitely have an odor but it is nothing like skunk.

    @ChrisJ the odor gets pulled in to your basement because the connection between the sill and the joists and rim joist and foundation is almost always very leaky except in some new houses where someone has made an effort to seal it.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,121
    Sewer smell? A dried out floor trap perhaps?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,844
    edited February 23
    ChrisJ said:
    99.9% of refrigerants are Odorless Colorless R-290 (Propaine) and R-717 Amonia You'll know.
    I didn't think R290 intended for refrigeration use had odorant added to it?
    Intended!
    Many are using the cheaper versions!
  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 1,043
    If the r290 has the smelly additive then its not r290 its just regular old propane. Part of the r290 classification is that they must not add the smelly stuff, because it will hurt the refrigeration system
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,844
    GGross said:

    If the r290 has the smelly additive then its not r290 its just regular old propane. Part of the r290 classification is that they must not add the smelly stuff, because it will hurt the refrigeration system

    BS

    It's just a cheaper supplier!

    Same as Auto R-12 is different, its moisture purity is lower, but the filter drier takes of that!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,670
    pecmsg said:
    If the r290 has the smelly additive then its not r290 its just regular old propane. Part of the r290 classification is that they must not add the smelly stuff, because it will hurt the refrigeration system
    BS It's just a cheaper supplier! Same as Auto R-12 is different, its moisture purity is lower, but the filter drier takes of that!
    You've seen actual R290 in a sealed tank have smell like bbq grade lpg?


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,844
    ChrisJ said:


    pecmsg said:

    GGross said:

    If the r290 has the smelly additive then its not r290 its just regular old propane. Part of the r290 classification is that they must not add the smelly stuff, because it will hurt the refrigeration system

    BS

    It's just a cheaper supplier!

    Same as Auto R-12 is different, its moisture purity is lower, but the filter drier takes of that!

    You've seen actual R290 in a sealed tank have smell like bbq grade lpg?




    NO

    There getting it from the local LP supplier!
    ChrisJ