Couple forced out of Salisbury home by unknown odor

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — Raymond Elliot can’t sleep in his home anymore.
A smell, and the fact that no one knows what it is or what health concerns the odor poses, forced Elliot and his wife, Dee, out of their Meadowbrook home Friday.
Elliot said he was sitting on the couch Friday watching television when he first smelled it, calling the stench “indescribable” and “pungent.”
As Elliot first detected the odor, he said he looked up to see flies on the screen door and window screens around the house.
“The odor came all at once,” Elliot said. “The storm door was covered in flies.”
Elliot said he walked outside to see if he could tell where the smell was coming from when he noticed he had left the basement door open.
“There were flies just swarming in the basement,” he said.
That was just the beginning for the Elliots, who have lived at 1203 Arden Drive since 1984.
The Elliots have called every expert they know to call, but said they can’t get answers.
“I’ve had natural gas people over here twice, two different plumbers, the Restoration Plus guy, an exterminator and my heating and air contractor came out three times,” Elliot said.
But they all told Elliot the same thing.
“Everybody tells me that it’s something they’ve never smelled before, but they can’t tell me the source of the smell,” Elliot said. “That’s where we’ve been ever since.”
The Elliots have been staying with family and friends since Friday. They stay at the house during the day, talking with experts and hoping for an answer.
For Raymond Elliot, not knowing where the smell comes from is the frustrating part.
“If you don’t know the source, you can’t treat the problem,” Elliot said.
Lime covers the basement floor where the smell is strongest. The Elliots initially put ammonia in the basement after a friend recommended it. After that didn’t work, they took out the ammonia and covered the floor with lime. But the Elliots say it’s done little to combat the gas-like odor.
In some parts of the basement, the odor can’t be smelled, Elliot said. The entrance to the basement, however, is almost breathtaking.
Elliot said the house hasn’t had any renovations or construction recently, but said a neighbor also had an odor and flies on Friday. But by Friday afternoon, Elliot said, the odor had seemingly moved to his home, where it’s stayed for the past five days.
The Elliots rely on ceiling and box fans to cool the home and help air out the odor during the day. According to Elliot, if they turn on the air conditioner, the smell circulates throughout the house.
“It’s kind of disrupted our whole lives,” Elliot said.
Elliot, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said he’s worried the smell might have some effect on his condition.
He said he’s asked everyone he knows to ask about the stench, but he’s been told the sewage, plumbing, heating and air are fine, and there are no animal remains or natural gas issues.
“There’s got to be someone out there that knows,” he said.
Contact Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.