I should backtrack a bit.
When we first met with Bob, our belief was that the house needed a lot of work, but was essentially sound. The home inspector we had hired (after making our offer) had identified three areas that presented problems: venting of the hot water heater needed to be fixed, the electrical panel needed to be upgraded, and he thought there was a sewer venting issue because of a smell he encountered in the basement.
The first problem was fairly straightforward. We decided on a new electric hot water heater and the plumber installed it.
The second problem was also fairly straightforward. The electrician upgraded the electrical panel.
The third problem was elusive. The plumber hired by the seller before the closing expressed an opinion that the smell was probably the result of dead rodents in the walls of the basement.
But after we began staying in the house, the smell kept returning, inconsistently; wafting through spaces, eluding us.
(Because one cannot photograph an unpleasant odor, I’m including a pleasant photo of the ocean at Ipswich; which is why we came here, really. Photo credit: John, on one of his sunrise bike rides to Crane Beach.)
At first we thought it was the smell of old carpet. So we kept removing carpet. But the smell remained; permeating every moment, even sleep.
Then we realized that the smell was at its worst in the kitchen.
John was also perplexed because he could not figure out the kitchen plumbing. Whence came those pipes? Where did they originate? Where exactly were they? They weren’t in the basement.
He began to investigate.
He realized all the pipework must be under the floor in an inaccessible crawlspace. So after tearing out the cabinets, he pulled up some kitchen floor boards and made an amazing discovery.