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7 Reasons for Acetone Smell in House

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If you move into a new place and the house smells of fresh paint, there’s no reason to be alarmed. Pretty soon, the paint will dry out and, with good ventilation, the smell will go away. But, if you live in an old house, and suddenly notice an off-putting smell of acetone or nail polish remover, you have every reason to be worried. 

A bottle of acetone on a table

The reasons for having an acetone smell in the house range from the harmless to the nefarious. These reasons include gas leakage from the refrigerator or other appliances, caulk, mold, paint, electric wire issues, or sewer fumes. Some of these reasons—such as gas leakage— require immediate intervention. However, other reasons, such as fumes of paint, will dissipate on their own.

A lady with a spray can obviously smelling some unpleasant odor

So, how do you find the source for the acetone smell in the house? And, how would you fix the problem once you have found the source? Keep reading to find out how to deal with acetone smells.

Why Does My House Randomly Smell Like a Nail Polish Remover?

Whether the smell is closer to acetone or nail polish remover, you need to investigate it immediately to find out the cause. But, where would you start? Here are the usual culprits behind that unsavory smell:


A sealant gun with a canister

A freshly caulked area in your house should always be the first place to look if you notice a weird acetone smell. With a lack of ventilation, caulk and other sealants will release an acetone-like smell that can hang in the air for a while. Open a window or place a fan in that area. The smell should go away shortly after that.

Refrigerator Gas

A very nice kitchen with a sleek looking refrigerator

An acetone smell caused by your refrigerator leaking gas is a more serious matter. Refrigerators have cooling gas in the shape of a liquid called refrigerant. This refrigerant often contains acetone and, when it leaks, you need to fix the leakage as soon as possible. 


A woman disgusted by molds on a wall

Mold is a form of fungus build-up that is often triggered by moisture. The usual spots to look for mold are in the bathroom and kitchen where dampness and poor ventilation are fertile grounds for fungus to multiply. When the mold releases spores, it emits a gas that smells like nail polish remover. This should be your cue to locate and spray the mold with fungicides.

HVAC Leakage

Man fixing a split-type air conditioner

It’s not just the refrigerator that contains refrigerants with acetone. Other appliances in the house can also leak the same gas and fill your home with that smell. For example, heaters, air conditioners, and mini-split systems are a few that can experience leaks. A leakage in any of these appliances is a serious matter and you should call the technician right away to prevent any further damage.

Sewage Leakage

Man doing some plumbing

Plumbing leakage is somewhat common. Most kitchen sinks will have a wafting smell of sulfur or nail polish remover, especially at night. But, if the smell is strong and won’t go away even after opening the kitchen window and running some water in the sink, then you might have a fractured pipe. If that’s the case, it’s time to call the plumber.


Main painting a wall

Modern paints are packed with chemicals that release odors similar to nail polish remover. And, they linger in the air while the paint is still fresh. The good news is you won’t have to do anything more than increase the air circulation in the house to get rid of the smell.

Electrical Wires

Man fixing an electrical outlet

One of the trickiest sources of acetone-like odor filling up the house is electrical wires. The wires are tucked away inside of the wall and, if they heat up, the insulating cover could melt and release that noxious smell. It’s fairly expensive to fix this problem, but the good news is it’s also a very rare issue. 

How Do You Get Rid of the Smell of Acetone in Your House?

The steps you can take to eliminate the smell of acetone or nail polish remover in your house will depend on the source of the odor itself. Each one of the steps listed above requires a different solution. Also, you’ll be able to carry out some of them yourself while others will require a specialist to fix the problem. 

  • If it’s a matter of fresh paint or caulk, make sure the area is well ventilated. The smell will dissipate soon on its own.
A large open window
  • Moldy spots in the basement, kitchen, or bathroom can be treated with fungicide and better ventilation. 
A hand with a glove holding a spray bottle
  • Refrigerant leakage, whether it’s from the refrigerator or HVAC system, is a serious matter that warrants calling a technician immediately.
A technician fixing a refrigerator
  • If the smell is coming from the walls where your electrical wires are located, then you need to call the electrician. They should locate the faulty wires and replace them before they cause more damage.
A man using a multimeter to check the voltage of an electrical outlet
  • Sewage leakage, which is more than a faint smell, should be taken seriously as well. Cracked pipes will only get worse with time. So, you’d better let the plumber handle this one.
Man doing some plumbing

Does Carbon Monoxide Smell like Nail Polish?

A hand holding a bottle of pink nail polish

Nail polish and carbon monoxide are two different things. Nail polish has a distinct smell that your nose cannot mistake. In a closed environment, you can spot nail polish as soon as someone opens the bottle.

A carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide is totally different. For one thing, it’s odorless. The poisonous gas is hard to detect with the nose. That’s what makes it even more dangerous. 

Most people who suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning are not even aware of the gas filling their home. Therefore, if you smell something similar to nail polish, you’re not smelling carbon monoxide. 

Does Mold Smell Like Acetone?

Mold is a growing fungus that releases different chemicals that might smell like acetone. Recent studies identified over 200 chemicals that regular mold in your house releases often. Some of these chemicals smell like milk, gasoline, hand sanitizers, or even the smell of ripe bananas. 

A book with ketone printed on it and a bunch of lab tools

One chemical in particular called ketones has a pungent smell that resembles the odors of nail polish removers. If you find this faint smell in your house, look for mold build-up in the moist areas in the house, such as the bathroom.

Why Does My Fridge Smell Like Nail Polish Remover?

If your fridge starts to smell like nail polish remover when you get near it, there’s a good chance there’s refrigerant leakage. This liquid gas has the same smell as nail polish remover or acetone. It’s not normal for fridges to emit this odor. So, if you get a waft of acetone or nail polish remover odor, you need to find out the reason.

A refrigerator with its doors open

A nail polish remover smell near or inside the fridge doesn’t automatically mean there’s refrigerant leakage. First, check that the source of the smell isn’t a sealant tube or a nail polish remover bottle left open inside or near the fridge. If it’s not, then you should call a technician to check and fix the leakage problem. 


An acetone smell spreading across the house can have many sources. It could be the result of fresh paint or a caulked area with poor ventilation. Mold could also be the reason behind the smell; in that case, you need to eliminate the mold build-up. In addition, it could be a refrigerant leakage from the fridge or HVAC system. You should call a professional to fix a problem like that.

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