Friday, August 6th by Kristina McGovern
Identify the cause behind your musty-smelling basement and find out what you can do to eliminate the foul odors for good.
Most musty basement smells are a symptom of a mold or mildew problem caused by excessive moisture.
That unmistakable musty smell, often described as being similar to that of a pair of wet socks or a wet dog, is the signature scent of mold and/or mildew. Most basements are damp and dark - ideal conditions for these fungi to thrive. Not only can their musty odor make its way up into the rest of your home, but mold spores can also cause allergy symptoms and structural problems.
If your basement smells musty after rain, when the weather is humid, or all the time, simply removing the odor won’t eliminate the problem. The first step to getting rid of the musty smell in your basement is identifying the source. Most of the time, the smell is a symptom of a mold or mildew problem caused by moisture. This guide will help you identify what’s making your basement smell musty and outline solutions for getting rid of the odors for good.
Two common problems in a basement are condensation and water leaks. Depending on the source, some problems can be easily handled by a savvy homeowner while others require hiring a professional.
Condensation on uninsulated pipes is a common source of basement moisture.
Start by checking for these common causes of moisture in the basement and consider installing a dehumidifier to keep the moisture level in check (read more on this below):
You have probably noticed that your basement tends to be cooler than the upper levels of your home during the warmer months. It might not seem like a cool basement is a bad thing, but when warmer air from upstairs meets the cooler air in the basement, it condenses on cold surfaces, including basement walls, furniture, and water pipes. This condensation contributes to odor-producing mold and mildew.
A SaniDry Sedona self-draining dehumidifier can keep basement humidity under control.
Moisture from the soil can also seep into the basement through the foundation, increasing the basement’s humidity level even further.
If water leaks and drainage issues have been repaired and you still notice a musty smell, consider installing a basement dehumidifier to control moisture and make the air feel more comfortable. Humidity levels should be kept between 45-55% to prevent mold and mildew growth.
If the foul smell in your home wasn’t bad enough, mold and mildew can stain your walls, floors, and ceilings; decay wood studs and drywall; and damage carpets. Mold exposure can cause health effects, including a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, wheezing, burning eyes, or a skin rash - with more severe reactions reported in people with a mold allergy or asthma (Centers for Disease Control).
Once water leaks have been fixed and the humidity level in your basement is under control, mold and mildew stains should be cleaned up. If your moldy basement still has moisture issues, consider hiring a Basement Systems contractor to fix your waterproofing issues and treat mold stains at the same time. It should be noted that cleanup of moldy areas larger than 10-square-feet (about a 3-foot by 3-foot patch) should be handled by a professional experienced in mold remediation (United States Environmental Protection Agency).
Follow these tips for thorough mold cleanup and prevention:
To help you identify if a basement water problem is the culprit or schedule a no-obligation evaluation and basement waterproofing cost estimate with the Basement Systems contractor near you.
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