Other Basement Smell Contributors
With mold and mildew forming the majority of a basement’s musty smell, other causes can round off the smell and give it that singular odor:
- Damp Materials: Drywall, fiberglass and rockwool insulation, and especially wood in all forms can add to a basement’s musty smell when wet and not allowed to properly dry out.
- Sewage: Sewage lines typically run through the basement before continuing outside. Sewage problems can range from improperly fitted pipes that emit odors to liquid sewage spills from pipes.
- Animal Waste: Rodent droppings look like dark grains of rice and can contribute to the sour smell in a basement. Not only that, rodent feces can spread diseases such as hantavirus and salmonella.
- Iron Ochre or Iron Bacteria: Iron ochre looks like slimy mud. In fact, this vibrant red-brown wet material is a bacteria that feeds off of iron and adds a rotten-egg smell to the basement.
Types Of Basement Mold
Various types of mold will infest your basement. While they are all hideous, not all of them are toxic to humans.
Molds can be divided into two categories:
Allergenic molds usually pose no health risk unless you are extremely sensitive to molds or asthmatic. Black molds, on the other hand, produce a toxic chemical called mycotoxins and are particularly harmful to humans and pets.
Here are the common types of molds that can infest your basement.
Aspergillus is one of the most common household mold species. There are different types of Aspergillus, and most of them thrive well indoors. Some of the Aspergillus molds are allergenic, but some are mycotoxin and should be removed by a specialist, especially if it is something like black mold.
This fungus is dark green and found on damp walls, ceilings, and even furniture. It flourishes in humid environments, but can also grow in areas that are dry with high levels of humidity or condensation.
What To Do If You Have Mold In Your Basement
If you need to remove mold in your basement, we recommend that you take extra precautions. You want to not only avoid contaminating your home but also protect yourself.;
Breathing high concentrations of spores and volatile organic compounds can be dangerous. To keep yourself safe and protected when dealing with mold, keep the following points in mind:
What To Do:
- Wear old clothing or shoes you can launder or throw after cleaning.
- Wear N-95 or P-100 respirator masks, goggles, and gloves.;
- Set an electric fan or air purifier with a clean HEPA filter to ventilate and clean the surrounding air while removing the mold.;
- Wrap any mold-infested items with a 6-mil plastic and double-bag and throw them away immediately.;
- Moisten moldy areas with a garden sprayer to control airborne spores.;
- Turn off your HVAC system and cover ductwork and doors to prevent spores from spreading.;
What Not To Do:
- Do not handle mold directly.;
- Avoid working in an enclosed area without ventilation.;
- Never directly inhale mold.;
- Avoid using a wet vacuum cleaner as it can absorb spores.;
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Absorb Moisture With Baking Soda
Baking soda is helpful in many other ways due to its absorbent properties. If you cant remove carpeting without ripping and ruining it, baking soda in the carpets absorbs unwanted moisture and makes them a less likely area to harbor spores.
Walk around the carpeted area, slowly sprinkling baking soda back and forth. Leave it for at least a day, allowing it to soak up most of the moisture in the carpeting. Afterward, use a vacuum to suck it all up and the unwanted dampness with it.
What Causes A Musty Smell In A House
As we have discussed previously, mildew/mold presence in a home is not the sole culprit behind the unwanted odor of musty smell in this environment as there are many other causes that can be producing this odor in the air. Some of the most common causes of a musty smell in a home will include the following;
Along with these sources of musty odors, the smell can also form inside certain areas of your home from specific causes in these small spaces. Below we are going to learn more about why musty smell develops in ac units, bathrooms, and basements.
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Metazene Odor Neutralizing Surface And Wall Spray
Available in a gallons and transferred to quart-sized sprayers with a fresh mint scent, our oil-based Metazene Wall Spray works effective and different than standard water-based deodorizer products, which utilize perfume and water and rely on enzymes to eliminate odors. When our Wall Spray is applied regularly to surfaces as needed, being sure to test any painted, varnished or plastic materials prior to application, odors are effectively neutralized.
Metazene Wall Spray, with industrial science and technology, attacks and destroys malodors at their molecular level. This is a far more permanent solution that most retail products, which at best only serves to temporarily mask bad smells.
Metazene Wall Spray creates a neutralizing atmosphere because the foul smelling molecules attach themselves to the Metazene particles, which trap and lock in malodors.
So what are you waiting for?! Follow the above steps, order our and finally make your basement smell fresh again and eliminate musty odors once and for all!
Final thoughts about basement odors: If something bad smells in the basement, it will eventually make its way to the attic. ~ Anthony Liccione.
Wash Furniture And Covers
Wash any furniture and pillow covers in your basement on your laundrys hottest setting with a powerful detergent to kill anything that might be growing on them.
These quick fixes will remove the smell but will not remove mold, so do not practice these tips without your end goal being total mold removal and remediation.
Read Also: How To Check For Mold In The Air
Inspect Your Basement For Leaks
Finding the mold or mildew source is crucial if you want to remove that unpleasant smell from your basement. Leaks tend to be the primary suspect of any foul smells in your home, so its vital to fix them as soon as possible. Not only will it make your home smell better, but it can also protect your property from water damage further down the line.
If your basement has exposed pipes running on the ceiling, you can start by covering them with foam insulation. You can find the foam covers at any general home improvement store, and theyre usually affordable. The insulation will absorb any sweating pipes and prevent the moisture from spreading throughout your basement.
However, you should call a plumber if the pipes are leaking heavily.
You Have Mildew Or Worse Black Mold
Ok, so lets start with clarifying the difference between mildew and mold.
Mildew is actually a form of mold. Without getting too deep into the differences, at a high-level, mold is generally more dangerous to your health and mildew is more of a cosmetic problem.
But both can cause your basement to smell musty and need to be removed.
And in this article when we refer to mold or mildew, it could be either.
Now lets get back to how to remove them.
Do you see black, white or green patches growing on the floor, walls or ceiling?
Well, its established that you are dealing with mold.
But what we do not know is how severe the infestation is.
Whats visible might be the tip of the iceberg. Mold likes to hide in places that are oblivious to sight, like tiny crevices in the wall or in your carpet.
If you are lucky, its just the circulation of warm air in the house thats causing condensation on the walls in the basement resulting in an increase in moisture.
But if thats not the cause, then you have to play detective and rule out all possible causes one at a time.
A crack in the foundation wall, a window seal thats broken, a leaky pipe or even a laundry vent thats fractured. ;The source of the moisture can be anywhere.
Most types of household mold can be eliminated by yourself with some patience, some elbow grease and some basic tools that can be found around home.
But first, we need to be aware of what we are up against.
Check Pipes For Leaks or Condensation
Also Check: How Do You Get Tested For Mold Toxicity
How To Find Where A Musty Smell Is Coming From In My Basement
Limit a musty odor by setting up a dehumidifier in the basement.
Open windows and doors on dry warm or hot days to increase airflow and dry the basement.
Wear safety glasses, rubber gloves and a respirator when removing mold.
Opening the basement door and smelling a musty odor is not pleasant. Many homeowners choose to turn the basement into usable living space. A basement with a musty odor is not a place where a homeowner wants to entertain, relax or make a playroom for the children. A musty smell in a basement is a telltale sign of dampness. Dampness leads to mold and mildew growth, making the environment unhealthy. Mold and mildew harms a home and threatens the structure. Ridding the musty odor is necessary to improve the quality of a home.
Look for signs of mold and mildew on the walls, in closets and around windows and doors. Clean the mold with equal amounts of chlorine bleach and water, or a commercially available mold killer. Spray the mold killer on the moldy or mildewed areas and scrub them away with a scrub brush.
Examine the basement walls for cracks and holes. Apply hydraulic cement to the cracks and holes with a putty knife to seal them from water entry. If the entire wall feels damp, paint a coating of waterproofing material on the walls.
Grade the soil away from the foundation of the house, forcing water to flow from the house rather than toward it.
The Musty Smell In The Basement: Lift The Smell
After going through all this, you may be chagrinned to sniff and discover you still have a smelly basement, but dont be. You still have a step to go. Leave out open containers of cat litter, bowls of white vinegar, or baking soda throughout the cellar. Theyll kill the lingering musty smell in a couple days.
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Find The Source Of The Musty Smell:
As we have seen, the most common reason for a musty smell in your home is the presence of mold or mildew. And because the microbial volatile organic compounds emitted from mold and mildew have a low odor threshold, a musty smell does not necessarily mean that there is a lot of it. Before you try to cover up the odor, take some time to look around for patches of mildew or mold. Some places you may want to check for mold around your home include:
Your bathrooms Moist and warm, bathrooms are like heaven to mold spores. You will want to check the most obvious places like the tiles in the shower but do not forget to check under the sink, around the toilet, and in the walls. Water leaks may not always be evident right away, but if you do a thorough inspection of your bathrooms, you should be able to tell if there is a moisture problem causing mold growth.
The kitchen There are a lot of places in the kitchen for mold to hide out, so you will want to check thoroughly. Look inside of, underneath, and around your refrigerator, underneath your sink, and inside your microwave and stove. Oh, and do not forget to check your trash can that is another dark place mold cannot resist.
In the bedrooms True, your bedroom may not seem like a great place for mold to grow but its very possible. To keep your room smelling fresh, you will want to check for mold on your mattress, your bedroom windows and windowsills, and in any potted plants you have.
When Should You Seek Professional Help
While you can try the DIY mold removal strategy above, sometimes the problem requires professional assistance. If you try everything above and you still have fungal growth in your basement, consider reaching out to a mold remediation service.
You should also get professional help if the spores are causing health risks such as allergies, asthma attacks, or other respiratory problems. Green spores are a specific type of fungus that can be quite dangerous if left untreated. Reach out to a professional if you notice green fungal growth on your basements walls, floors, or ceiling.
Also Check: How To Eliminate Mold In Crawl Space
Fix Any Water Leaks Or Moisture Problems
You can do all the cleaning you want, but if you do not take measures to fix any water leaks or other moisture problems, you will find yourself right back at square one. The CDC confirms this, saying, Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Once you have identified the source of the musty smell in your home, decide whether it requires maintenance that you can do yourself or if it makes more sense to hire a contractor to do the work for you. If you are renting, keep in mind that most leases require your landlord to pay for the repairs.
Mold In The Basement: Identifying And Treating It
Homes that have basements often have mold. Due to basements’ proximity to groundwater, water can wick up through concrete floors and continue wicking up through floor sleepers and wall studs. Homes without a robust water diversion system may accumulate water in the soil that can crack the foundation, which results in water leakage.
Identifying and treating basement mold is a multi-stage process. You must find the mold, then test it to make sure of what you’re dealing with. You’ll remove structural elements to permit access to the mold, as needed, and go through the process of killing the mold. Then you’ll mechanically remove or encapsulate the dead mold spores, depending upon which is best for your situation. Finally, you’ll turn your attention to fixing the problem that allowed the mold to grow in the first place.
Recommended Reading: How To Rid Of Mold In Shower
Ways To Get Rid Of The Musty Smell In Your Basement
If Vinegar Doesnt Work Use Baking Soda
However, apple cider vinegar doesnt always do the trick. If this is the case, wash your items again with one cup of baking soda in the place of apple cider vinegar.
No one wants their clothes or towels smelling like mold and mildew. To make sure that your items keep that just-washed smell, try:
- Switching your items into the dryer as soon as possible. The more time they spend in the washer, the more likely they are to retain a mildew odor.
- Hanging clothes or towels in an area where they can dry. Oftentimes, wet towels are left to hang in the bathroom, without being able to fully dry. This moisture can build up, and cause long-lasting odors.
- Washing towels, rugs and other items regularly. Its easy to reuse these items without thinking about the need to wash them. Remember to regularly wash these items to help reduce the risk of future mold and mildew odors.
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How To Get Rid Of Basement Odor
First, you must identify the cause of the odors. In many cases, you may need to contact a professional especially if its caused by dampness, rot, mold, mildew or sewage problems. You should also work on neutralizing the smells. Put out a few bowls of baking soda and spray distilled white vinegar around the room.
Kill Mold Naturally With Tea Tree Oil
Believe it or not, one of the uses for tea tree oil is a fungicide thats surprisingly effective at killing molds and mildews on many different surfaces, from clothes to walls to shower stalls. If youre looking for a healthy, holistic, pleasant-smelling way to kill mold in your home, tea tree oil might be just the ticket.
- Scrub brush, sponge, or rag
If youre cleaning mold in a shower or other well-traveled area, you may be able to spray the area with the tea tree oil solution and leave it. Since youre only using one part tea tree oil for every 48 parts water, theres no need to rinse!
If the area is visibly moldy, you may want to scrub the mold away with a sponge or rag soaked in the tea tree solution instead. In both scenarios, leave the cleaner on the surface without rinsing to help discourage future mold growth. Watch tea tree oil use around pets, as it can be harmful to them if ingested.
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Visually Locate Mold Growth
Mold grows everywhere, and it especially thrives in damp environments like the basement. One of the easiest ways to check for mold growth is through visual inspection.;
This fungus can grow nearly anywhere its spores land, find moisture, and have a warm ambiance. You can spot the most visible type of mold, called mildew. They start as small black spots, which grow into larger colonies.;
These are the grimy black stuff you see that grows on damp walls or painted sidings.;