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My Basement Is Dry But Still Smells Musty

My Basement Is Dry But Still Smells Musty

Dry Basement for entertaining

If your dry Berkley basement smells musty is a definite sign that something is wrong. Even if mold in your home is invisible to the eye and the basement concrete appears to be dry, you can still have enough mold growth on your wall, crawl space or on your slab to create a serious odor.  The truth is, if your basement smells kind of musty, it is, in fact, musty and needs your attention.

What causes a basement musty smell?

A musty smell in your basement is a classic issue caused by the presence of either mildew or mold. These will thrive in dark locations.  Beyond the omnipresent smell, mold and mildew left untreated can cause serious damage to your home.  Their presence may expose your family to serious issues which may include allergies or asthma. To keep your basement free from musty odors and the presence of mold and mildew is a key to maintaining a healthy and safe home. While mold can be more dangerous to your health, mildew is generally considered to be a cosmetic problem. But the presence of both can cause your basement to smell musty. Both of these should be removed.

Areas of the Home That Develop Mold

The fact is, any place where water is found can develop mold. Also, an excessive amount of humidity in a home can condense and then cause mold. Ironically, newer homes can experience more mold growth than older homes due to being tightly sealed and insulated. Fiberglass insulation can provide a fertile ground for mold growth and working with this makes mold and mildew more difficult to eradicate and remove.

When you inspect your basement, conduct a complete search. Don’t just look for obvious signs. Inspect around chimneys, furnaces, water heaters and ductwork.  Look at the spaces under the kitchen, especially consider under sinks, dishwashers and refrigerators with ice makers. Look under every bathroom, especially walls where showers, bathtubs and sinks are found.  Look along the foundation near air vents and window casements. If you use a window unit air conditioner, inspect under the window. All these could be hidden sources of moisture in your house. 

Dry mold is tougher to diagnose than wet mold.  Wet mold tends to be obvious. It is found on the floors and walls of the basement.  Black mold comes into sight as streaks or patches. It appears to be slimy and colored black, green or white with orange spots. Also, look for water stains with yellowish tint where water once was. 

If you smell a moldy smell in your home, this is an indication that you most likely have a mold problem. The following are four steps to help you manage a mold problem. 

  1. Check for signs of water anywhere. This includes condensation on surfaces, standing water and any sort of leak. If you find any kind of water leak, move to stop it immediately. This is crucial to protecting the integrity of your home’s foundation.  Issue with water can also create major damage to your house and belongings.
  2. If your pipes in the basement sweat or drip, this is a sign of condensation. You can wrap them with pipe insulation to reduce the moisture that perpetuates musty odors. Check along the fittings and couplings for leaks or seepage. 
  3. Keep the basement dry.    Dehumidifiers help to reduce odors that can accompany mold and mildew in your home—getting rid of that “musty” or “rotting” smell. These devices also help to reduce the possibility that you will develop future mold and mildew on your clothing, furniture, and other linens in your home such as curtains or bed sheets. 
  4. Air out your basement as best as you can. If your basement has windows that open outward, open these for a few hours on a warm, dry day and use several fans to circulate fresh air throughout the room. If you don’t have windows that open, you will want to keep the basement door open for a while and then place your fans downstairs to maximize air circulation.

Action is your friend – Kill off mold immediately.  You don’t have to run to the hardware store in search of harsh chemicals. Your grandparents would be the first to tell you that undiluted white vinegar has the ability to kill over 80 percent of mold spores.  Don’t just bravely pour and wipe. Wear the appropriate protective clothing to avoid direct contact with the spores, pour your straight vinegar into a spray bottle and saturate the affected areas with a heavy mist. Keep your windows open for good air circulating during the process. Since white vinegar is non-toxic, you have no cleanup. Leaving the mixture to dry on the surfaces will help prevent future mold growth.

What takes a musty smell out of a basement?

A simple program can eliminate the smells that remain in your home’s basement. Recycle plastic containers from items such as salsa, cottage cheese or sour cream. Once clean, you can fill them with one of these three tools to help remove smells and prevent future mold growth.

  1. Take your white vinegar, fill several containers and place in various places around the basement. The vinegar will remove the odor from the room. After several days, you’ll discover you have a fresh-smelling basement again. 
  2. Put fresh cat litter in your open containers throughout the basement. When changed regularly, the litter will absorb most of the musty smell in your basement. (Monitor these so that Fluffy doesn’t also use them as a litter box.)
  3. Similar to cat litter, baking soda will also absorb the majority of musty smells. Baking soda can hold its absorbency for up to 3 months, depending on how pronounced your home’s odor is. 

Once you’ve discovered and concentrated on any sources of condensation, leaks and moisture in your basement and then thoroughly cleaned and dried out the areas where you found mold, your basement should return to smelling fresh. 

If the signs of mold and mildew return, you will need professional help with removing it from your home. Check for a licensed, bonded and insured contractor with has experience in mold remediation services. They will have the right tools and experience to completely eradicate the house mold issues, plus the tools to eliminate the musty smell.


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