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Guide to Bad Basement Smells

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Guide to Bad Basement Smells

by Cris Carl for Networx

Generally, if we are talking about a smell in your basement, it usually isnít a pretty one. What you smell may be mold, mildew, cat urine (or feces), dead mice, or sewer gas. If you have an older home, there is a good chance you battle with water in your basement, which leads to some of these problem smells. Even if you have a sump pump installed in your basement, it may not be enough to combat mold and mildew. You may also have blockages in plumbing, drains, venting, or heating systems. Here, I will go over some of the major culprits of basement smells and offer suggestions on how to fix or lessen the problem.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are caused by the growth of bacteria that arises with unchecked and stagnant moisture. Mold and mildew can grow slowly over time, or rapidly if you have a major leak. Mold has an unforgettable tangy, earthy, smell of decomposition. Mold is always in the air unless you live in an extremely arid region. The more moisture, the more mold. Basements, being underground, can become moist though cracks in walls, windows, plumbing, condensation, etc.

4 Reasons Why Your Damp House is Wrecking Your Health

Many people are allergic to mold and may notice an increase in symptoms after a rain. The best way to deal with mold and mildew is to have your basement as dry as possible. Invest in a dehumidifier, seal any leaks or cracks the walls or floors, or invest in gutters so that rain drains away from your house.

Depending on the age of your home and how well you and previous owners have kept up maintenance, you may always have a slightly musty smell to contend with.

Getting rid of mold and mildew usually entails throwing out carpeting, furniture, or any absorbent materials such as fabrics and cardboard. Then you will need to clean thoroughly with a diluted bleach solution (10 to 1 mix).

Smaller items, when placed in bright sunshine for a couple of days will often lose both the smell and the mold.

3 Ways to Kill Mold Naturally

Sometimes, if the problem is severe enough, you may need to look into professional remediation.

If your furnace and vents havenít been cleaned in awhile, you may have a build-up of dust, debris, dead bugs and mice, and of course, mold. You should have your vents cleaned every one to two years.

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9:15AM PDT on Apr 6, 2015

Basement is an unhealthy place to live.

11:31AM PDT on Apr 29, 2011


9:57PM PST on Jan 24, 2011

thanks for the info

8:47PM PST on Jan 24, 2011

The only answer to animal urine (especially) cat is to replace everything smelly. We purchased an old house and the previous owners had a cat and two dogs. When they were moving they left their animals to fend for themselves for a couple weeks. (It was a huge bargain, what can I say). We had to tear up carpet and toss. We cleaned and cleaned. My husband installed new plywood on the floor. I still smelled. We tore down the moldings and threw away and cleaned some more. It still smelled. We painted. No help. Finally, he tore down the plaster and replaced it with drywall and we put down new carpeting. Problem solved. What an ordeal!!!

8:47AM PST on Jan 24, 2011


3:27AM PST on Jan 24, 2011

There is a very effective way to get rid of mold and mildew and the associated smell in the house. UVC ligth can permanently get rid of mold. See some great products and learn about this technology at "uvcindex".

9:24PM PST on Jan 23, 2011

A dehumidifier, especially during the summer, is essential in keeping down mold. I'm always amazed at how much water it removes from the air every day -- enough to water all my houseplants with some left over for the garden.

9:31AM PST on Jan 22, 2011

Thanks for the tips. Get this problem in our North facing bedrooms. Been cleaning the black off with specialist cleaning materials but it always comes back. Purchased a dehumidifier too which isn't cheap to run. Cannot shift this problem though!!!

10:22AM PST on Jan 21, 2011

Thanks, now I just need the guy downstairs to read this.

5:14AM PST on Jan 21, 2011

thanks for the info

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