Remodeling or finishing your basement is a large expense, so if you’re investing that money, you don’t want it jeopardized by odors.

If your basement smells musty, you should find the source whether you’re planning on refinishing or not. The smell can come from sweating pipes, improperly cleaned animal waste, or something more serious.

And there are several short- and long-term ways of eliminating the smell. You could leave out a bowl of white vinegar to fix a leaking pipe.

However, some situations call for an expert to remedy. In the wrong situation, that musty smell in the basement could be a sign of a serious health risk.

In the following article, we’ll look at a few solutions on how to remove that musty smell from the basement. 

Why a Basement Smells Musty 

Mold and mildew are the most common reasons for a musty odor in the basement. The smell is caused by spores from the fungi wafting through the air. Signs of mold could look like discoloration on wood or paneling or fuzz on cardboard boxes.

Mold can also go hidden if it develops behind paneling or in closed crawl space. 

In many cases, this mold is caused by sweating or leaking pipes. If the cause is a sweating pipe, look to wrap the pipes with insulation. This is an inexpensive fix that you can buy at a local hardware store. If you have a leaking pipe and a quick turn with a wrench won’t fix it, contact a plumber to take a look. 

Other musty smells could come from improperly cleaned animal urine, a deceased rodent, or a leaky sewage pipe. In some cases, the replacement of the wax ring around the pipe can remediate the sewage smell.  

Be aware that the musty smell in the basement, if left alone, will only spread upwards to the main parts of the home eventually. 

Foundation Leaks

According to All Jersey Home Inspection, a more serious origin of the musty basement smell is a problem with your foundation. This is usually an issue that is beyond your typical homeowner’s reach. In these cases, the foundation has cracked, started to separate, or is dealing with so much water from outside that the liquid is seeping through the porous concrete. 

Sometimes, a way to remediate the issue is to pull water away from the foundation by ensuring your gutters are working properly. Also, if your gutters are clear, consider adding extensions to deposit rainwater away from the foundation. Look to extend the gutters at least six to eight feet away from your outside walls. 

Possible Fixes

To eliminate odors short-term, leave out bowls of white vinegar and water or bags of charcoal. Both these methods will absorb the odor for a short time. Also, clean and remove any organic materials like cardboard boxes. If you have to, consider removing any old carpet in your basement as the fibers trap spores and hide mildew.

A word of caution: While most mold is not a threat to people, black mold is, and it is hard for the layman to tell the difference. If you suspect that you have a serious mold problem, do not try to remove it yourself. If you do, you may spread the harmful mold deeper into your home. 

Call an Expert

If your basement smells musty and you think it needs a more serious fix, you should consider bringing in a mold remediation contractor or a home inspector as soon as possible. 

Water damage to your foundation can cause structural issues for your home and cost you a lot of money the longer the problem goes unaddressed.

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