How to Get Rid of Musty Odor in Basement
LESLIE: Sandy in South Dakota is on the line with a funny smell coming from the basement. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
SANDY: Our basement is – got a real bad, musty smell to it. And we’ve had fans going down there all summer long, we’ve had a dehumidifier going year-round. And I can’t get rid of the musty smell. I don’t know what to do with it.
TOM: Alright. Well, there’s a couple of things that you can do.
First of all, the musty smell is because you have an excessive amount of moisture and humidity down there. So we want to do some things to try to reduce that amount of moisture. You’re going to start outside your house and examine your gutter system. You want to make sure that you have gutters, that the gutters are clean and free-flowing and that the downspouts are discharging 4 to 6 feet, minimum, away from the foundation.
SANDY: They do.
TOM: They do. Alright. And then after that water discharges, does it run away from the wall?
SANDY: It runs away from the house, yes.
TOM: So, I’d like you to take a look at those gutters in a heavier rainfall, just to make sure they’re not becoming overwhelmed. Because that usually is a source of many moisture problems.
If the gutters are working well, then we need to look at the grading around the house. The soil should slope away and drop 6 inches on 4 feet. And that soil grade should be made up of clean fill dirt, not topsoil, not mulch or grass. You could have a little bit of topsoil and grass on top of it but you have to establish the slope first with fill dirt. And the reason you’re doing this is because you want rainfall that hits to run away from the house and not sit up against the house. That slope is really, really important.
If that’s done, then going down to the basement area, we could make sure that the walls are properly sealed with a damp-proofing paint and then a dehumidifier on top of that. But the dehumidifier has to be properly sized for the basement space and it has to be drained – set up with a condensate pump so that it drains outside.
And those steps together are usually going to take out as much moisture as you possibly can.
SANDY: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Sandy. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.