How to Fix that “Musty Basement Smell”
Does your basement have a certain, distinct, musty smell? You may have smelled it so often in basements that you think it’s the way basements are supposed to smell. It’s not! While basements do lend themselves to musty smells by being below-ground with less light and fresh air than the rest of your house, there are controllable factors that can keep your basement musty. By identifying the cause, you can get rid of that unpleasant smell and have a basement that’s pleasant to use.
First, determine the source of the odor. A smell is usually just a symptom of an issue in your basement. It could be mold or mildew, sewage problems, animal waste, or iron ochre. At the root of most of these problems is a problem with excess moisture. Do an inspection of your basement and clean up the mess that’s causing the odor.
- Eradicate mold and mildew. These are both fungi that can have a negative impact on your health, and may require professional removal. A big part of getting rid of mold and mildew is getting and keeping your basement dry.
- Repair any damaged pipes. Leaky pipes can cause moisture problems in your basement, but they can also cause sewage problems, either leaking liquid sewage or emitting odors.
- Look carefully for animal waste. If you notice droppings, hire a pest control company to keep rodents from ruining your basement. Not only do rodent feces smell bad, but they can also spread diseases.
- Clean up iron ochre. This bacterial substance looks like red-brown, slimy mud and can add a rotten-egg element to the smell in your basement. To clean it, wear waterproof gloves and scrape as much as possible away with a putty knife. By following this with a rust remover, you’ll be able to remove some of the stains and most of the iron ochre odor.
- Get rid of anything damp. If your drywall, insulation, or wood is wet, it needs to be repaired or removed to eliminate the musty smell in your basement. Thoroughly dry out the basement and then thoroughly clean it as well.
Once you’ve tackled the smell, it’s time to take steps to keep it from coming back. Look for cracks or leaks in the foundation that could be letting water into your basement and check the windows and entrances to make sure they’re watertight as well. Fix any leaking plumbing and call in a professional to determine whether there are leaks that require a new drainage system.
Look at the outside of your home and make sure the water on your property is being effectively managed. Grade your yard away from the foundation, and make sure your drainage systems are taking the water far away from the house. Use window well covers to protect the basement windows, and keep your gutters and downspouts clean and clear of debris. Inside the basement, install a sump pump to carry water out, and use dehumidifiers to keep the humidity under control. Talk to a professional basement waterproofing company about options for sealing your basement and keeping it clean, dry, and good smelling.
Whenever you need help with your basement, trust Reliable Basement Services to make the process hassle-free. A family-owned and operated company, we’ve served the greater Chicago area for over a decade. We offer a full spectrum of basement services including crack repairs, sump pump systems, basement waterproofing, basement windows, and floor repair. Our consistently high standards have made us an award-winning Chicago basement waterproofing contractor, so call us at (630) 777-0539 or visit our website.