How to Prevent & Get Rid of Musty Basement Smells

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    Having a musty smell in the basement can be a source of frustration for any homeowner, but not knowing how to get rid of it can be even more irritating. We all want our homes to smell clean and fresh, not dank and musty. Even if the odor is contained in the basement, it’s safe to say no one will be thrilled to go in there — and it could permeate anything you have stored down there. 

    Musty odors in the basement are also likely a symptom of a more serious problem, such as a mold or mildew infestation. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about how to get rid of musty basement smells and prevent them from occurring in the future.

    What Causes Musty Smells?

    The first question you will likely ask after noticing a musty odor in your basement is where it might be coming from. The musty smell could be caused by a few factors, including:

    • A lack of ventilation or poor air circulation
    • The humidity level is too high
    • There is a water leak
    • Condensation is forming

    Ultimately, the musty smell you’ve noticed is because these factors create a perfect breeding ground where mold and mildew can thrive. Mold and mildew are commonly found in spaces that are damp, dark, and warm. Basements often provide a prime environment for mold spores and mildew spores to take root and grow. 

    If you smell a musty odor, it’s important to take steps to get rid of the issue and prevent mold and mildew from spreading throughout your home.

    Effects of Musty Smells from the Basement

    Musty smells in your basement are off-putting as well as potentially dangerous. Since these musty basement smells are commonly an indicator of the presence of mold or mildew, it is important to act quickly to remove it. If left unchecked, the odor could travel to the rest of the home through your HVAC vents. 

    It is also important to know the potential negative effects of mold and mildew on human health. The symptoms of exposure can include:

    • Stuffy nose
    • Wheezing
    • Red or itchy eyes
    • Red or itchy skin
    • Fever
    • Shortness of breath
    • Upper respiratory tract symptoms
    • Cough
    illness from musty basement smells

    That musty basement odor is an indicator of moisture, so it is important to locate the source. After all, there are other potential problems associated with musty and damp buildings, including:

    • Presence of harmful bacteria
    • Lower air quality
    • Dust mites
    • Cockroaches and other pests
    • Chemicals that may be emitted by damp furnishings and building materials

    If you detect a musty smell in your basement, do not let it go unaddressed. If moisture, mold, and mildew are allowed to spread into the rest of the house, you risk several negative impacts on your home and health.

    5 Steps to Prevent or Get Rid of Musty Basement Smells

    Once you have detected a musty basement smell, you will want to get rid of it as fast as possible. To get rid of basement odors you will need to:

    1. Do a thorough check of your entire basement. 

    This includes inspecting the basement for leaks, cracks in the drywall or foundation, and checking to see if there is any water accumulation. 

    2. Repair any damage to the basement or crawl space

    In order to eliminate the smell, you will have to get rid of the source. Whether there is a leak, water accumulation, or humidity problem, it is important to remedy the situation before moving further. Otherwise, that musty basement odor will come right back.

    3. Clean the mold and mildew area thoroughly. 

    Once you’ve repaired any water leaks or other damage, it’s time to give any mold or mildew-impacted areas a thorough clean. Bleach is commonly thought to be the best substance to use to clean mold or mildew, but the truth is it only lightens the mold.

    cleaning mold from musty basement smells

    It is also very harsh and isn’t a good cleaning choice. A solution of one part distilled white vinegar and nine parts water is a good choice for getting rid of mold and mildew. 

    4. Air out the area. 

    Once moisture issues have been fixed and the area has been cleaned, it is a good idea to air out the space as best you can to help get rid of any lingering odors. Be sure that you’re not allowing in additional moisture in the process. 

    5. Absorb the odors. 

    If a musty odor is still lingering in your basement or home, you can also use a natural odor absorber. Activated charcoal and baking soda are great options.

    6. Prevent future musty basement smells. 

    You can help ensure your home and basement stay odor-free by regularly checking for moisture and airflow issues that could lead to the growth of mold and mildew. 

    Musty smells in the basement are never pleasant to deal with, but the multitude of potential negative impacts on health and your home means it’s worth the effort to deal with such problems as quickly as possible.

    Prevent Musty Basement Smells Before They Happen

    By catching any mold and mildew issues quickly and taking the appropriate steps to get rid of the problem, you can prevent and get rid of musty basement smells. Contact LUX Foundation Solutions today to speak to an expert about any questions you may have about musty smells in your basement, and offer you options of effective basement waterproofing solutions.

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