Dealing with a Musty Basement

by Doris Donnerman
(last updated January 5, 2015)

While we would like to think that it is only a odor problem, musty basements are usually indicative of a potentially larger problem. If ignored, a musty basement can easily become a mold or mildew problem that could end up costing you thousands of dollars to repair. Unfortunately, many of us don't really notice a musty basement until the weather begins to change. For whatever reason, when you first notice the smell or odor you need to begin dealing with it. Good thing that dealing with a musty basement really only requires you to do a few things to get it under control

  • Simply cleanup. By doing as simple of a thing as periodically cleaning your basement, you will go a long way to dealing with a musty basement. This means that you will need to go through the entire basement and vacuum, sweep, mop, dust, and general clean everything that you can see. This typical cleaning doesn't really need to be any more detailed than what you would do for the rest of your home, but it does need to be done periodically and regularly. If you happen o have some carpeting in your basement, be sure to actually use a carpet cleaner at least every year (at a minimum) to ensure that you get it really clean. Remove any and all garbage cans in your basement, and clean them out thoroughly, up to and including scrubbing them as necessary.
  • Inspect for leaks. As you are doing your cleaning, take the time to look around for any possible leaks ad condensation. Pay particular attention to the walls, ceilings, and windows. Take a look at pipes, and ensure that there are no leaks visible. Remember that the single largest for that musty odor is mold and mildew which simply love to grow in dank and dark places—like the basement.
  • Pay particular attention to windows. It simply cannot be over stressed that you need to look at and examine your windows when you are cleaning your basement. Though it is a good start, don't stop with checking to see if there are any visible leaks or condensation. You will need to also check that they are sealed properly. You can do this by first looking at the caulking that is around the windows, and ensuring that it is firm and springy to the touch instead of brittle and flakey. If it is then you will need to replace the caulking as soon as possible. At the same time, hold a lit candle in front of the closed windows. If there is a draft (which would mean a small opening that moisture can get through) then the candle will flicker and you will need to properly weather proof the window. Take a little bit of time to clean the windows as well so that you can allow as much natural sunlight as possible to help control the growth of any mold and mildew.
  • Dehumidifiers. Even though it was stated earlier, it really needs to be stressed that the single largest cause for sour, musty smells comes from moisture which promotes mold growth. A really effective method for combating excessive moisture in a basement (or any room) is by using a dehumidifier.

Author Bio

Doris Donnerman

Doris is a jack of all trades, writing on a variety of topics. Her articles have helped enlighten and entertain thousands over the years. ...

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