What You Can Do If Your Cellar’s a Smeller!
If you’ve ever spent time in a stuffy, musty basement you don’t need anyone to tell you how unpleasant the smell can be. Worse than dirty gym socks, worse than rotten eggs, worse than…well, there aren’t many things that smell worse. A smelly basement is especially problematic for homeowners who want to use their basement as additional living space for a den, extra bedroom, or entertainment room > or if you’re looking to sell your home.
Where is That Basement Smell Coming From?
Usually, bad basement smells come from humidity and moisture that comes up from the ground. Because the basement is below ground level, this moisture never really goes away and just keeps accumulating. Mold and fungus grow and spread, causing the unpleasant smells. The only way to permanently get rid of odors is to get rid of the moisture.
While totally removing moisture and condensation from your basement is not realistic, there are plenty of steps you can take to dramatically reduce the amount of moisture entering the space and eradicate that horrible musty basement smell.
Cover Sources of Basement Moisture
Dirt that is left exposed will attract moisture, which then seeps into your basement through the foundation and leaves behind a nasty smell. You can try to fix this problem by covering the dirt around the outside of your home with plastic sheeting, mulch, or gravel. This should help block some of the moisture and improve the smell in your basement.
Exposed water pipes may get cold and collect condensation, allowing moisture to build up. Insulating pipes in and around the basement can really help reduce moisture and tamp down the smell.
Turn Up the Heat
Moisture and heat generally do not get along. One of the best ways to eliminate excess condensation in your basement is to crank up the heat. If your home’s HVAC system doesn’t have a control for the basement, you can try one of these alternatives:
- Open basement window curtains to let warming sunshine in during the day. Shut them at night to hold heat in and prevent overnight condensation when temperatures drop.
- If your boiler or furnace is located in a separate basement room, leave the door open to allow heat from the unit to raise the temperature in the rest of the space.
- Place a small space heater in the basement and run it whenever someone is home. Even a few hours of extra heat can make a big difference.
Air It Out
Improving air circulation through your basement can help dry up moisture and get rid of bad smells. Installing an exhaust fan in the basement is a good idea, as is running a simple standing or box fan. In pleasant weather, open basement windows to let fresh air into the room. And putting your laundry dryer in the basement, with the outgoing air vent directed out of the basement, can also help improve air flow and dry the air.
Dehumidify Your Basement
Perhaps the most effective way to eliminate moisture from a musty, moldy basement is to get a dehumidifier. These devices pull moisture from the air, collecting water in a built-in reservoir. Empty the basin regularly and you’ll have a fresher, more pleasant basement.
Install a Sump Pump In Your Basement
If your foundation rests over a well or water table and if your basement is prone to dampness, groundwater leaking and flooding, consider installing a sump pump in your basement. Sump pumps funnel and collect basement moisture in a pit dug into the foundation and pump it out of your home. A Horizon Services plumbing technician can recommend and install a sump pump system that’s ideal for your basement.
Could It Be Your Sewer or Water Lines?
Is the smell especially foul? The source could be sewage waste slowly seeping into your basement due to obstructions in or damage to your main sewer and water lines leading out of your house. Over time, these lines can rsdily clog up with waste; crack, bend or break; or even be penetrated by creeping roots from trees and shrubs. This can cause sewage to back up into your home or seep your yard and foundation into your basement.
One sure sign of sewer and water line problems, besides the smell, is if water does not flow easily down your toilet, sinks or tubs, or makes unusual gurgling, bubbling sounds when it does. If you suspect such a problem, don’t delay: call a professional sewer & water line repair/replacement contractor like Horizon Services. If left untreated, the problem could result in a major backup of sewage waste into your home; this is not only extremely unsanitary, it can result in permanent damage to floors, carpets and other parts of your home.