Is the source of the musty smell mold?
Mold smells musty and thrives in damp dark areas like your basement. Mold has become a buzzword and many businesses are beginning to tie their products in with mold to increase their sales by playing on customer’s fears. There are many excellent web sources for scientific mold explanations, and there are a growing number of “experts” out there on mold.
There are no one step remedies to rid your house of mold, if that is the source of the musty smell in your basement. However, the fight against mold is a battle with multiple steps and tips on several fronts, as well as an arsenal of weapons to keep humans on the winning side of the ongoing battle.
1. You may nip mold in the bud with your daily cleaning, or if the problem is extreme, you may have to call in a mold professional to test your house, followed by a certified mold remediation company.
Mold is everywhere and will never be totally eradicated. It is an absolutely natural thing, but out of control, and in the wrong environment it can create a musty smell and can be harmful. With modern energy efficient building procedures, and ecological moves of taking lead and mercury (used as mildewcides in the past), out of paint and other materials, mold is become a huge problem. Since today people are too busy to do old-fashioned “spring cleaning”, it's no wonder mold and musty smells are on the increase.
2. If you discover that mold is the source of the musty smell in your basement, get rid of all mold growth materials such as carpets, wet drywall, clothes, cardboard boxes and books in the basement. If you don't, it will be like letting your brother in law move in. He will be harder to get rid of later, and he’ll pass the word to the rest of the relatives that you are a push over, and that they can move in too. So, once mold starts to get established in your house, you usually have to resort to a professional mold remediation company.
What have we learned so far about how to get rid of a musty smell in your basement?
Lesson #1. Keep up with your good cleaning habits, and don’t store porous, moisture absorbing items in the basement. Mold feeds on cellulose, which includes books, cardboard, particleboard (this comes with it’s own imported mold). The new “molded” 6 panel doors are also a great mold culture because of the cheap manufacturers’ prime paint on them. If you install these, paint them ASAP with Zinsser Kitchen & Bath paint.
Lesson #2. If you must store things in the basement, use sealed plastic containers, or throw the item out, give it to a relative, or take it to a good will location, or sell it at a yard sale. In other words, if you don’t have time to clean it, consider getting rid of it. If your life’s dream has been to build a cedar closet in the basement (bad move), put a radiator in there, or a Basement Ventilation System, or air condition it. Or take the clothes out, move your brother in law in there and shut off the heat, and/or take out the Basement Ventilation System!
Lesson #3. If you have a finished basement, always keep some heat source down there to help drive out moisture, and thus keep mold at bay. If you are starting to finish off a basement, use as many non-absorbent, non-cellulose materials as possible. One example is to frame out the walls with steel studs instead of wood studs. For flooring materials, use tile, linoleum, seamless flooring, or a floor system recommended by the manufacturer for subterranean installation. (Note: a non absorbent floor material on a cement floor with no thermal barrier WILL SWEAT during summer days when the dew point nears the outside temperature.) If you want added warmth to the floor, use area rugs, which can be removed easily and cleaned. Removable rugs also provide a thermal barrier to prevent condensation on tiled, painted, or linoleum floors in the basement. Dry-Cor underlayment panels are an excellent consideration when deciding to finish a concrete basement floor. For paint on the walls and trim, it is very highly recommended that you only use Zinsser Kitchen & Bath paint, as the manufacturer guarantees no mildew as long as two coats are applied. I have used their product and it lives up to its claims. It is available nationwide. Accept no substitutes.
Lesson #4. This is probably the most important one. If you have a leak in the house from any cause, take care of it immediately and thoroughly dry out any enclosed areas, such as between walls. Almost all of the headline grabbing mold stories started with leaks left to themselves or not properly cared for. Here is where it is advisable to call your insurance company and have a restoration contractor do the job professionally.
Many of our customers have noticed the musty smell in their basement improving very soon after our Humidity & Moisture Indoor Air Quality Control Basement Ventilation System is installed. However, in some basements the source of the musty smell may be extensive and may have to be removed (like old porous items like carpeting etc...) or thoroughly cleaned. Perhaps you have experienced this in principle: you wash clothes, then forget and leave them in the machine for two days. After you put them in the dryer they come out they smell musty. You then need to wash them again and dry them the same day, or they will have a musty smell. Your basement is no different. Clean means fresh smelling. Not clean means a musty smell in your basement.