What Causes that Musty Smell in My Basement?

What Causes that Musty Smell in My Basement? - Image 1


Homeowners may experience a strange and musty smell coming from their basement at any point in the year. This can be alarming since there's a possibility of mold and mildew your basement! But don't worry, here we will explain what causes these these smells and how to prevent them in the best possible way! 


When people think of basements, their first thoughts about them are usually, dark, cold and moist. And for the most part, they are completely correct! Basements are below grade, which means they are surrounded by soil. What does soil contain a lot of? Water. If the soil that surrounds the basement is completely saturated, then there could be tens of thousand of pounds of hydrostatic pressure going up against the foundation. With all that pressure, various cracks are often made, which is a gateway for water and moisture to get through. In some cases, moisture may have the ability to seep right through the concrete wall. To sum it up, hydrostatic pressure is a major cause for basement water problems. 


How Moisture Leads to Mold

When moisture gets into a basement, it gets absorbed into building materials and furnishings around the area. Any kind of moisture build up will lead to a high relative humidity, which is the actual amount of moisture in the air, relative to the maximum amount of moisture the air can hold. So when the air in your home gets to a capacity of water vapor, it condenses as moisture which gives off that damp feeling in basements. Mold eventually grows since it depends on humidity in wet conditions, which may be why you are smelling that strange odor. 


What Does Mold Smell Like?

If you are still questioning if it's mold that you are indeed smelling, then let's quickly discuss what mold smells like. It's often described as a musty smell, or a scent that resembles a wet sock or rotten wood. As the mold grows even more, it can emit gasses known as microbial volatile organic compounds, or in simpler terms, MVOC's. So in reality, you're not only getting a whiff just mold, but also the chemical compounds that get released during the mold growth phase. 


Preventing Mold Growth

Luckily, there is a grocery list of ways to prevent mold growth in basements so that you don't experience any bad odors!

Declutter Your Basement

A simple task such as clearing out congested items can open up air flow in your basement. A key tip is to make sure no items aren't directly touching the floor or walls. 


Insulating basement or crawlspace walls, windows and pipes will prevent condensation and lower the humidity level. In addition, proper insulation will keep the area warm to help reduce the heating bill! Check out our SilverGlo wall insulation that we install! 

Avoid Keeping Wood Downstairs

Wood is an organic material, which provides the kind of nourishment that mildew and mold needs in order to grow. Items such as firewood, wood floors and wooden furniture are best kept somewhere else. 

Ventilate Your Appliances

It's a pretty common to have a washer or dryer in basements. If they are constantly being used, it's best to vent them, otherwise, steam that was produced can't escape the machines and will eventually trap in moisture. If this task isn't possible, opening basement windows or a fan can help in a similar way. 


Dehumidifiers are great for preventing mold growth. Dehumidifiers, such as our SaniDry Sedona, have the ability to remove excess moisture in the basement. Your basement will eventually dry up and it won't feel as damp anymore with a simple and quick installation!

Water Vapor Barrier

Like mentioned before in the article, moisture can get through small cracks or even seep right through concrete walls. Covering the walls with a reliable vapor barrier will protect the basement or crawlspace from moisture passing through, reducing the chances of mold growth. 





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