Most basements are going to have an unpleasant, musty smell to them. Some basement odors can be resolved, and others can only be made better, depending on the source. If the smell of your basement is starting to bother you then start by finding the source of the odor and correct the smell as some causes can be more serious than others.
Identify the Source of the Odor
Before you can fix an odor, you should figure out where it is coming from. There are five main sources for basement smells:
- Mold or Mildew: The most common cause of a musty smell in a basement is the overgrowth of mold or mildew from moisture in the air. You may be able to see signs of mold or mildew, but some could be hiding in carpets, ceilings, or crevices in the walls.
- Wet Materials: Building materials such as drywall can smell musty when it gets wet, while fiberglass can smell like sulfur or rotten eggs.
- Animals: If you have pets such as cats, your basement could be smelling due to cat urine or waste. Also, animals such as mice, rats, and bats can end up dying inside your walls or elsewhere in your basement and smell.
- Sewage: If you have any plumbing issues within your home, you’ll know by a sewage smell in your basement. A plumber will be able to tell you if the problem is serious or not by inspecting the plumbing and sewer lines.
- Iron Ochre: A common finding in basements is iron ochre which looks like rusty ooze and smells musty, oily, or like sewage.
If you are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the smell in your basement, then get help from a plumber who can assist you as well as fix whatever is causing the foul odors.
Lack of Ventilation
Any air can start to smell musky and stale if not adequately ventilated. While poor air circulation may not be the sole cause of bad smelling air, it can certainly make an existing odor worse and more visible. If moisture is in the air, a lack of ventilation will cause mold or mildew spores to spread more easily. Moving air, on the other hand, can help any moisture evaporate and discourage further mold or mildew growth. A temporary solution would be to open any doors connected to the basement and turn on a fan. For a more long-term solution, Shepherd’s Plumbing can install a ventilator that can keep air in your basement moving without losing any energy and maintaining the temperature.
Improperly Vented Plumbing Fixtures
Plumbing is meant to keep that sewage smell in. If your basement smells like a sewer, you may have a problem with your plumbing such as a clog or crack in the system. One sign of an improperly vented plumbing fixture would be air bubbles rising in your toilet or rising and falling water levels aside from flushing. Another cause of sewer smell is if the traps of any plumbing fixtures have gone dry as the water in them evaporates quickly. To keep water flowing through your plumbing, make sure your toilets don’t go several days without being flushed. If you think your plumbing may be the cause of your stinky basement, give your plumber a call to use a specific detection method to determine the issue.
Sewer Ejector Pumps
A sewage ejector is a hole in the floor that collects all the waste from your plumbing fixtures. Used water will then pump into a drain to eject it from your plumbing system. If not cleaned regularly or adequately, a sewer ejector pump can start smelling very foul very fast. Getting rid of the smell is as simple as cleaning it out and adding some ventilation to your basement until the odor can be flushed out.
By eliminating the causes of your basement odors, you will also be making your home a more healthy and safe place to live. Getting rid of growth in the air such as mold can mean fewer allergies and fewer repairs to your home in the future. If you think you have located the source of your basement’s odor and still can’t escape the smell, give us a call today at 650-229-8984. We’ll be happy to make sure there could be no other causes for the smell, as well as ventilate your basement to make the air better to breathe.