Musty Finished Basement Problem

eppinghouseSeptember 12, 2008

Hi Â

We have a musty, finished half-basement that is making us crazy. Sometimes the smell is so bad, I canÂt stay down there. The smell even carries up the stairwell to the first floor.

Our house is 12 years old and located on a wooded lot. The basement is dry. We have a French drain system surrounding the house that leads to dry wells in the yard and have a sump pump in a small basement utility room. The utility room is air conditioned and heated, but leads into a crawl space that that is not air conditioned. The crawl space is filled with about four to six feet of gravel, designed to support the foundation.

The first few years after we had the house built, we didnÂt seem to have a problem with the basement. Now it seems to gets worse every year. We think the gravel might be a breeding place for mildew.

We keep an overhead fan on and also use an inexpensive dehumidifier in the basement. The finished part of the basement is about 225 sq feet, a pretty small area. When the AC is on --- it is zoned with the first floor --- the smell isnÂt so bad. But on nice days, when we like to turn the AC off and open the windows, the basement quickly gets nasty. There are several windows and a door to the outside in the basement, but opening them up doesnÂt help much --- even on low humidity days.

Will a more powerful dehumidifier or additional ones help solve the problem, and if so, should we put them in the basement or crawl space? Is there another approach we should consider? Removing the gravel and rebuilding the foundation would be VERY expensive and is something we are trying to avoid, if possible.

Does anyone have any experience with this type of foundation and this kind of problem? Any ideas are greatly appreciated.



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That musty smell is mold. How is the basement finished? While it may be the crawl space, I would suspect it to be the way the basement is finished. Problem areas would be carpet directly on concrete floors or finished walls that are trapping moisture and not drying sufficiently.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 8:29PM
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The basement floor is covered with Pergo laminate and their recommended vapor barrier and foam cushion. I don't know what, if anything, the contractors put between the block and drywall. I'll see if I can find out.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 8:40PM
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Keep the relative humidity at 45%- 50%. Use as many dehumidifiers as necessary to accomplish this. Outside air brings in more moisture and the cooler walls and floor may be condensing moisture from that air.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2008 at 8:31AM
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