help with smell in living room please guys!!

bolters100June 4, 2013

hi guys

i have a strange problem, i get an old dirty/musty smell in my living room but strangely only when i open the windows??

i live in a flat in a block containing 8 properties, i keep my flat very clean and it never smells at all at any other time, i don't have the same problem in any of the other rooms.

with summer approaching this is becoming a huge problem.

i've lived here for 3 years now, it's only been happening the past 1- 1 1/2 years.

the living room smells fine, i have wooden blinds that i've taken down and cleaned thoroughly, i've cleaned the windows and window panels, nothing individually smells in the living, it all smells fine, then when i open up the window the air outside smells fresh and fine so it's not the air coming from outside, everything in the livingroom smells fine but within a few minutes the room smells of like an old hospital, a really old dirty musty smell, like an old charity shop if you can imagine?

i just cant work it out, i thought it was the air reacting with the blinds but i have the same wooden blinds in the kitchen so it's not that, when i moved in their was already carpet and i don't know how long it's been here so i'm leaning towards that being the culprit.

it's only when i open the windows in my living room that this happends, the air outside snells fine and everything in my living does also so i've deduced that the air is interacting with something to create this smell?

my guees is the carpet but it will cost a minimum of �600 to replace which i don't have and the carpet otherwise doesn't really smell

can anyone help please, any ideas?

i'm dreading the summer coming and not being able to have the windows open in my living room

thanks guys

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thanks for the info, i'll check the blog out and give the baking soda a try

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 7:38AM
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I was thinking, maybe the smell is outdoors? Not in the air, but maybe in the soil outside your home. Maybe there's a muddy area that has mold growing in it? Or worms? Check around the soil outside. You may want to sprinkle cat litter over any strange looking area. It certainly sounds like your house is clean.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 9:45AM
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i am going to take a guess and say you probably have wood windows, and the framing is wood as well?
You may want to wash down the inner sills and storm windows with something like Lysol or a mild bleach solution, and if you have screens, take them out and wash them thoroughly as well. Washing the back side of your windows and thoroughly cleaning out the area between the windows may help. what you are describing sounds like damp wood, and the sills can be holding moisture. At the bottom of the screens there are supposed to be small holes
to allow moisture to drain. when the rain comes against the windows if this drain hole is not open the water can rest on that inner sill and cause the wood to stay damp. Old houses and apartments frequently have wooden window dampness problems because repainting or dirt accumulating over time has plugged up those drain holes.
Once the sills of your windows are thoroughly dry you can try sealing them with a water sealer or primer and a good quality paint. That should protect the sills from rot and seal any stale odors remaining. If you find the sills are rotten, it is time to give the landlord a call! hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 11:05AM
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thanks for the further info guys

Janie - at first i thought the same thing, i live on the top floor of a building containing 8 flats so i'm 4 floors up and there is a communal garden area outside and the bottom floors have their own gardens and one is exceptionally dirty, last summer there were a lot of covers in his garden and i couldn't quite see down there properly i thought maybe someone had died, the smell was that bad and that the covers were sealing up the house, turns out it was just covers covering up garden stuff, i went down there and nothing smells out of the ordinary so i was back to square 1

egbar - you've hit the nail on the head i do have wooden frames on all of the wondows, but about a month ago i took down the wooden blinds and cleaned them thoroughly and then cleaned the windows and wooden panels with just about everything i had in the house but the smell remained?

although i have noticed that if i keep the livingroom door open when i go to bed or go out with no windows open there's no smell but if i close the livingroom door with the windows closed lately i've smelt on occassion a faint odour of damp which would substantiate your idea that it's the frames, although i have the same wooden frames in the bedroom and kitchen and am not having this problem?

also this is going to sound crazy but if i go out and come home with all wondows closed as said everything is fine and obviously if i open the livingroom ones within about 2 minutes it starts to smell but the other day i went out and opened only my bedroom window, when i came back the hallway & house had the smell of musty/dirt but the bedroom where my window was open smelt fine as did the kitchen, it was just the livingroom and to a lesser extent the hallway connected to it that smelt so it seems that ANY kind of fresh air when in my livingroom is causing this smell, even if it's coming all the way from the bedroom????

when i'm in the livingroom and it's fine the wooden panels smell fine and the air ouside smells fine but after a couple of minutes i can smell the "fresh" (or should i say new) air causing the air in the room to smell old, stale and sickly.

i think maybe you're right egbar it's just weird that it would still hapen after a few hours of having my bedroom window open, something in my livingroom is reacting terribly to fresh air that's for sure lol, it's so infuriating i've never encountered anything like it or even heard of it.

will probably look to paint the panels see if that helps, have cleaned the carpet but not fullly yet so i'll see if that helps, thanks for all the suggestions guys

if you have anymore ideas please let me know

thanks very much

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 12:39PM
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Yes! we are getting closer to finding the source. You get smells when certain doors or windows are closed or open because of the natural air flow in the house. When you close or open doors or windows you change the air flow in various ways. Here is another question. Do you have a basement or crawl space? Do you have forced air heat? If the smell is not coming from damp penetrating a wall through a window or perhaps failed roofing flashing or seal around a vent, then the next thing to check is the cold air returns. Do you ever notice the smell when you have the heat on? Has it been exceptionally damp and rainy there lately? You could have a cold air return somewhere that has been displaced or is not properly sealed and which causes damp air to be drawn through it into various parts of the house. Check the living room area first since it all seems to happen when living room windows are involved, right? Do you have a window air conditioner in one of those living room windows? sorry so many questions, if I could see it, it might be immediately evident to me. Cleaning lady job for apartment management company had me tracking down solutions to smelly problems many times over the years. best wishes

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 6:56PM
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hi egbar, thanks for your response

i've thoroughly coated the wooden window frames with 3 coats of paint now lol, every hole and crack has been sealed thorougly but i'm still getting the same old musty smell, it's still just in my living and still ONLY when i open the windows, after having painted them for the past 4 days leaving a day inbetween i just had the window open for about 1/2 an hour and the air in the room soon turned to the same old musty dirty smell, wow this is driving me crazy.

no i've never noticed it at any other time, not when i've had the heating on, it only happends in the livingroom and when i open one of the windows, the air just turns stale and old.

if i keep the windows closed it's fine, i live in a flat on the 4th floor (top floor) so no basement or wall space

the window frame in my bedroom is in a lot worse condition than the ones in my living room, sometimes get mould on them which i have to clean every few weeks leaning out but if i open that window which i have open most of the time my bedroom in fine! although as i said if i leave it open all day and the air finds it's way to the livingroom it will start to smell funny in there

these are reasonably new flats, a building of 8 properties, quite modern, i just don't get it.

i'm not a scientist but the fresh air when it's hitting a certain something in my living room is making it smell awful, it's just baffling to me??

on the top part of the wooden frame there are small platic vents/filters which flip open, i cleaned those thoroughly, painted over them throughly, i have the same thing in my kitchen andbedroom though and like i said no problems

whilst painting the window frames they certainly didn't smell funny, it's really depressing me, i've cleaned the carpet throughly and painted the window frames but still the same thing, only in the livingroom and only when i open a window!

thanks again for your help egbar

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 10:02AM
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you are located on the 4th floor. It seems to me that when you open the windows you are creating a "chimney" effect. Air tends to rise to the highest point given the opportunity. My gut tells me that the chimney effect is pulling air up through your air vents or your return. Something in those areas may be causing it. Is your heating unit and air handler in your flat or on the ground floor? In any case, open the windows and put your snoot up to the vents and the return and see if odors are coming out of those.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 11:53AM
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is your heating unit shared by other apartments? is it a forced air system? If so,
it may be that the dusty smell is indeed being pulled from the heating ducts. If you are on the top floor it could also be from the roof/ceiling. What sort of ceilings do you have?
if they are dropped ceilings there could be damage from leakage in the ceiling that has been covered by the dropped ceiling and the fresh air circulating in those areas could be causing the smell. If you have shared vents and heating ducts the air circulation of the open windows could be pulling odors from apartments below you, even to the point of pulling odors up from the basement via the cold air returns. If you don't mind my perpetual questions we will figure it out eventually! best wishes

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 7:50AM
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