Musty smell in bathroom?

pam29011October 8, 2011

Our house was built around 1965 and the bathrooms are original. The upstairs bath has a musty smell that is really strong. We stopped showering in it a while ago (a year?) but have kept putting water down the tub drain every so often to keep the trap from drying out.

The other problem is that the toilet seat gets mildew spots very quickly. You can clean the toilet and within a week there are mildew spots on the seat & the underside of the lid. Between the age of the bathroom & the toilet seat issue I felt certain the musty smell was mold or mildew related.

Today I tore out the walls around the tub b/c I figured that's where the source of the mildew was (old house = paper covered sheetrock behind the tile). I found some black mildew/mold, but honestly not that much. I wore a respirator designated for lead paint & mildew/mold, so I was safe.

We plan to renovate this bathroom in the spring when we add dormers to the front of the house but in the meantime, what else could be causing a strong mildew/musty smell in there? It's been this way for months, so I think it isn't just a dead mouse in the wall (and I didn't find any evidence of mice in the interior or exterior walls when I demo'd the walls today). This is the only upstairs bathroom so I'd like to keep the toilet & sink functional as long as possible b/c it's a long walk downstairs for a middle-of-the-night pee break.

I'm almost disappointed that I didn't find huge swaths of black mold/mildew ... Because at least then I'd think, "Aha! I got it!" Any thoughts on where else I should look or what else I should try? I just need to get this bathroom functioning for the next 5 months.



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have you cleaned out the trap in the sink? my water molds really easily and I've had problems with gunk in the pipes getting smelly. baking soda down the drain, then vinegar and wait a while then pour boiling water down it helps keep them clear for me. Worth a try if some expert here doesn't have a better fix...oh and is it possible the roof vent is clogged with leaves and gunk? Seems like that could be a source, too.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 11:43PM
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I have not tried cleaning the trap in the sink, but I will! I guess I figured, if the water goes down then we're all good ;)

I should have the vent on the roof checked. I've had a sneaking suspicion about that but I'm so chicken to go up there myself. Maybe I can convince the hubs to do it for me. I mean, since his poor wife had to tear out all that tile & wood yesterday (cue dramatic music).

Thanks! I'm looking for anything to try at this point. I really just want to keep using that toilet/sink until we can get the work started this spring. If nothing else this is pushing me to get off my butt and find a design/build firm to work with. If I knew what to do I'd hire someone today, but I have too many options in play and DH and I can't really agree on any one option as "best" since we have no clue what the pricing would be for any of them. I figure it's time to hire an architect instead of playing architect.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 6:10AM
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We have 2 bathrooms back to back. One smells musty, the other doesn't. We recently remodeled both bathrooms and found no mold behind the tub/shower walls. The musty smelling bathroom has both tub access panels. I was wondering if insulating the openings to these would help.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 10:56AM
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