HELP! Musty/Mildew Smell

rivkadrJune 7, 2010

I have a 50-year old house in Southern California; it's built on a slab, and is your typical 3-bedroom SoCal bungalow.

Over the past month or so, we've been smelling a musty smell in a couple sections of the house. One of the spots is in a bedroom in one of the corners, and the other spot is in the hallway -- the bathroom is on the other side of the wall when you're in the hallway. I've looked under the bathtub, poked my head into the attic, and just generally sniffed everywhere trying to find the cause of it. The weird thing is, is that you'll get a good whiff sometimes, and then other times it's completely gone when you're standing in exactly the same spot.

I'm not even sure who to call to get this checked out. Our plumber looked at the bathtub as well, and said he couldn't see anything. He suggested it might be something in our vents. What kind of company should I be calling to investigate this??

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What kind of vents? Forced air heat vents or ???

Musty can come from lack of ventilation, lack of air movement or it can come as the result of a long term but slow water leak or drip. Or both.

Along the hallway and in the bedroom you can carefully spring the baseboard off and cut small inspection holes. Keep the holes smaller than the baseboard and you can just patch without worrying about fine finish and replace the base.

What you are looking for is mold and mildew on the back, paper face of the drywall and/or moisture in the cavity.

Does the bedroom area back onto the hallway or use a connecting wall? Hope so because then it is one position traveling to two locations, most likely. Hope, hope.

It could be a roof vent that has decided to leak, down into a wall cavity. It might be flashing over a window. Find it with the least damage possible and then begin taring stuff out til you get to the origin.

Good luck.

Just a good flashlight and a nose will tell you quite a bit.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 6:32PM
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So we pulled out the base molding in the bedroom, and the smell was quite strong. I put some holes in the drywall near the floor, but didn't find anything conclusive. The smell is strongest near the outer walls of that room, so I'm concerned that there is leak from the outside coming in; it also appears to have soaked underneath the wood floor in some areas :( :( :( I'm having a leak and mold remediation company coming out tomorrow, so I guess we'll find out what it is. Regardless, I suspect it's going to be quite expensive to fix it...

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 1:22AM
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If it is coming from outside, remember that caulking is not the solution. Whatever it is out there, you need them to fix it with flashing, siding, membrane, etc. Just buttering something up with silicone is not a proper thing.

Depending on what they find and what they say, doing your own demo and garbage can cut those types of bills quite a bit. Especially if you or yours has access to a commercial dumpster. Spring for the contractor weight garbage bags, trust me on that.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 7:02PM
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