Lower level of tri-level is musty smelling

SnailLoverJune 20, 2014

I have a tri-level house but the lower level isn't used very much because it smells musty and has spiders and other creepy bugs. The area is separated by a small 3' high wood door. The smaller side is the crawl space with a sand floor. It smells musty but looks and feels pretty dry. The larger area has a linoleum floor and part of it is walled off where the laundry area and a 2nd bathroom are. There are no leaks, drips or anything. Currently I just use it for storage and doing laundry. What can I do to make this area smell better and more livable?

As I write, I'm in the process of setting off a bug fogger. Then I'm going to scrub the floors and set up a dehumidifier (it's just a mini one). Will this be enough? Anything other suggestions?

About the wood door separating the crawl space: it fits pretty snugly, but is there more I can do to seal it from the main section? I don't know if all tri-levels have this little door so hopefully you know what I'm talking about. I can post a pic if needed.

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You may need a bigger dehumidifier. I live in a raised (or high) ranch and the lower lever can start to feel and smell musty sometimes. I close the windows - no point in bringing more moisture in to the room from the outside - and run the dehumidifier for a few days.Just be sure to check the bucket as it can fill up quickly. It seems to eliminate the problem for a while. High humidity and rain days can cause it to get yucky again, so be prepared to run the dehumidifier again as the weather warrants.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 10:07AM
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"The smaller side is the crawl space with a sand floor."

With no vapor barrier covering the exposed sand, I suspect using a dehumidifier will be both ineffective and very expensive to operate.


This post was edited by saltidawg on Sat, Jun 21, 14 at 13:33

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:38AM
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Gotcha! Is there anyway he could place a vapor barrier over the crawl space that wouldn't be cost prohibitive?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 12:42PM
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Do you mean sheets of plastic laid over the sand, or am I misunderstanding? Would a tighter seal on the door work as well? Here is a pic.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 10:03PM
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Plastic over the sand... there is also the wood in the crawl space to protect from that moisture.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 8:34AM
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What is in the crawl space that makes a crawl space necessary, what equipment?

by all means, cover the sand with a vapor barrier. I see no down side to that.

Get yourself a couple of inexpensive hygrometers to monitor the humidity level down there. You should be between 30 and 50% RH. If the dehumidifier is not doing it, get a bigger one.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 8:06PM
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I think using a dehumidifier alone will be similar to trying to bring down the humidity in your back yard with a dehumidifier.

In 1980 I paid Terminex to put a vapor barrier down over the dirt in the crawlspace beneath my home... they also placed temperature controlled shutters on the vents in my foundation.

I was naive in paying Terminex to do the work - there were much cheaper contractors available - so it cost me a fortune. But it reduced the humidity in the crawl space dramatically!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 8:17PM
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The water tank is the only thing in the crawl space, and lots of cable cords. I know there is some plastic laid down, can't remember if the entire ground is covered though. I'll have to check again. Many thanks for the feedback and suggestions.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 9:03PM
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