The smell of wet dog coming from your basement isn’t just unpleasant, it can also be alarming. The musty odor coming from your basement is usually a result of moisture, which leads to mold. Once a colony of mold starts to form, the spores from the fungi float through the air and permeate the space with a distinctive smell. No matter how much you spray, mop, or sweep, you won’t be easily rid of the odor. However, you shouldn’t give up on your mold remediation efforts. You can get rid of the smell, though you may need to backtrack your solution to address the mold.
In this post, we’ll share exactly how to get rid of that nasty mold smell in your basement.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a fungus that feeds on organic matter, such as wood, paper, fabric, and more. It requires oxygen and moisture to thrive, and it really likes damp, dark spaces to set up house. Because of the environment, mold is particularly happy growing basements.
Though it’s a common problem, it isn’t a good one to have, and it should be addressed accordingly. People can find themselves suffering from symptoms of a runny nose, fatigue, headaches, wheezing, coughing, or watery eyes when they are exposed to moldy conditions for an extended period of time. Black mold is a fungus that causes more serious health concerns. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, tightening of the chest, dizziness, burning sensations in the throat or nose, and cognitive disruption. Though it isn’t the most dangerous of the mold species, it is definitely one you want to avoid growing in your home.
Mold isn’t just damaging to your health. It can also wreak havoc on the structural integrity of your home. The fungus requires moisture to grow, and water damage from a leak, flooding, or poor circulation is just one potential problem. Not only do you have to worry about the boards, drywall, ceiling tiles, or other elements that may be slowly rotting, but the mold itself also can degrade these areas. Mold growth can leave a dark stain, but it also can cause decay in wood studs, eat away at your wallpaper, or thoroughly damage your carpets or flooring. This kind of growth requires professional remediation before undertaking expensive repairs.
What Does Mold Look Like?
If you aren’t sure what mold looks like, think green, brown, or black spots growing along walls and window sills, around air vents, or on furnishings.
You can also look for signs of stains on walls, ceilings, or flooring. Bubbling or peeling in paint, wallpaper, or drywall could indicate the mold is growing unseen. Anywhere water damage has occurred or there are high levels of moisture in the air are key spots to investigate for mold. Kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and attics are other places in the house to check when looking for mold.
How To Get Rid of Mold Smell in Your Basement
A basement with a musty, wet-dog odor is almost certain to have a problem with moisture. The smell is a sure sign that there is a problem with the air quality due to mold growth, as the conditions in the space are creating the perfect scene for a fungal colony.
There are several things you can do to get rid of this odor, but you have to stop the source of the moisture and prevent the growth of mold spores if you want to really solve the problem of the smell. Here are three things you can do about the mold problem:
Start addressing the mold problem by breaking down where the humidity or moisture is coming from. Basement windows are notorious for being sources of water leaks, but condensation dripping off of uninsulated pipes can create excess moisture in the air as well. You may see exposed pipes along the wall or ceiling in the basement, and if they aren’t insulated, get some foam pipe wrap at your local home improvement center. You can slip this covering over the pipe to prevent condensation. If there is an active leak, call a plumber.
If there is water puddling below a window or you see water running down the glass during a rainstorm, your windows may be contributing to the problem. Check the house’s gutters and make sure that water is diverted away from the area on the exterior of the house, removing any debris or leaves that are clogging up the outside window well. Take gravel and fill in the well to reduce the likelihood of another clog. Replace any old weather stripping or caulk to create a new fresh seal and stop small leaks along the window frame.
Water coming in through cracks in the basement wall or slowly seeping up from the floor at the foundation means you have a much bigger problem. You may need to install a sump pump or work with a contractor specializing in foundation repair or waterproofing to prevent further damage.
Being underground, the basement is usually much cooler than the rest of the home on the upper levels during warmer months. As the warm air circulates downstairs into the basement, it creates a problem. As the water vapor from the warmer air rapidly cools down in the colder climate of the basement, condensation occurs. This leaves a thin layer of moisture along anything stored in the basement, and it also covers the walls. Moisture from the soil can come into the basement from the foundation as well.
Indoor humidity should be between 30% and 50%. You can test your space with a hygrometer. If you have a musty smell and you have sourced the location of the moisture, invest in a dehumidifier to pull excess water out of the air. This makes it harder for mildew to grow in the basement. A compressor dehumidifier is good for basement areas as it works by sucking in the air from the room over a chilled coil. This causes the water vapor to condense into a storage tank that you can empty as needed.
You can only clean up the mold once you stopped the source of the moisture. For minor problems, isolated incidents with very little damage, you can clean off the mold and mildew yourself. However, for a more invasive problem with mold in your basement, you need to call our Mold Remediation specialists who can connect you with the best certified local mold remediation companies. You may be looking at spending at least $500 for professional mold removal, though the costs could soar upwards as you consider how much work is involved and the costs to repair structural damage.
Remove any cardboard, fabric, wood, or paper items that have gotten soggy sitting in the basement. These are prime feeding grounds for mold. Take whatever else you can (checking that is clean and free from mold) and pack it into plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. Wash whatever fabrics you can on the hottest setting with color-safe bleach to try to salvage what you can. You likely need to dispose of heavily infested and stinky furniture, though spot treatment may work on nonporous items that don’t have much evidence of damage or smell. You can use water and rubbing alcohol, bleach, white vinegar, tea tree oil, or a number of other cleaning solvents.
Use a bleach solution to scrub mold off of the walls, ceilings, floors, windows, or other compromised areas. Scrub with a stiff cleaning brush, then use clean water to wipe everything down once the mold spots have been removed. Open the windows or bring in fans to help bring air into the space to dry everything out.
Some strategically positioned bowls of baking soda can help absorb any residual smell, as can pans of kitty litter to absorb leftover moisture. Ultimately, the key to keeping the basement smelling clean is removing the source of mold growth. If you need help with this, call the experts at Mold Remediation.
Hiring a professional mold inspector will give you peace of mind. Being in a position where you are uncertain as to the toxicity of mold in your residence can be extremely stressful.
At moldremediation.io, we pride ourselves on being quick, thorough and effective in how we communicate the mold remediation tests that we perform for our homeowner clients.