Seeing as many of your neighbors’ basements smell similar, it’s turned into a social norm that all basements have a musty or damp odor to them. Not only is this considered normal it is now also considered “expected.” This however, is not the reality, and many homeowners, new and old, have had a hard time recently getting their heads around why this shouldn’t be considered acceptable.
Odors and smells originate from processes, in this case the damp or musty odors are originating from moisture in the air. When moisture in the air is at a normal level, you typically don’t smell anything, heck, there’s moisture in the air all the time and you can’t smell it.
So why do you smell it in the basement and not some other part of your home?
You smell it all the time in your bathroom after a shower, or in the kitchen after cooking a pasta dish; extra moisture in the air is the cause of the musty smell in the basement air. One problem with the basement is that this moisture can collect and linger, which makes these smells worse. The other is that the basement is constantly subjected to inward migration of moisture through the foundation walls and floors. The basement will never stop getting moisture and airflow from the soil around your foundation.
By not addressing these smells you are basically letting moisture sit in your basement or you're allowing for the cause of the moisture in the basement go unchecked. This can lead to a few things that are much larger problems:
1.) Mold and Mildew – they both need a cool, dark, and damp place to live. Excess moisture makes it easier for mold to grow and spread in the basement. Even in small amounts mold and mildew can cause serious health problems and can potentially damage property (finished walls, carpets, clothes, etc.).
2.) Ruined Insulation – Even if a small amount of moisture accumulates in your insulation, up to 95% of it’s R-Value can be rendered useless.
3.) Damp Finished walls – Sagging ceilings, warped floors and other damage can drastically affect the mood and feel of a finished space.
4.) Unusable space – High enough moisture and humidity levels in a basement can really make the space unpleasant to be in.
5.) Damaged property – TVs, Electronics, and leather couches are all very temperature and moisture sensitive. If you’re placing any of these things in the finished space of your basement, and you still have a smell/odor caused by a moisture issue, you could be throwing money out the window.
6.) Unaddressed leak or flooding potential – Sometimes the moisture is a key indicator that there is an active leak or history with flooding and water. Repairing cracks, addressing leaks, and installing moisture control can help to solve these issues.
Thinking that the smell in the basement is “okay” or “normal” is one of the Top 6 Most Common Basement Mistakes that homeowners and builders make. The good news is that the mind set is changing in homeowners and many are becoming more home health conscious which is forcing them to look at their basement for potential problems.
picture thanks to http://www.arborteas.com/