Getting Rid of "That Smell"

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 by Amanda Waldmann

Musty. Moldy. Rank. Closed off. Rotting. Wet dog. Gym bag. Old shoe. Trash can. Our customers have used many colorful terms to describe what’s wafting out of their basement or crawl space, but the one thing they can agree on is that it’s terrible, and they want it gone.


We talk about “that smell” a lot, especially at the beginning of spring, but today we’re going to talk about it again. Because it’s gross. And because, if you have any water issues in your home - even just high humidity - you know the smell we’re talking about.


Before we talk about how to get rid of it, let’s go over The Smell’s origin story again. For the sake of this explainer, let’s say you have a basement. When water comes in - whether it’s through cracks in your foundation, up through the floor due to hydrostatic pressure, or even from a leaking window - it can set problems in motion. Even if you can’t see standing water, but feel a general clamminess in the air, your basement is at risk.


Water, be it standing or ambient (aka humidity) is one of the two things necessary to harbor and spread mold. The other is a food source - any kind of organic material will do. Wooden joists, the paper backing on fiberglass insulation, and cardboard boxes are all pretty common in basements, and provide a tasty snack for mold spores. As mold grows and spreads, The Smell grows, and can be circulated through your home through the HVAC system or even microscopic gaps between the joists and the house. Once mold spores have taken root, colonies grow and spread quickly, and a small problem can get out of control.


Now that we’ve covered how mold - and The Smell - form, we can talk about how to get rid of it. Since you can’t really get rid of the organic material in your basement (the boxes could be moved but those wooden joists are...kind of important), eliminating the water is the way to go.


The first step to water mitigation is identifying the source of the leak and repairing it. This might mean a waterproofing system in your basement or encapsulation in your crawl space. But if your water issues are more of the ambient variety than a visible leak, a dehumidifier is a must. Dehumidifiers remove water from the air until humidity reaches the desired level. This makes the environment inhospitable to mold and eradicates the funky smells, keeping your whole home fresher. (Pro tip: If your bathroom has a musty smell despite running the vent fan, try a portable tabletop dehumidifier.)


Repairing the problems that allow moisture to enter and then putting systems in place to prevent recurrence is key to keeping your home safe, comfortable, and free of gross smells emanating from below. Call us today to schedule your free inspection and ask how a dehumidifier can help you.


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Ayers Basement Systems
2505 S. Waverly Hwy
Lansing, MI 48911
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