Musty odor, Crawl space, Dirt floor


Old 11-08-03, 07:30 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Musty odor, Crawl space, Dirt floor

We have an approx. 1400 sq ft pier and beam house built in 1959. The crawl space underneath has a dirt floor (with some rather uncomfortable large, sharp stones mixed in) and vent openings around the foundation walls. We don't detect a mold problem but see where some has grown in the past. It seems to have been related to a roof leak and mold was inside a wall inside the house as well. But, we seem to have that taken care of.

We have the original wood flooring throughout the house except for ceramic tile in the kitchen/breakfast area. We have caulked all around the baseboards, filled in around the plumbing and attempted to close up as many openings to the crawl space as possible. Still, we get some of the musty smell from underneath. It is that smell that you smell in the clothes of older people who live in older houses like this.

I'm pretty sensitive to it and am searching for ways to get rid of it. I've read posts about putting down a plastic vapor barrier but am very wary of creating a mold problem. That would be worse for me as I'm pretty seriously allergic to that. (Was sick for a month as a kid as a result of mold in the back of my closet from a roof leak).

In the thread, "Basement w/ dirt floor & humidity", it was mentioned that plastic was put down and immediately started growing mold under it. That is what I'm worried about with us. I'm wondering if laying it down but not attaching it to the walls would minimize the smell but allow some air to get under it and not let the mold grow?

I read Doug Aleshire's post where he gave thorough explanation of how to lay out a plastic vapor barrier. That was in the thread titled, "What’s the best way to adhere polyethylene vapor barrier to block Foundation?" So, if we do it, at least I know how.

I've also heard of putting lime or zeolite down there to capture the smell. Has anyone heard of that?

Does anyone have any other thoughts on ways to get rid of the smell?

(If it helps to know, there doesn't seem to be excessive moisture under there either.... now that we've added some dirt around the outside so the water doesn't flow toward the house when it rains.)

Sponsored Links
Old 11-11-03, 07:31 AM
Doug Aleshire's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 4,680

The musty smell is probably due to high humidity levels and you may have some moisture permeation through the soils which may get worse during wet seasons. The only way to know for sure is to measure the moisture levels of the various surfaces. The use of the poly is a good way to reduce the effect it has to the living space of the home.

Since you have done things to eliminate moisture from getting into the crawl space, the poly will definetly help in retaining the moisture to the soil only. The cause of excessive moisture, is probably entering through this. A dirt crawl space is the obvious possible source.

The placement of or spreading of the lime is more to help soak up any moisture than to elimiante or decrease the odor. Place a lump of dry charcoal in an open tin/metal container to absorb odors, surprisingly, this does help.

The key is to reduce the humidity level as much as possible which prevents the mold and mildew. If need be, measure the humidity and get it to a respectable level within the home. Allot of the mositure will be eliminated once you get the poly down in the crawl space.

Hope this helps!

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes