Busted pipe, wet stagnant crawlspace HELP

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  #1  
Old 03-25-12, 08:13 PM
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Busted pipe, wet stagnant crawlspace HELP

Starting yesterday I started smelling this stagnant water smell in our living room. I searched the whole house trying to find out where it was coming from. I was just sure we didnt have a leak anywhere, but proved myself wrong.

Anyways, we have a crawlspace and its always dry. I went under to look for standing water and found three spots where water was standing. Basically years ago, we had dogs that loved to get under there in the summer to stay cool, and they dug some holes and the water was standing in those holes and it was stagnant. One puddle was right under the A/C Return, the hole was probably about 3 feet wide and 2 inches deep. The rest of the crawlspace was dry, except around the leaky kitchen sink drain pipe.

I guess I should add that we did find the leak, it was from the kitchen sink. One of the main drainage pipes (cast iron) has a leak, and it was close to that area with the hole so it just filled it along with two other holes nearby. We have now fixed the leak, scooped out all the water but still wet mud remains.
We cannot afford any costly repairs or repairmen. Its just not possible. We are BROKE! And I mean seriously, we'll have to borrow the money from family members to do anything else.

Our concern now is the wet mud and the stagnant smell still lingering underneath and in the house. We are not running the A/C at this time cause its just not hot enough. So ive covered the return with a blanket for now to kind of keep the smell out.

How long will it take for that area to dry out? What can I do to rush this along? Like I said the leak is fixed, but wet stagnant mud remains. I need a cheap fix seriously. I just want to rush the drying process, use something to absorb the remaining moisture and get rid of the smell.

And aside from getting it dry underneath again what other steps should i take for inside the house? Should I was the walls down as well? Ive heard walls will hold the smell.

Please help!!!
 
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  #2  
Old 03-25-12, 10:14 PM
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The first thing I would do is look for mold and if there is any mold at all use some bleach to wash it away. Look especially for black mold that is the worst but other molds are bad too. Once you get rid of the mold if there is any try a new box of absorbent clay cat litter it is cheap and you can use it on the wet spots.
Was the pipe leak taken care of by a plumber? if not it still may be leaking and you really should have a plumber take a look at it. If you are satisfied that any mold is gone and all leaks are taken care of having some fans temporarily under the crawl space should help to speed up the drying process. When money is not as tight as it is now I would also have a duct cleaning service come out as there may be some mold that has migrated to the vents. I would also have them seal and insulate all duct work as that will prevent any future migration into the duct work. I wish you luck in getting rid of your moisture problem.
 
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Old 03-26-12, 09:46 AM
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Thank you so much for replying. I have kept an eye out for the leak all night and day and it is NOT leaking anymore. I now have two Stanley work shop fans underneath the house circulating air near the moisture spots. I also checked this morning and saw no mold spots anywhere.

I have a very sensitive nose and I can smell things like you wouldn't believe. I'm sure mold can grow quickly but I feel that we caught this early because if it had been going on a long time I would have got a whiff of it by now and I feel that there would have been more water. I checked the wood underneath as well and its all dry and no mold or mildew anywhere.

I just don't understand what the smell is. I can only guess that it is a stagnant water smell. So we got the leak fixed, in the process of drying it now I just want the darn smell gone. If i stick my nose to the return I still smell it cause it was right under it. And I know this can cause many problems and I hope Ive taken care of those by fixing the leak and drying. I know I shouldnt be, but right now I am so concerned with the smell cause its driving me nuts.

Again though, thank you so very much. If you have anything else to add feel free to do so.
 
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Old 03-26-12, 07:53 PM
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You are certainly welcome I am glad I could help. I am not an expert but like watching a great deal of This Old House and other shows. I don't really have much more to add except to say when you can make sure you get the ducts cleaned and it is especially important in your case since you have just a crawl space. As for sealing the duct like I mentioned before you might be able to do that on your own but when you do look for a special duct sealing mastic that you paint on around the seams. Not duct tape although foil based duct tape is better than nothing. The older style duct tape with the cloth in it will eventually just fall off from moisture and so can the foil based kind but not as quickly so the mastic is the best. I found an interesting article on mastic you might want to read especially if you decide to do it yourself here is the link Sealing Ducts: What . I also found a mastic manufacturers website here is their link Duct Sealant | RCD Corporation® | Save Energy | Mastic - RCD Corporation . This is for RCD duct sealant I don't endorse the company as I have never heard of it but it has prices and videos on how to use the mastic. The mastic isn't cheap at $23.00 for a gallon on their website but I think worth it and keep in mind you only need it along the seams. You may be able though to find it locally cheaper from a supply house. So that would be a start when you can do it. I wish you luck and I am glad you didn't see any mold on the wood of your house.
 
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Old 03-27-12, 04:11 AM
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Once the fans have it dried out, a vapor barrier of heavy plastic sheeting - fairly inexpensive - over the soil might also help alleviate any odors coming up.
 
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Old 03-27-12, 06:10 AM
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It sounds like this is a dirt floored crawlspace which is vented to the house rather than the outside. If so, the fans will help but a dehumidifier would speed up the process (since the weather is not consistent with AC use). As Tow Guy said, once this is dry, all of the dirt should be covered with plastic and taped several inches up the walls to keep moisture from coming up into the house.
 
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Old 03-27-12, 11:47 PM
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I agree having the plastic down will help a great deal. Towguy and Mitch are right it does kind of sound like you are not getting enough ventilation in the crawl space which can lead to mold if it hasn't already gone in the furnace vents. I think some vent grills on the sides of your house are in order as soon as you can afford them they will allow air to circulate better and not so much through your house.
Also as financing gets better consider sprayed in foam insulation underneath your floor but not just any kind the closed cell kind is what you need there. Not only will it keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer but it will not allow mold spores to come through your flooring. It is though expensive so I would just put that on the to do list for now as you need a professional to do that job.
 
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Old 03-28-12, 07:58 AM
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Closed cell spray foam is great, cheaper improvement can be made by tacking 2" XPS foam boards underneath and sealing it to the walls and all of the joints with tape.
 
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Old 03-29-12, 09:47 PM
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Thanks

Id like to thank everyone for their advice. As soon as funds are better I am going
to check into the plastic. Its and old house and they're several vents on the
foundation all around the house. There is no way to close them. They're just there, like they were built into the foundation. I've still got the fan going and placed a
piece of lattice in front of the entrance instead of closing it all the way off. The
Lattice is there to keep the dogs out.

My son and I have been checking and checking to make sure there are no more
leaks and thus far have found none. What we did find though was disgusting. On
day three of the smell we went under again to check for mold and mildew, none in sight anywhere, but we found lots and lots of kitchen sink gunk where the pipe had burst and by smelling it, it's the exact same smell I'm smelling in the house.

We dug out every bit of it into buckets and removed it, but the smell is still there. I will be honest, what we got out made a big difference in the smell in the house,
but I still can catch a whiff of it often. We put down baking soda and pine sol, and
I've got $20 worth of air fresheners and still smell that gunk. I'm getting disappointed and feel that the entire smell will never go away. :-(

I'm coming very close although I've read not to, but I'm coming close to
purchasing some lime. Maybe if I covered the still damp mud with some fresh dirt. I don't know, but the smell is driving me insane. I've got candles burning,incense, air freshener sitting down inside my return, sprayed pine sol. I'm close to going back under and soaking the entire section with gallons and gallons of pine sol.

It's the gunk that usually stops up people's kitchen sinks that I'm smelling. Black
greyish color, looks greasy and all mixed in with mud. The leaks are gone, there is no mold so now I'm just concentrating on the smell. Why everywhere I read people say lime, but others say don't do it. I don't care at this point, I want the smell gone.
 
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Old 03-30-12, 07:15 AM
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Wait a minute - this space is vented to the outside and the inside? You want one or the other, not both.

It sounds like you will have more trouble closing off the outside access than the inside, so I'd close this off to the house, put poly on the ground and insulate under the floor above.
 
  #11  
Old 03-31-12, 01:20 AM
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I don't know, I'm confused

All I know is its an old house. Theyre vents in the foundation all around the house, I assume to let air into the crawlspace, small oval shaped vents, in sets of threes. When central air was installed the house there was two old floor furnaces inside, one in the living room and one in the hall, which they converted to returns, cause in those two old floor furnaces is where we change our filters. The hot air I guess it
sucked out through these returns ( old floor furnaces) and is pulled thru the duct
work as the duct work is connected to both returns.
 
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Old 04-02-12, 06:41 AM
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OK, let's start simply - it's either vented to the outside or it isn't. From the sound of it, you have open vents in the foundation to the outside, so it would be vented to the outside. It's also either vented to the inside or it isn't - this is less clear as I re-read your posts but it sounds like you have a cold air return in there or something like that.

First step, determine what you have. Second, as mentioned, you do not want your crawlspace vented both to the outside and inside of the house so, if it is, you need to determine which you want and which to close off.

Also, I know you're trying to eliminate an odor but all the liquid you're pouring in there is just prolonging the drying time.
 
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