Getting rid of musty smell


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Old 07-10-13, 09:04 AM
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Getting rid of musty smell

I purchased a home that we're in the process of renovating for a rental unit. It is about 65 years old with a crawlspace and wood floor. When we're done it will have new flooring (carpet and tile), mostly new sheetrock and new paint. It will also have new central HVAC with ducts through the attic. (Along with new plumbing and electrical). Underneath the house is dry.

Right now it has that old house musty smell. Will that go away and stay away with the new paint and carpet, or will it come back in a year or so? Is there anything I can do to seal the wood floors so that the musty smell doesn't come up from the crawlspace?
 
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Old 07-10-13, 09:46 AM
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A dehumidifier in the house will probably help with the musty smell.

Crawl spaces are frequently sources of excess humidity. Regarding the crawl space,what type floor does it have? If the CS floor is dirt, is the dirt covered with plastic sheeting, or other vapor barrier? If not, you should consider doing that. If the floor is concrete can you tell if moisture is passing through it into the CS? If so, there are several options, that hopefully, the more experienced folks in this topic will provide.
Good luck with the house.
 
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Old 07-10-13, 09:56 AM
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The crawlspace floor is just dirt with no covering.
 
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Old 07-11-13, 03:09 PM
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The crawlspace floor is just dirt with no covering.
I'd suggest that one of the things you need to do is cover the dirt floor with plastic sheeting, seams, if any taped, and have the plastic run up the side walls, at least 6-12 inches, also taped to the walls.

I'm not sure about the required thickness of the plastic, but hopefully someone with more experience can add info. If you look around/search in this subforum, you'll probably find a bunch of useful details.
Good Luck!
 
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Old 07-11-13, 03:33 PM
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Hi Jim,
Even though a crawl space looks dry, that is usually because the moisture is evaporating before it can reach the surface. If the soil outside is moist, than that moisture will try to move through the concrete or under it to get to the dry areas.

6 mil or as thick as 10 mil (if you will be walking on it a lot) is recommended. Adding an inch or thicker rigid foam to the crawl walls will insulate and further slow moisture penetration. Once sealed, including the house to foundation, it can be treated as conditioned space and no more musty smell. Not always, but frequently that musty smell is mold or mildew.

Bud
 
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Old 07-12-13, 09:20 AM
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Thanks, so once we've completed the plumbing work, and everybody's done crawling around down there, I can go in with the plastic sheeting. That sounds good; hopefully that will keep the 'new house smell' from being overcome by a '60 year old house smell' anytime soon.
 
  #7  
Old 07-12-13, 12:32 PM
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Here's some reading on crawl space issues.
BSI-009: New Light In Crawlspaces — Building Science Information

Bud
 
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Old 07-15-13, 10:01 AM
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Bud,
If the musty smell is mold or mildew will putting down the plastic sheeting fix the mold and mildew problem or do you have to do another step?

DPForumDog
 
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Old 07-15-13, 10:17 AM
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Mold spores are everywhere so not much you can do to the soil beyond encapsulating and isolating it. If any mold has formed on the wood framing it can be cleaned, but reducing the humidity level will stop it from growing. IMO, it is always a good idea to remove any visual signs of mold or mildew. If you disturb it, be sure to wear a good mask and vent the crawl to the outside so you don't spread those spores through the house. I believe there are spray on products that will encapsulate it.

Bud
 
 

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