Go Back  DoItYourself.com Community Forums > Interior Improvement Center > Basements, Attics and Crawl Spaces
Reload this Page >

Basement Insulation & musty smell in potential house

Basement Insulation & musty smell in potential house

Old 03-17-15, 07:26 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 10
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Question Basement Insulation & musty smell in potential house

Glad I found this forum. I need some advice regarding potential problems in the basement of a house (our 1st) we are considering buying.

The house was built in 1974 and the basement was completely refinished in 2002, by a contractor. There was an issue with Pyrite (a common problem in homes of that vintage in the area) and the owner decided to have the whole foundation redone and the basement refinished.

Issue #1: There is a water shut-off access trap in the bottom 1/3rd of the wall. When you open the panel there is no visible insulation in the immediate vicinity where the water pipes are. I tried feeling around but it seemed to be just inner wall, dead space & then concrete foundation. The owner did not know what type of insulation was used (or if any). I was alarmed by this but later read that *sometimes* only the top half of a wall is insulated to avoid condensation. I also got the feeling reading about this that this is more *old school* and not a modern (2002) technique AND not ideal in our Canadian climate. The room/floor did not feel particularly cold.

Issue#2: During that renovation the owner had a basement bathroom done with an encapsulated, cabin-type shower. There is a slight musty smell in the basement. There is a closet that backs onto that shower and when I stuck my nose in there, the smell was slightly stronger. The shower stall stops about a foot from the top wall and I noticed that the flange around the shower arm is completely loose. But its pretty high. It seems far-fetched that that would be the main problem. There is a fan in the bathroom but I put a kleenex up to it and it did not suck it up.

And last thing; the electrical panel is located opposite the shower (doh!). She knows its not code. That gave us pause as to who did this whole job in the first place. We don't have kids so are not worried about injury. Could that issue alone cause resale/insurance issues?

We would have an inspection done, no question about that, but we are hoping to get a sense of potential problems before we reach that stage. We're also counting on using the basement since the house in not very large.

Old 03-17-15, 08:10 AM
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Nova Scotia
Posts: 750
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
You are correct that some contractors only used to insulate the top half of the wall (or not at all). It is not standard practice in my opinion, and is a sign of the contractor (or homeowner) more concerned about saving money than doing a proper job.

Most likely the musty smell is from a leak around the shower, and standing water, probably under the shower. only way to know for sure is to open up a wall and take a look.

Have your insurance company do a walk through of the house before you put an offer in. They will be able to tell you what, if anyting, needs to be brought up to code before they will insure it.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: