Finished basement has musty smell

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Old 10-20-15, 11:53 AM
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Finished basement has musty smell

My finished basement has a musty smell. I have the dehumidifier in there but its not doing much (set to 50%) The carpet is a year old I just replaced it and sealed the cement underneath it etc insulated. Any ideas?
 
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Old 10-20-15, 02:54 PM
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What's the actual humidity level in there?

Did you ever do a moisture test on the slab?
 
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Old 10-21-15, 05:45 AM
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I never did a moisture test on the slab. Today I hear the dehumidifier working. I guess since its a tad warmer here in Ny compared to yesterday. What should the humidity be in a basement in winter/summer? The dehumidifier is set to 50%. Here in NY Fall/winter temps in the day vary 30-60. Summer 70-90. Is there a different setting the dehumidifer should be on?
 
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Old 10-21-15, 08:20 AM
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50% is ok but have you actually measured the humidity down there? It sounds like you're assuming the dehumidifier is accurate.
 
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Old 10-22-15, 08:54 AM
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I placed a humidity reader in the basement I will give it some time to give me an accurate reading. I have the dehumidifier on to see if it matches at 50%. SHould I take another reading with dehumidifier off as well? I can turn it off overnight and tomorrow morning take a reading with it off to see the differences. I will report back. Thanks
 
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Old 10-22-15, 09:09 AM
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Moisture issues in basements are very common and often difficult to eliminate. Some points to check.

Is the current dehumidifier removing a lot of water? We assume it is, so where is that moisture coming from. Options are, floor, walls, water leaks, or outside air. For comparison, outside humidity is based upon outside temperatures. Bring that air inside (it is constantly leaking into your basement) and warm it up and the RH number goes down. Here's a calculator to play with.
Temperature, Dewpoint, and Relative Humidity Calculator
Typical winter results are, outside air ends up being dryer than house air and more so as the temperatures drop.

Do you know how the walls were insulated behind the finishing you see?
Do you know if all moisture issues were eliminated before it was finished?
Carpet on a basement floor is often a problem and sealing and waterproofing techniques from the inside will most likely fail. Why was the old carpet removed and in addition to the sealing you mentioned, what else did you install?

When you take any RH reading in the basement, also record the temperature at the exact same location. Temperatures next to exterior walls may be lower than interior temps. That calculator will illustrate the difference.

Bud
 
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Old 10-22-15, 02:04 PM
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with what did you 'seal' the concrete ? fresh air exchanger should resolve this issue
 
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Old 10-26-15, 05:51 PM
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The humidity level shows around 55-60. The dehumidifier is set to 50%. The odd thing is the moisture its pulling out is so minute. In the summer when I have it it pulls alot of water out. Should I lower the dehumidifier level?
 
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Old 10-26-15, 06:10 PM
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Air temperature will affect how well a dehumidifier is working. If it is cool/cold down there you might need a unit specifically rated for colder temperatures. But for now, yes turn the setting down and see if it increases the output.

"The humidity level shows around 55-60" at what temperature?
As air cools the rh number goes up and as it warms the number goes down. Here is a calculator to play with. Temperature, Dewpoint, and Relative Humidity Calculator

Bud
 
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Old 10-27-15, 05:28 AM
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55-60% is to high. Mold will grow at those levels. Lower the rh a bit more.
 
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Old 10-27-15, 08:58 AM
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So the dehumidifier is on and the humidity is quite a bit higher that the setting on the dehumidifier? I'm wondering if it's not working well.
 
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Old 10-27-15, 06:09 PM
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The existing carpet was ripped up because it was old and my wife wanted all the previous owners stuff replaced. The house was built in the 60's and the carpet looked old. It was replaced along with the tiles underneath and concrete was sealed as best as possible along with new padding for the basement and carpeting. The walls are sheetrocked with good insulation on the outside walls.

In the summer the adjoining laundry/boiler room has the dehumidifier set at 50% and it pulls alot of moisture out. This room has the central air on during the summer. The dehumidifier is brand new meant for large rooms and got great reviews.

The room as of now shows inside temp 66 humidity 56 outside temp 47. I set the dehumidifier at 45%. The basement has heat which I need to get fixed before the winter. I would think the heat would help in the winter.
 
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Old 10-27-15, 07:08 PM
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I would think the heat would help in the winter.
Yes but the source of the moisture needs to be found. I wouldn't expect a house from the '60's to be especially air tight but that can be a problem, especially in newer homes.
 
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Old 10-28-15, 07:12 AM
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Your description of your finished basement sounds typical for a 60's home and, unfortunately so does the musty smell that accompanies all of those homes. The link below will explain how a basement should be done and the consequences of how they have been done.

Now, I can't see inside those walls, but the illustration in that link with fiberglass insulation covered with a vapor barrier and loaded with mold, I have seen and they have all been accompanied by the musty smell.

A dehumidifier can help control the RH in the air in the basement, but the musty smell originating before the moisture evaporated into the air. Floors or walls, I can't say, but the smell is not coming from upstairs or outside.

Bud
Understanding Basements | Building Science Corporation
 
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Old 10-28-15, 09:39 AM
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Thanks for the article. So heating the basement won't have any effect. Unfortunately when i moved in 5 years ago I covered the paneling with sheetrock so I am not going to reopen the walls anytime soon. Thanks
 
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Old 10-28-15, 09:55 AM
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Don't feel like you did anything wrong. A generation or two ago when they decided convert those basements from just holding up our homes to quality living space they never addressed the issues we face today. making that more complicated, we now want to tighten up our homes to reduce the energy costs.

When we can't stop the moisture getting in, then we turn to the dehumidifiers, the dryer the better.

Address everything you can to move the rain run-off away from the foundation.

Bud
 
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Old 10-28-15, 10:31 AM
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originally man was lived in caves which, somehow, translated into bsmnts over the years now we have to adjust
 
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