musty crawl space odors

Old 09-14-01, 10:49 AM
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Greetings: We have a 30 year old house sitting on a 4 foot crawlspace. The crawlspace is covered with heavy plastic over the dirt. It is never wet. Over the last 30 years there has been a huge buildup of dust on the plastic. We have an open-duct furnace system, where there are ducts to the rooms from the furnace, but the returns are just open air returns in which the heated air goes down into the crawlspace.This keeps the pipes from freezing and the floors quite warm. The last few years there hasbeen a musty odor coming up thru the open return ducts from the crawl space.My husband says there are no vents to the outside because of the system we have,so we cannot close or open them. He believes that the dust in the crawlspace is causing the musty odor but we can't vacuum it because the plastic would be sucked into the vacuum hose. What is the solution? I have thought of placing a new layer of plastic over the old, but he is not too interested in that as he says it would be a huge job.We are very tired of the nasty odor, not to mention embarrassed when company comes. Help!! Thank you!! Marian
Old 09-14-01, 03:57 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
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Musty crawl space

I am looking forward to seeing a heating expert respond to your post. I have lived in a lot of houses and have never had a system such as yours where the heat goes into the crawl space. Thus, I am looking forward to learning more about it.

Most construction recommendations I have read about and experienced require adequate foundation ventilation with no dead air pockets so the air in the crawl space is well ventilated. Musty smells usually indicate mold/mildew. Mold/mildew likes dark/damp places. The spores are airborne and when they find a spot to set up housekeeping, they settle in.

I don't quite understand the dust, unless it is coming out of the duct work. It is possible that the dust is drawing moisture and mold/mildew and creating the odor.

Mold/mildew is not healthy. Much has been in the new lately about its causing allergies, respiratory, and other health problems. Black mold stachybotrys has been the cause of fatal pulmonary conditions.

Your situation needs to be further investigated.

Best regards.

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