The air quality in your basement may be the worst in your entire home. Basements are usually associated with musty, stale or damp smelling air. Depending on the cause, some of these smells may be dangerous to your health.
However, there maybe things that you can’t smell that are also health risks. Lets look at basement odors and things that may reduce the air quality in your basement to help you better answer “Basement Odor Causes What’s That Smell ?”
Basement Odor Causes
Typically, the underlying causes of odors in the basement are poor air circulation and excessive moisture. While you might think of it as normal, that “musty” smell shouldn’t be ignored because It may be coming from mold spores.
Do you think your basement is safer just because it is finished ? You may want to rethink that ! Finished basements can also have mildew and mold hiding where it can not be detected. If the basement floor has carpet, the carpet could be a hidden source of that “musty” odor. Carpet has padding and will absorb moisture so check on your carpet as well as padding and fabric on your basement furnishings.
The basement usually house the furnace, hot water tank, clothes washer and dryer and possibly your freezer. Some of these may run on natural gas or propane these appliances will also give off an odor. If your furnace is oil you surly will have an odor of furnace oil usually from spills during annual servicing.
If you keep household maintenance items and tools, such as paint, gardening supplies, such as fertilizer you may have many odors in your basement. Outdoor tools such as gas-powered mowers or chain saws and hedge trimmers can lead to smells because of the gas and oil they require to function. You should ensure that your basement is well ventilated if this is the case. These odors can be hazardous to your health, if the basement isn’t allowed to breathe and air flow is restricted.
Air Quality Hazards That are Odorless
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. Carbon monoxide is very toxic and is the most common cause of air poisoning. The main cause of carbon monoxide in homes, is malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances. Furnaces, ranges and hot water heaters that are not functioning properly can be a source of carbon monoxide. This is usually due to mechanical failure or differed maintenance both will definitely increase the risk of having carbon monoxide in your home. This is one of the many reasons you should never use a gas grill or gas generator indoors. I know this sounds like common sense but hundreds of people die and thousands are from this annually. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in the same rooms as gas fired appliances is your first line of defense.
Methane is another odorless gas and can literally be very deadly. While methane, itself is odorless, some of the odors that usually accompany it are not. Methane is most often associated with sewage problems. If you smell sewage in your basement bathroom or any room in your house methane will very likely also be present.
Air Quality Hazards and How to fix them
So how do we fix all of these smells and odorless hazards that put you air quality your health, and even your home at risk ? You can certainly start by having an air quality test done on your home. This will definitely help you determine what areas you will need to work on.
Also, you can test the humidity level in your basement by simply placing a clear plastic sheet on the floor. After a day or two check the plastic sheet. If condensation has formed under the plastic, the humidity in your basement is too high.
You can choose to use a dehumidifier in that area to help control the problem. There are many good dehumidifiers that are fairly cheap and are widely available in most areas.
The biggest problems people run into when using dehumidifiers is not keeping them emptied. This is a problem because the water that was extracted from the air, ends up being deposited back on the floor. This renders the entire idea unless.
Do you think you may have water leaks?
Check the basement floor, walls, ceiling, and the perimeter of your home foundation for cracks. Fill the cracks your self when possible and call a professional when extra help is required. Have you seen any mildew or mold ? Mold is common it is always in the air we breathe daily so don’t panic .
Any mold problems less than ten square feet can be handled by a homeowner. Simply clean the area with a mixture of borax and water.**Warning it is recommended that bleach never be used to clean up mold .
If you have mold, there will be water present somewhere, even you can not see it. After you have cleaned up the mildew or mold find and fix any water leaks. The leak maybe from an underground pipe or a pipe in your wall. You may need to hire a professional plumber, this will depend on your skill level and the complexity of the repair. If the leak isn’t fixed correctly you will have ongoing problems so deal with it now before more damage is caused. Monitor the area for any further problems
Enhance your ventilation and air circulation systems.
Installing a heater with a fan a dehumidifier or a ceiling type fan in the basement will help with the air quality. Any time you can move air in your home you are helping with the quality of the air. If you use a space heater be very aware. Space heater fires are a regular occurrence across the country so use them with caution. If you continue to have odors you can’t deal with them, you may need to call in an air quality control specialist. These are trained professionals that can help you pinpoint the problem and create a plan of action.
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Thank you Rick