Musty Smells In The Basement: Causes, Risks, and Solutions

Unless your washer and dryer is in your basement you may not be in the lowest level of your home all that often. The last time you went down to the basement to retrieve your camping gear, put away the Christmas decorations, or do laundry, were you overwhelmed with a musty smell?

That musty smell is more than just an affront to your nose, it can actually be hazardous to your health. Before you get out the baking soda or Febreze to mask the odor, you may need to get to the source of the problem.

A musty smell in the basement is often caused by mold or mildew. These fungi thrive in humid environments and can release spores into the air, causing respiratory problems in some people. In addition, mold and mildew can damage clothing, furniture, and other items stored in the basement.

Woman holding nose due to awful musty smell

Is It Normal For Basements To Smell Musty?

That musty smell coming from your basement is usually an indication of the presence of mold and/or mildew. As mold grows it emits gasses that give off an odor and produce that musty smell. You may actually smell the mold before you can see it. Given that your basement generally does not have natural sunlight or lots of airflow, it creates the perfect breeding ground for mold to grow when moisture is present.

How To Get Rid Of That Musty Smell In Your Basement

Once you find the source of your mold and/or mildew it needs to be removed. If the mold is contained in a small area you should be able to clean and remove the mold yourself. When you work to clean the mold, be sure to shut down your HVAC system to prevent mold spores from traveling through the air into the rest of your house.

There are a number of ways to prevent or reduce musty smells in the basement, including:

repair of basement

Improving ventilation

Basements should be well-ventilated to prevent moisture buildup. Make sure there are no leaky windows or doors, and use a dehumidifier to remove excess humidity from the air.

Keeping Things Dry

Water is the primary source of moisture for mold and mildew growth. promptly repair any leaks in plumbing or the foundation, and mop up any water spills immediately. store firewood and other things that could become wet at least 18 inches off the ground.

Cleaning Regularly

Regularly sweep, dust, and vacuum the basement to reduce mold spores in the air. In addition, clean any mold or mildew growths with a commercial cleaner or a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water).

Basement Waterproofing

While there are a number of ways to combat this problem, one of the most effective is to waterproof the basement. This will help to prevent moisture from seeping in and causing mold and mildew to grow. In addition, waterproofing the basement will also help to keep the air inside the basement dry, which will reduce the chances of the musty smell developing. There are a number of different basement waterproofing products on the market, so it is important to consult with a professional basement waterproofing contractor. With a little bit of effort, you can eliminate the musty smell in your basement and create a more comfortable living space.

Diagnosing the source of the mold may take professional help. If you haven’t experienced a recent flood in your basement, moisture is getting into your basement from another source. It could be caused by high humidity or a leak in your foundation walls or floor. It’s best to contact a professional that can find the source and determine the best plan of action.

If you are experiencing a musty smell in your basement, My Foundation Repairs can connect you with an expert to diagnose the source of the smell and provide a long-term solution.

How Long Does Crawl Space Encapsulation Last


Crawl Space Repair, Waterproofing

How Long Does Crawl Space Encapsulation Last If you’re like most homeowners, you probably don’t give much thought to your crawl space unless there’s a problem. But the truth is, your crawl space plays an important role in your home’s overall health and performance. That’s why it’s important to make sure your crawl space is…

Read More



All Articles, Basement Waterproofing, Waterproofing

HOW LONG DOES BASEMENT WATERPROOFING LAST? No one ever plans on their basement flooding, but it happens to the best of us. Once the water is out and the repairs are made, you may be wondering how long your basement will be waterproof. Basement waterproofing can last for years if done properly, but there are…

Read More

Exterior Drainage Options for Your Home


All Articles, Basement Waterproofing, Waterproofing

Exterior Drainage Options for Your Home No one wants water leaking into their home through cracks in the foundation, running down the walls, or pooling around the property. Exterior drainage systems are an important part of keeping your home dry and safe from damage. There are a few different options available, so read on to…

Read More