What is That Basement Smell?

A Guide to the Smells Emanating From Your Basement

You open the door to your basement and notice an unpleasant smell emanating from down below. You try and place what it is in your head, but come up with zip, zero, nada! So what is that basement smell? Where is it coming from? Why is it happening? Here is a guide to some common odors you may have invading your residence from the deeper recesses of your home.

Mold & Mildew Odors

Moldy and musty odors are common basement smells that you may encounter.

Ever smell sweaty gym socks? Most likely you have…we’ve all been to gym class! Many times, the smell of mold and mildew growth in your basement is compared to sweaty gym socks. Yuck! Mold and mildew is also said to smell “earthy” or “musty” and the stronger the odor, the worse the problem may be. When you have mold and mildew, you may be looking at foundation or waterproofing issues such as cracks, bowing walls, or improper grading leading to leaks in your basement. You are suffering from too much moisture, and we recommend an inspection to determine the cause of the moisture or water in your basement.

Wood Rot

Wood rot can be caused by excessive moisture in your basement

You may like mushrooms, but when you have wood rot in your basement or crawlspace, you may smell an odor similar to mushrooms coming from down there. In this case, not so pleasant! Wood rot is also described similarly to mold and mildew as “earthy” or “musty”. Excessive moisture is a leading cause of wood rot, tying it to possible foundation and waterproofing issues. The stronger the smell, the more the wood rot has spread. Again, we recommend an inspection to determine the extent of your wood rot problem, and to diagnose the cause of the excessive moisture.

Sewer Backup

Sewer backup can be a stinky problem, one of the common basement smells you may encounter.

Sewer backup is a cause for concern. Often caused by improperly flushed items such as paper towels, or grease backups, or possibly cracks by impeding tree roots, your sewer lateral could be blocked or damaged. This is best addressed with a professional that provides sewer, plumbing, and excavation services.

Dead Animal

Dead rodents are a distinctive and nasty basement smell.

This smell is unlike any of the others. Most often described as a “sickly sweet” smell, the elusive dead rodent that could possibly be in your basement has a distinct odor that should not be confused with any of the above odors. A combination of methane, hydrogen sulphide, ammonia and pyruvic acid is what your nose is detecting. Finding and removing the offending carcass will help, and if you have windows, open them. Contact a pest removal service for further assistance. In this case, however your foundation should be fine. Some rodents can be attracted to moisture however, so if you have concerns, an inspection can never hurt.

When in Doubt About Basement Smells, Make the Inspection Call

In the case of pesky, offensive odors, when in doubt, make the call for an inspection. Many odors in your basement or crawlspace can be related to your foundation or the need for waterproofing. At My Foundation Repairs, we can connect you with a highly qualified and licensed contractor in your area that can help you determine if your home needs repairs or waterproofing services. Contact us today to get connected with a contractor near you!

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