How can I get rid of the musty smell in my basement?


How can I get rid of the musty smell in my basement?

I am try to find some way to get rid of the nasty musty smell in my basement. Our house is 127 yrs old. We did renovation 27 yrs ago where we did added an addition so one 1/2 of the basement is new and the other is still the stone foundation with a cement floor. This summer was hot & humid, it did stay cool down there. We do have a dehumidifier, but my husband kept turning it off . He was afraid it would burn out like others have and would forget to turn it back on.

I am hoping that it is just musty and not moldy. I haven't seen any mold.

  19 answers
  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Oct 22, 2020

    HI Penny a good place to start would be with an oil based stain and smell blocking primer/paint. I would do the whole place and absolutely keep that dehumidifier running.

    • Penny_Donoghue Penny_Donoghue on Oct 22, 2020

      We have used a sealer on the the older section drylock. Since it is over 100 ys old, we have had it repointed & gone over it a few times. The newer section is Also well sealed up as well.

      We also had French drains put in with the additional so we are well protected on the outside as well there.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Oct 22, 2020

    You can place bowls of white vinegar, cat litter in open containers, or baking soda throughout your basement in order to absorb the stench. You should notice a more pleasant smelling basement in a couple of days. Here are 10 tips for dealing with water damage, mold and mildew.

  • We have a very old house, too...almost 100 years old. The only way we've found to really control the musty smell in our dry finished basement and the unfinished parts, as well, is the dehumidifier. In fact, we have two. They have gauges on them, so they go on and off automatically throughout the day and we have them piped to drain externally on their own. Works like a charm...

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Oct 22, 2020

    Hello Penny,

    Any chance you could have a vent fitted from the basement up to the fresh air. That would help ventilate and would help. Otherwise you may have to have it Tanked! The walls and the floor may not have a damp proofed membrane and just be one course of brick or stone . Best wishes.

  • Ken Erickson Ken Erickson on Oct 22, 2020

    Run dehumidifier and hook a hose to drain water to a floor drain. I did that so I didn't have to keep emptying the water bucket. You could put the dehumidifier on a heavy duty timer so it doesn't have to run 24/7.

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Oct 22, 2020

    I'd look for a source of the damp and dry it up

  • Janice Janice on Oct 22, 2020

    When there's not much air flow in any area of a home it can begin to smell stale. If you have windows in the area, open them wide and leave open as long as possible. Also, you can buy a sack of bbq briquettes (not the ones enhanced with lighter fluid) and place them in open bowls or containers around various areas of the baement. They do a great job of absorbing any type of odors.

  • Betsy Betsy on Oct 22, 2020

    Hi Penny: Try these sites:

    I get these moisture eliminator tubs from the Dollar Tree. They are small and you can stick them anywhere. They work really well. You need to have ventilation in your basement, and maybe seal the walls to keep the basement dry.

    Good luck

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Oct 23, 2020

    For any dehumidifier, spend a few more dollars and get one that automatically empties into a drain hole. This will eliminate having to empty the reservoir. This function can be easily set up with a piece of common garden hose length. (see photo below)

    If you have a dehumidifier running in the basement and worry that you will forget to turn it off, purchase a new one with a built in timer, or then simply put it on an external timer, as others above have noted.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Oct 23, 2020

    Hello. I dehumidifier is an important part of keeping a basement humidity level controlled. We used one that emptied right into the sump pit. Do you have a sump pump there that would make it an automatic empty?

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Oct 23, 2020

    Definitely run the humidifier non-stop. Based on the setting it should pause running at times. Then wipe everything down with white vinegar to kill any mold that may have began to build. Odo-Ban is the best thing I can recommend to clean, disinfect, and promote a nice smell.

  • Em Em on Oct 23, 2020

    I run my dehumidifier constantly in my current house in the basement and one on the first floor. My last home had a dehumidifier on the furnace which is a GREAT bonus of not emptying the tanks DAILY. The humidity is what causes the musty smell. The one on the furnace/AC unit empties itself with a tiny pump that empties into a drain or laundry tub.

  • Mike T Mike T on Oct 24, 2020

    You obviously have a damp problem and using all kinds of disinfectant and equipment will only mask the problem. You need a specialist to come and look at the problem and get rid of it completely because you have constant moisture in either the walls or even the ceiling or the worst scenario id dampness in all of them. Because you house is over 100 years old it could be a very expensive job to put right and if the cost is out of your reach go to plan B and use the advise people have already been good enough to offer their suggestions. Good luck

  • Angela Ponder Angela Ponder on Oct 24, 2020

    We run a dehumidifier also. We find that when we turn our water hose on it got worse. Se we made a plastic container outside where the water turn on is. The plastic container makes the water run away from the house. But yes.. a dehumidifier is what you need. You can buy one that connects with a hose so the water will go down the drain.

  • Maura White Maura White on Oct 25, 2020

    You need to get a good dehumidifier and leave it on all the time. We even have an auto drainage system attached to it so we don't empty it by hand. That's the only way to consistently get the moisture out.

  • Deb K Deb K on Oct 25, 2020

    Hello, definitely a dehumidifier, worth the spend, it will grab the majority of the smell with the humidity. Then you can use an air purifier to get rid of the remaining odor