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A Smelly Basement is Not Okay

A Smelly Basement is Not Okay

A Smelly Basement Is Not Okay – Here’s Why

It’s normal to have a smelly basement, right? After all, that’s what you’d expect from the part of the house where your stuff is stored and nobody ever goes.

Actually, a smelly basement is a sure sign that your house isn’t healthy. In fact, it could be a warning that you and your family are in serious danger. If your basement stinks or causes out-of-control sneezing when you take your first step down those stairs, it needs to be dealt with immediately.

The Reason Your Basement Smells

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Smelly basements have lots of causes. It could be that a mouse or other small animal died down there. Maybe you’re storing old clothes that have been locked in a closet for centuries. It could have a simple cause like this, but if it’s musty or smells like mildew, you’ve got serious problems.

What can turn a stinky basement from mildly annoying to a serious health threat is the presence of mold. Mold, unfortunately, is another problem that’s not taken seriously by most people. It’s a given for many people that a basement should have mold. What they don’t know is that mold can be deadly.

The Dangers of Mold

Mold infestations occur where there is standing water, a leak, or wet material that hasn’t been properly dried out. When the mold dries, it release spores into the air. These spores can travel from your basement throughout the house. It doesn’t matter if you keep the door closed because they can travel through the air ducts.

Breathing in mold spores is dangerous. A mild mold infestation causes sneezing, irritation, runny noses, and other cold-like symptoms. A more serious infestation can cause nausea, headaches, fatigue and what’s known as ‘sick building syndrome’ where everybody inside a certain building feels terrible for no known reason.

Mold is especially dangerous when it’s breathed in over a period of time. It’s also particularly bad for kids and the elderly. Exposure to mold at a young age is a leading cause of lifetime asthma problems. It may also cause brain damage, liver problems and damage to the respiratory system.

Finding the Enemy

Mold usually isn’t visible to the naked eye. It flourishes in dark, hidden places and that’s why it’s not easy to see. Most people don’t spot a mold infestation – they smell it. If your nose is telling you that something is funny down there, the first step is to look for the source.

Because it’s caused by water in the basement, look for:

Areas of standing water

The water should be removed immediately and the area should be dried with a fan or dehumidifier

Wet material

Wet material should be removed. If the material is drywall or other building material, use proper protection because direct contact with mold can cause irritation.

Leaky pipes

The pipes need to be fixed or replaced.

Areas along walls where water is running into the basement

In this case, you need to look for the source of the water. It could be a leaking fixture upstairs, leaky pipe in the upstairs floor, or a gutter that’s not draining properly. Water can run into the basement also if the ground outside tapers toward the house.

Floor areas where water isn’t draining out properly

You’ll need to install a better drainage system like a French drain.

Once the water is cleaned up and the problem is fixed, air out the basement well. Use box fans or dehumidifiers and open windows for ventilation.

If your have a smelly basement, don’t just lock the door and forget about it. Deal with the cause of the stinky smell immediately and call the appropriate professionals if you need to.