Smell in Basement

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Mike in Pa, Jan 21, 2005.

  1. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    What can I do to eliminate odor in the basement?

    Ready for this? I have:
    1/3 concrete floor
    1/3 dirt floor
    1/3 crawl space with dirt

    The dirt floor is very dry.

    The crawl space is possibly damp but not excessively. It also has a water well (I'm guessing) at one end. The addition floor almost sits on it. It's about 8' diameter with brick around it like a hand dug well. Very hard to get to as the crawl space is very tight.

    The smell is usually in the winter and only occasional .. but bad. Doesn't sound like sewer. Not necessarily musty either ... can't place it.


    Will hydrated lime help? Any odor reducing agents? Can't afford a major construction.
     
  2. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    First question is do you have a cat or animals and do any of them go down there? If so, you have a latrine in high probability.

    Controlling moisture which will be impossible with the dirt / well is one key. All dirt floors lead to this problem in well enclosed spaces. You always get that funky smell. Heating the basement can make it be far less. Anything that drys out the air, area, floors should help.

    Seen this a lot in sheds, number of basements that have old floors, many are motar over dirt. Cause is probably some micro critters being able to survive, maybe they fart. Digging out the areas and repouring a proper concrete floor is usually the only long term cure. Can try covering the dirt areas with plastic sheeting and see what that does. Spray with fungicides or even try bleach. Could try mixing lime into the top layer, inch or so. I have an old floor and get a bit of smell in the summer when it sweats. Just repoured a grout covering 1 - 3" thick and that improved the smell test even now.

    You have the same problem in ships. Funky smells the lower you go in the ship, venting and controlling moisture is the cure. Really bad in submarines even with good atmosphere controls. Your clothes pick up and hold the odors. Really hits you when taken out of the boat and you get a good sniff in normal air.
     

  3. Jessikate

    Jessikate Well-Known Member

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    :haha: Cause is probably some micro critters being able to survive, maybe they fart. :haha:

    Geezz, I bit my tounge laughing so hard!
     
  4. crashy

    crashy chickaholic goddess

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    Micro critters farting?? hummmm.......if they is farting you best get some raid or something to kill em cuz there is TONS of em down there!!! Seriously what if you put an opened box of baking soda down there? or a light to dry out the area more. Thats what my friend had to do. I told her to use kitty litter and it kinda worked but the light was better for her.
     
  5. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    odor control is as simple as getting to the source of the odor and eliminating it

    Chemicals don't do the job unless you get them exactly where they're needed. In fact, many of the deodorizing chemicals are carcinogenic or hazardous.(Since they aren't pesticides, they aren't regulated) They mask the problem, not solve it.

    Sometimes chemicals won't work at all, even if you get them on the target.

    I'm guessing the odor isn't cat urine or mildew; which is good, because either are recognizable and could be a real pain to eliminate.

    Random, blanket approaches seldom work. The question with lime or any product you apply is where and how to apply it. The bigger question is whether your shot in dark will cause other problems.

    Unfortunately, our noses don't work well at locating where odors come from. This often means crawling around a putting your nose right where you don't really relish the thought.

    If you're serious about solving this problem, you have some nose work to do. When you get close enough, you'll know you're there, and then will have a better understanding of the real problem.

    Since the problem is intermittant, it may be related to certain conditions. Keep notes. Atmospheric events could be an important clue.

    Good luck
     
  6. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    It can also be as simple as having a minimum amount of air interchange. In my basement if the door is closed for long periods of time, probably will get noticeable odors or scents.

    I leave the basement door open and that seems to give enough air interchange. In the summer it also works into my air conditioning scheme. I button up the house, open the attic window to a screened opening and allow natural circulation to pull the cooler basement air thru the house. Plus that is the season I am more likely to get odors, the more air interchange the better.
     
  7. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    micro critter farts ... got it ... I'm making notes.

    No animals in the basement.

    I've tried "following my nose" and no good.

    Thought about possible wind change (old home obviously and plenty of cracks amd voids). Gets minimal air flow though.

    I'd LOVE to rip into a portion of the crawl space and put a full basement there and add-on a large room. Simply not possible for at least several years ... that's if things go well.
     
  8. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Another thing that might be in play. If that crawl space or any of that dirt floor, etc contains organic materials of any type, including old top soils that can have a big impact. Takes forever for those organic materials to totally disappear and they can really stink if buttoned up tight. You always want all top soils stripped off separate and put to the side and not buried back in backfill or any of the soils that will be part of the foundation area. Pretty common problem, find it in a lot of crawl spaces, under decks, in sheds with dirt floors, etc. Always smells funky, you swear something has been peeing under there. Want all the soils, including back fills to be a clean sandy gravel type soil if possible.
     
  9. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I have almost the exact same scenario, including an abandoned well in the crawlspace. Mine smells in the summer, but a de-humidifier makes it much better.

    Jena
     
  10. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    The underlying problem is that you are expecting a place with dirt in it not to have an odor...even expecting ANY place not to have an odor is an error.

    Walk in Sears. It has a distinct odor, no matter which town you are in.

    Hospitals have an odor.

    Walk in a forest...odor.

    Old barn....odor.

    Your house has an odor that you are probably not even aware of since you live there and are immune to it. My friends say they like the odor of my house, but I can't smell it!

    If it's not rank or offensive or stomach turning....maybe it's just how your basement smells and it's not really an issue.

    :)
     
  11. ponyexpress

    ponyexpress Well-Known Member

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    What type of walls do you have? Our basement had concrete flooring and cinder block walls. Every spring, without fail, my mom would drag me down there to help her scour floor to ceiling with a bleach solution.
    The first year that we didn't do it (all time was spent caring for sick grandma) it literally STUNK!
    So maybe just a good solid cleaning and dumping some hydrated lime on the dirt floor and crawl space will help?
    If you've got kids who use this as a play area, don't let them crawl in the lime. It can burn you.
    Anne
     
  12. rider

    rider Well-Known Member

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    Have you tried Bar-b-que charcoal? get a cheap bag and spread it out in a single layer in some kind of container you wont be useing for a while and depending on the size of your basement 1 pan works well for 20x20 area, you should notce a difference in a couple of days, replace your coals when you notcie ordor comes back it make take a while to absorb it all, and you may even have to always keep the charcoal out but it really does work, and beset of all its cheap and easy!!
     
  13. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If it's particularly bad, any chance something fell down the well and is making a stink now?

    Just a thought.

    Leva
     
  14. KindredCanuck

    KindredCanuck In Remembrance

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    Mike..

    The best odor killer that is 100% safe natural and non toxic.. can elimate ANY odor... is ZEOLITE

    go to http://www.zeolitedepot.com get a bag.. promise nothing works better reguardless of what it is.. cat urine.. dead fish... skunk... whatever..

    KC~
     
  15. Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    Not saying this is your problem, but one of the most common causes of winter-only basement odor is the "J" trap in the basement floor drain drying out. This can also occur anytime of the year in homes without air conditioning.

    What happens is most A/C contractors and installers will run the A/C condensation drain over to the basement floor drain. During the A/C season, condensation from the A/C keeps the floor drain's trap filled with the periodic flow of fresh water necessary to create the hydraulic seal.This prevents sewer odor from creeping through the floor drain and into the basement.

    During the heating season, the A/C doesn't provide this dripping action. This lack of incoming water, plus the fact that the furnace keeps the basement air drier, in-turn causes the water in the floor drain trap to evaporate. When the water level in the trap drops low enough, it opens the water seal and sewer smell begins to enter the basement. Whenever this happens, or about once a month during the heating season, pour about a half-gallon of water into the basement floor drain.

    If you don't have your A/C draining into the basement floor drain, or any other appliance for that matter (like water softeners, reverse osmosis systems, etc.), you may need to pour water down the drain throughout the year.

    Better yet, if your water heater drain valve is near your basement floor drain, a good rule of thumb is to run off a few gallons of water from the bottom of the water heater once a month. This is recommended to purge the mineral scale buildup that accumulates in the bottom of the water heater. This will also keep your basement floor drain trap sealed.
     
  16. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    i would investigate the hole more .if it is a well get profesional(state) help on how to plug it . are you on septic or sewer? that hole may be part of a cesspool that was in corped into new construction .how long have you lived there and noticedthe smell