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Old 07-06-2009, 01:04 PM
 
Location: Falls Church, VA
722 posts, read 1,752,008 times
Reputation: 316

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Any tips on getting rid of the musty smell in an older house?

We're renting a postwar rambler, and it just stinks to high heaven. Honestly, the place should probably be razed, it's clear that nobody's taken good care of it in decades. But barring that, what can I do to hep with the smell?


(As an aside. Those of you who post here wondering why in the world people move out to the exurbs despite the environmental consequences and increased commuting time? This is why! It's not because everyone is selfish and clueless! Look, the rent we pay on this stupid, smelly, falling-apart house inside the Beltway could easily pay the mortgage on an almost-new place out in, say, Ashburn. And that may be the route we go when this lease is up. It's not just a matter of being satisfied with something small and not-brand-new. We moved close-in absolutely expecting to make that sacrifice, and happy to do it. We're okay with small spaces. We don't want a mansion. We put a priority on short commute times, being able to walk places, getting by with one car, all that good wholesome stuff. But as long as our income can only afford crappy living quarters close-in, going further out is always gong to be tempting. My baby's clothes and car seat stink of "musty" now. And he was born with lung problems so I'm honestly scared about what he's breathing in here. I found evidence of mice yesterday. I find earwigs all the time. You know, I'd like to live somewhere with my kids where I don't have to worry about this stuff. And since our income isn't going to change any time soon and the prices of close-in rentals aren't going down (forget ever buying close-in, in our price range), moving further out might be the only way. So you know, there are REASONS people act the way they do. Don't just assume ignorance and selfishness.)
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:01 PM
 
427 posts, read 973,357 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by athousandlogins View Post
(As an aside. Those of you who post here wondering why in the world people move out to the exurbs despite the environmental consequences and increased commuting time? This is why! It's not because everyone is selfish and clueless! Look, the rent we pay on this stupid, smelly, falling-apart house inside the Beltway could easily pay the mortgage on an almost-new place out in, say, Ashburn. And that may be the route we go when this lease is up. It's not just a matter of being satisfied with something small and not-brand-new. We moved close-in absolutely expecting to make that sacrifice, and happy to do it. We're okay with small spaces. We don't want a mansion. We put a priority on short commute times, being able to walk places, getting by with one car, all that good wholesome stuff. But as long as our income can only afford crappy living quarters close-in, going further out is always gong to be tempting. My baby's clothes and car seat stink of "musty" now. And he was born with lung problems so I'm honestly scared about what he's breathing in here. I found evidence of mice yesterday. I find earwigs all the time. You know, I'd like to live somewhere with my kids where I don't have to worry about this stuff. And since our income isn't going to change any time soon and the prices of close-in rentals aren't going down (forget ever buying close-in, in our price range), moving further out might be the only way. So you know, there are REASONS people act the way they do. Don't just assume ignorance and selfishness.)
Okay, first of all, a big +1 to that! You've described some of the very things that helped us make our decision to move from a rental in Alexandria, approximate 15 minutes from my husband's job, to a home of our own out in Bristow. The commute's a lot longer (okay, a heck of a lot longer), but he can VRE in. But mainly, we were tired of sharing our home with mice, centipedes, faulty wiring, and plumbing with a mind of its own. The more we learned about our rental, the less safe we felt living there.

Anyway, back to your question: I've heard others say that ozone machines helped with odors in their homes. I don't know much about them, save that they're something you rent, and you can't be in the same room as one that's operating. But you may want to check into that.

Good luck! Hope you get rid of the stinkies real soon. And hey, if you decide to head w-a-y out here to Bristow, there's a house down the block that's for sale.
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Falls Church, VA
722 posts, read 1,752,008 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themommy View Post
And hey, if you decide to head w-a-y out here to Bristow, there's a house down the block that's for sale.
Bristow is looking REALLY good right now, let me tell you! And I was once someone who said I'd never live that far out.

We're in this lease for a couple of years, though. Because we're freaking idiots I feel like such a fool!

Last edited by athousandlogins; 07-06-2009 at 02:18 PM.. Reason: grammar
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:29 PM
 
Location: Virginia
8,106 posts, read 12,646,226 times
Reputation: 3760
Quote:
Originally Posted by athousandlogins View Post
My baby's clothes and car seat stink of "musty" now. And he was born with lung problems so I'm honestly scared about what he's breathing in here. I found evidence of mice yesterday. I find earwigs all the time. You know, I'd like to live somewhere with my kids where I don't have to worry about this stuff. And since our income isn't going to change any time soon and the prices of close-in rentals aren't going down (forget ever buying close-in, in our price range), moving further out might be the only way. So you know, there are REASONS people act the way they do. Don't just assume ignorance and selfishness.)
Can you have the owner take care of these things? If they don't, can you use them as a basis to break your lease?
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:48 PM
 
3,164 posts, read 6,118,809 times
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I live in a neighborhood of rather large homes on lots of 3 to 15 acres, out in the boonies. The homes were built in 2004 and 2005. ALL of my neighbors have had problems with mice and bugs. We've been lucky and had no mice (lots of hawks looking for them) but have had ants and some stink bugs. So don't think that you will escape critters by moving to the exburbs. Insects and rodents are everywhere.
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:56 PM
 
Location: Falls Church, VA
722 posts, read 1,752,008 times
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Hahahahaha...I'm going to invest in some hawks

It's true, critters are everywhere. Especially ants, they're insane this year! I am cranky about this, but mostly upset about the musty smell.
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:01 PM
 
2,688 posts, read 5,951,120 times
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Our house is eight years old and we don't have any problems -- not even more than an occasional few ants. I totally sympathize with you. Can you identify with what the problem is? Is there mold or mildew? If so that might be grounds for breaking your lease as tgbwc suggested.
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:27 PM
 
Location: Falls Church, VA
722 posts, read 1,752,008 times
Reputation: 316
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yankeesfan View Post
Can you identify with what the problem is? Is there mold or mildew? If so that might be grounds for breaking your lease as tgbwc suggested.
Thanks.

I haven't seen any visible mold, but that doesn't mean it isn't lurking behind the walls. And when I look closely I think I can see some old water damage spots on the ceilings that were painted over. Never a good sign.

My understanding is that mold is one of those gray areas - not a clear-cut case for a tenant to be able to break the lease, even if I can prove it. But I'll definitely start making a pest of myself...
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Old 07-06-2009, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Sterling, VA
1,059 posts, read 2,623,292 times
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Please get your home inspected for mold. It does not have to be seen to be present and it can cause many health problems. I am concerned for your baby. Homepro in Falls Church is a reputable company and I'm sure others on this forum will have suggestions for you.
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Old 07-06-2009, 04:14 PM
 
427 posts, read 973,357 times
Reputation: 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denton56 View Post
I live in a neighborhood of rather large homes on lots of 3 to 15 acres, out in the boonies. The homes were built in 2004 and 2005. ALL of my neighbors have had problems with mice and bugs. We've been lucky and had no mice (lots of hawks looking for them) but have had ants and some stink bugs. So don't think that you will escape critters by moving to the exburbs. Insects and rodents are everywhere.
I don't know about the OP, but when I say we had bugs in our rental house, I mean we had so many bugs in our rental house that I couldn't go into the basement (which was fully finished) without being reasonably certain that one or more centipedes would crawl over my feet. And I couldn't do a load of laundry (the laundry room was down there, too) without being reasonably certain that spiders would come rushing out of the hamper in alarm.

Our house was so bad that when we had overnight company, we gave them our bedroom and we each took a sofa. There were only two bedrooms upstairs, so one of them was our master bedroom and one was the baby's room. We couldn't in good conscience ask our guests to stay downstairs in our insect menagerie, even though one of the two bedrooms in the basement was fully furnished as a guest room and had a full bathroom. Ugh, that bathroom... Several bugs climbed up out of the tub drain every day. I hated even going in there to do routine cleaning.

In our case, the pest problem was due to structural issues with the house that we weren't at liberty to solve, since it was a rental. Not that we had any desire to, at least not on our dime. But anyway, pest control would have done absolutely nothing to help. It's a wonder that the management company was able to rent it to another family after we left. But the house looks good on the surface, much as I imagine the OP's does. (Hey, wouldn't it be funny if the OP and I were talking about the same house?)
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