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Old 09-15-2014, 07:05 PM
 
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It sounds like I need a larger dehumidifier. I do have a small one running in the basement; I never noticed that it made a difference with the odor, but maybe it just isn't big enough. I will price out some larger models, and maybe be able to get one on sale this winter. Thank you all!
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Old 09-15-2014, 07:18 PM
 
Location: NoVa
18,434 posts, read 30,327,438 times
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I know exactly what you are talking about because it is happening here also. I hate it! We have the dehumidifier running down there at all times.

I wish I knew an answer.

Growing up I lived in a house with a finished basement but I do not remember a sump pump. This house has one.
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Old 09-15-2014, 08:41 PM
 
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Some other things:
Do you have potential local water table issues? (check a topographical contour map if you can access one)
Has the basement ever flooded?
How well is the drainage grade around the house foundation? Does it flow away from the house naturally
Have the floor and walls in the unfinished basement ever been painted / sealed? (if so, do any parts of wall show evidence of moisture leeching (bubbles in the paint that subsequently flakes off?)

From your description, I'm assuming it's only the old musty damp basement smell. If the drain is functioning properly (water forms cap in the trap) you shouldn't get sewage type smells. If you have water table issues this can amplify the problem but the smell is mostly a function of bacteria from moisture and the smell is worse in the summer months as it thrives. For a house 90 years old I'd suggest a few things.

1) Insure the ground grade drains away from the house foundation.
2) Check your gutters and downspouts after a hard rain to insure they are draining properly.
3) Don't plant or landscape along the house foundation with plants that you need to water.
4) Clean the walls and floors and inspect for cracks (fill / patch if needed)
5) Seal and paint
6) Paint the underside of the floor joists also and check all the vents into the basement (washer / dryer).
7) Run a dehumidifier.
8) Do not store items in the basement that absorb moisture easily (cardboard/ paper / fabric)
9) If you have basement windows that open place a screen on them and allow occasional natural air flow during times of peak smell. Some natural convection may help keep it from excessive stale mustiness and help prevent it from permeating the rest of house.

Other than that there are the cosmetic odor removal items. The kind that remove moisture can help somewhat.

If you're near a large media market, check if the At Home with Gary Sullivan radio Home Improvement show is carried. He gets calls like this and frequently gives recommendations on effective products.

Good luck!
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Old 09-15-2014, 10:02 PM
 
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Try using an ionizer.
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Old 09-16-2014, 07:55 AM
 
31,726 posts, read 49,247,268 times
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how are you running the AC/Heating in the house--
could you have mold/sediment inside the vent tubes?
Have you checked those?
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkarch View Post
Try using an ionizer.
They're a health hazard.
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Old 09-24-2014, 06:28 PM
 
3,333 posts, read 3,155,512 times
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I have an old house with the same basement odor problem.

I don't have a dehumidifier, but will look into getting one.

I, too, have washed all surfaces. I have poured bleach down all if the drains.

The floors were carpeted when I bought it. I tore it up and hauled it out, thinking that was the source. Am thinking of painting the floor to "seal" it.
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