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Question DetailsAsked on 5/29/2011

Anybody have a smelly crawlspace?

I live in Northern California, in a 60 year old house. Every winter when it rains, my house stinks. To me, it smells moldy and it's definitely coming from the floor. My thoughts are the crawlspace gets damp and sends its rotten fumes through my hardwoord floors up to our noses. I don't believe there is standing water down there - just damp from the rain. In the summer, when it's hot and dry, the smell is gone. California, land of the paranoid, has an expensive mold remediation process you must go through anytime a contractor discovers mold (like it's not in every house) , so my goal here is to explore what it might be and see what has worked for others before I start looking for a contractor. I want to see if there is any way to solve the problem without having to spend 15k. Thanks to anybody who has a similar experience to share.

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    2 Answers


    Stinky crawlspaces aren't just native to Northern California! Make certain you don't have standing water in the crawlspace ... if you do you'll have to get the downspout water away from the house before you can begin to solve this problem. If you don't have standing water and it's just damp down there, then the key to solving the problem is to reduce the moisture coming up from the ground by using a combination of a vapor barrier and cross-ventilation. A decent vapor barrior, which is thin plastic sheeting covering the entire crawlspace floor, will reduce moisture by a factor of 10! When it's warm you will need some open vents parallel to the prevailing winds, but of course those only work when there's actual wind. I have had some luck with vents that open and close themselves based on air temperature, but what I ended up doing to get some air flowing during the summer (and normal people without electrical engineering degrees probably wouldn't do this [;)] ) was to remove several muffin fans from old computers, bolt them to a vent and wire them up to continuously pull in air in the summer. I shut them off when it's cold. That seems to have done the trick.

    Answered 9 years ago by MichaelL


    [quote user="justapixel"]Every winter when it rains...


    There's just something about that phrase that makes my midwest want to snarl. Oh, we get rain but it usually looks like snow or glistens like, ummm, ice. [:P]

    Like MichaelL said: first make sure you are moving water away from the house then find yourself a barrier to put between the damp ground and the house above.

    It is also possible to put drainage pipe around the perimiter of the crawlspace with proper sloping to carry the water to a sump pump to be pumped away from the house. More involved and more expense so try the other things first.

    Answered 9 years ago by Old Grouch

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