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Question DetailsAsked on 7/7/2016

I have a smell in my basement.

It appears to come from the Laundry/HVAC area and is between the basement ceiling and the upstairs floor. It has been there for two years on and off, but this year I have been down there more and think it has gotten stronger. It smells organic - not chemical. And not smoky. Kind of like really bad body odor laced with old food. doesn't necessarily smell musty - possibly moldy, but I don't think so. I thought it was the floor under the Washer and I bleached that and that is not it. It comes out of an opening in the ceiling and when I open cabinets down there it smells. Of course the basement ceiling is finished with sheetrock.

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1 Answer


Here are a number of links to previous questions with answers along that line - since it appears to come from subfloor and from the smell description (you say does not smell like mold/mildew), most likely wood rot - either from leakage from outside or a leaking pipe, depending on your pipe locations of course. You can look up in the subfloor through the opening the smell is coming from and/or by opening up a hand-sized hole to look in with flashlight of course - or rent (Home Depot, tool rental places, some auto parts stores) a fiber optic inspection scope or camera (I recommend color video inspection camera - much easier to use and better image, and cheap rental because cheap ones at Harbor Freight and such only cost about $75 NEW. Takes about 1/2" hole in ceiling to feed the fiber optic cable into - has built-in LED lighting, really easy to use, though of course only useful in uninsulated areas (which floors usually are escept right along outer edge). Look for wetness, staining, mildew, mold, fungal growth, visible wood decay.

Since you smell it when you open cabients, sounds like a water problem getting into/behind them too - so could be leak, or could be water coming through basement wall - like outdoor drainage is inadequate or roof runoff is ponding right next to the house maybe.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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