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Question DetailsAsked on 4/10/2015

bad odor in closet with drainage pipes in wall

bad odor in closet on first floor. drainage pipes in wall from bathroom above it is not a sewage odor
possibly a mildew smell

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1 Answer


Well, you have your choices of likely causes:

1) leaking sewer or water pipes in the walls - which (especially if water pipe leakage) could cause mildew/mold.

2) if water pipe enters house at that point and passes up through wall before it is first exposed to the household heat and air, it is very common for the pipes to sweat - condense water from the air on the pipe,which then wets wood or insulation or drywall and causes mildew/mold

3) general poor closet ventilation causing mildew in the items storage in the closet

4) general poor ventilation in the closet allowing moisture coming up through the slab (assuming on slab floor) to assumulate in the closet and mildew either the items in the closet, or to start mildewing the bottom of the drywall or the bottom wood in the wall (the "plate").

5) dead animal in wall, but unlikely to be mistaken for mildew smell

Start by pulling everything out of the closet, checking each item for mildew or mold smell. Then check the entire interior of the closet for issues - including checking in the attic if there is an attic hatch in the closet. Could be mildew/mold smell from attic leak(s) causing the smell to migrate into the closetif the hatch is not tightly sealed like it should be.

If no mildew/moldy smelling items or mold on walls, then you might have to open up an inspection hole in the drywall to check in the wall for wetness. Can inspect using a STRONG flashlight and small hand mirror on a stick, an inspection fiberoptic scope, or fiberoptic camera, assuming this is not an insulated wall. Or use a cellphone to take pictures. You need to open up each stud bay to see into it and check for wetness. Put your nose to the opening and the smell should be far stronger if you have wetnessinthe walls.

One other alternative source which is common if on a floor in contact with or very close to the ground, is ground moisture coming up through the floor (vaery common with concrete) and mildewing overlying flooring/padding.

For professional help, Mold Testing and Remediation is your Search the List category - but bear in mind they are going to be tending to want to sell you their remediation services, so you should be there to SEE what they claim is mold before jumping into a major remediation effort. Alternative is to start with DIY or a Handyman to open it up a bit for inspection, then decide if you need a plumber to fix a leak, and if you need a full-blown remediation company or maybe just a handyman to tear off the drywall on one wall, remove wet insulation, apply mold killer locally, let it dry out, and then reinsulate/drywall/paint, as applicable.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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