24/7 Support!
Banner image of an Absolute Heating Electrical & Air technician in front of a company branded van Banner image of an Absolute Heating Electrical & Air technician in front of a company branded van

back to blog

Eliminating Basement Odors in 9 Easy Ways

ABP-fixing the abandon building

The basement in your house smells for a number of reasons. If you use it as a storage room, the smell could be coming from the old items you stash there. Because it is underground, the smell could also be coming from the moisture and humidity rising from the earth around the room. Or it could be a combination of both.

Regardless of where the smell is coming from, homeowners should be aware that it should never be left untreated. That’s because if you don’t address the smell properly, the odor can spread into other parts of your house. Furthermore, the culprit causing the smell could worsen, which will give you more problems in the long run.

Causes of Basement Odors

Sure, basements often smell, and there’s no need to make a big fuss about it. But after cleaning the entire room and you get rid of the old, smelly stuff you have stored there, and the smell seems to come back, you probably have a bigger issue on your hand. Apart from moisture and humidity, the following can also cause your basement to smell:

1. Molds

That musty basement odor is usually caused by mold accumulating somewhere in the room. Remember that basements are usually dark, damp, and hot, which provides the perfect environment for fungi to thrive. If you don’t do something about it ASAP, the spores can quickly spread to other parts of your home and cause various health problems, ranging from mild allergies to severe respiratory ailments. Moreover, mold can cause structural damage by feeding on organic materials such as wood and fabric.

To confirm if molds have infested your basement, inspect the entire room – from the floor to the ceiling. Also, check all the stashed items, particularly cardboard boxes, piles of paper, and old furniture. When doing so, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends wearing personal protective equipment to limit exposure. These should include an N-95 mask, eye goggles, and a pair of gloves.

2. Sewage

If the sewage line goes through your basement, the foul smell could be coming from a leak, which is definitely something to worry about. You can easily determine if the smell comes from a leaky sewage line because, obviously, the smell will be worse than usual. If the smell is too unbearable, you should immediately call a professional plumber.

3. Dampness

As mentioned earlier, basements tend to be damp most of the time due to their location underground. Furthermore, the water supply pipelines usually run across the basement ceiling or walls. A small leak from these pipes could immediately turn into a bigger problem if not addressed as soon as possible. Check the basement wall and ceiling for any discoloration or streaks, as this is a sign that your pipes are leaking.

4. Animal Waste

Basements can attract pests such as rats and cockroaches. If you have pets, your furry friends may have also turned the basement into their toilet without you knowing. Either way, their urine and feces can obviously lead to bad basement odor.

5. Faulty Drains

If you have a basement sink, check the floor drains and p-traps. The latter normally holds a small amount of water which keeps sewer gases from getting to your home. The trapped water can dry out if the sink isn’t often used, allowing gas to rise and emitting foul odors. A dried-out floor drain can also cause sewer gases to enter your basement.

6. Iron Ochre

This is often found in wet basements. It’s jelly-like, slimy with rusty colors, and can appear on floors or walls.

9 Ways of Eliminating Basement Odors

Although it is impossible to eliminate moisture in your basement totally, there are steps you can take that will dramatically reduce the bad smell. These can include the following:

1. Fix All Leaks

It’s important to immediately fix any visible leaks in your basement as these can cause dampness or excess moisture. If the source is a leaky pipe, you should call a plumber. If it’s a cracked basement window that’s causing moisture to form, weather strips and caulk can be used to seal any leaks that you find around the window frame.

2. Heat the Area

Turn up the heat in the basement to get rid of condensation and musty odors. To achieve this, open the basement window during the day so warm sunlight can come in. An alternative is to place a small space heater in your basement and turn it on whenever you are home.

3. Install a Sump Pump

Installing a sump pump in the basement should be considered if you have a foundation located above a well. This equipment will collect water from the basement and pump it out, preventing moisture and dampness.

4. Improve the Airflow

A basement with poor air circulation can produce bad odors. To improve the airflow in the area, you should consider installing an exhaust fan. Opening the basement window in good weather is also a good idea since this will allow fresh air to enter the room and will help in eliminating basement odors.

5. Dehumidify Your Basement

A dehumidifier is the best way to remove excess moisture and foul odors from your basement. Just make sure to empty the basin regularly so your dehumidifier will continue working for you.

6. Remove Damp Items

Molds love anything damp or wet. If you have old papers, decorations, or cardboard boxes in your basement, it’s best to get rid of them. These can promote the growth of molds which will smell eventually.

7. Neutralize the Smell

Another way of eliminating odor in the basement is by pouring baking soda into a bowl and placing this in a corner. This is an old but reliable technique. Baking soda is known for absorbing musty odors and is among the best odor absorbers for a basement.

8. Clean the Basement

Cleaning can mean removing unnecessary items and furnishings from the basement. It can also involve draining any standing water and wiping dust and dirt off the basement window and door. Waterproofing your basement can be another cleaning method since you’ll keep the place neat and dry.

9. Contact a Plumber

If your basement smells terrible and you have little idea why then perhaps it’s time for a plumber to step in. If the smell is due to faulty plumbing or a break in the sewer line, your plumber can find out and come up with the best solution to eliminating basement odors.

Key Takeaway

While a basement used for storage is not frequently used, it can still be embarrassing when people find out how bad it smells. Other than that, a foul-smelling basement can indicate an underlying issue, including a plumbing problem or a mold infestation.

Either way, you should try to get rid of the unwanted smell in the basement to keep yourself healthy and your home safe. There are lots of ways to do this, and many of them are pretty simple but effective.

Contact Absolute Electrical Heating and Air if you need help in dealing with basement odor.

A musty basement smell is not uncommon, but it can be unpleasant or even dangerous. Besides, it could be a sign of an underlying problem. Absolute Electrical Heating and Air can find this out for you. Contact us, and our expert plumber in Colorado Springs will visit your basement to determine what’s happening down there.


Request Service

Absolute Heating Electrical & Air technician completing HVAC repair Absolute Heating Electrical & Air technician completing HVAC repair

Save Every Year with an Absolute Advantage Membership

Expert Annual System Safety Inspections & More
  • Priority service
  • Waived dispatch fees
  • Yearly furnace, A/C, & electrical system inspections
  • 10% discount on repairs and additional diagnostic services
  • Up to $500 off HVAC & electrical panel replacements