Musty Smell in my Dads' House

shoot-straight Posted By shoot-straight, Mar 6, 2018 at 8:34 AM

  1. shoot-straight

    shoot-straight
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    Jan 5, 2012
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    My dad's home has a pretty good "musty" smell. Smells just like when you wash clothes in the washer then forget about them for a day or two. Not overpowering, but noticable. No smell upstairs. Started about a month ago.

    House is a 2 story colonial home built on 1970. New roof, older vynal siding, new windows, etc. No basement, and it sits on a slab. Water, sewer and some HVAC lines are buried in the slab. Our family has had it for 42 years, and I have never smelled this smell before. Its been wet lately, but ive seen it worse. Contractor and I walked and inspected the exterior and interior for possible leaks- no smoking guns there.

    House has hardwoods in most of downstairs. (it was a terrible choice by my dad) No significant evidence of buckling or popping, but they have never quite felt right.

    Our current thoughts are possible water line leak in the slab or slab ducts are dirty and got moist.

    I put a dehumidifier there sunday. Curious to see if that helps. Dad, who would be prone to breathing issues, hasnt had any.

    Looking for thoughts and advice.
     
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  2. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone
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    That's a tough one. Since nothing can be seen, it's a wait and see. I wonder if you have a leak around one of the new windows? Try closing off rooms and see if the smell is stronger in one.

    The only other thing I can think of is to use a FLIR to look for changes in temp. Water leaking out of a hidden pipe should be much colder than the surrounding structure.
     
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  3. shoot-straight

    shoot-straight
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    the IR camera is a great idea.
     
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  4. Ashful

    Ashful
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    Old People smell?

    Maybe we can badge it OPS, and create a drug commercial.
     
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  5. gzecc

    gzecc
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    Probably under the windows. Usually windows installed incorrectly and allow water to seep on to the sheathing or inside behind the sheet rock.
    Especially problems with vinyl siding.
     
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  6. peakbagger

    peakbagger
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    I think there are consultants out there that can trace mold sources. Not sure how they do it, maybe the just train a beagle?
     
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  7. shoot-straight

    shoot-straight
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    windows have been in for a while. smell is strongest in the kitchen- and the one window there is on the other side of it. I really dont think its them, but will take another look at them. thanks for your thoughts.
     
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  8. coutufr

    coutufr
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    Possibly a sewer problem. I would start by calling a plumber. Sometime just by the smell they will be able to tell you what is going on
     
  9. fbelec

    fbelec
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    i've seen slabs with copper tubing thru it for heating leak and no one knows for a few years later. shut the heating system off and shut off the water feed to the boiler for a few hours then check the pressure gauge on the boiler to see if it drops. remember as the water cools the pressure will drop a little like hot 180 degrees 18 lbs and cool to 120 might be 15 lbs. if you see 5 lbs i'd say if your expansion tank is good then you got a leak.
     
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  10. shoot-straight

    shoot-straight
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    No boiler, forced hot air furnace.

    Im gonna call the county to check water usage rate.
     
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  11. vinny11950

    vinny11950
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    All good ideas.

    Also, if you have bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans, check that the ducts to the outside are not ripped or disconnected. Check your attic space, they should be there.

    My parents home has all sorts of smells sometimes, with the cat peeing around the house, the occasional water spill in the basement and my mom not liking to open the windows just makes it worse. When I go there I open the windows for a few hours and let things air out. It makes a big difference. But recently the washing machine was spilling water in the basement and it created that moldy smell until I fixed the spilling. Now I only have the cat pee smell to deal with.

    But it is tough to hunt down smell sources because your nose gets used to them and then you don't smell them. You just have to keep trying different things to test your theories, let it play out and see if the smell goes away. Don't discount animals of some sorts doing something to make that smell.
     
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  12. zrock

    zrock
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    Agree every time i have had issues with my sewer i have always gotten a musty smell coming up from the kitchen sink.
     
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  13. johneh

    johneh
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    Is there a floor drain in the slab ?
    If there is pour a gallon of water down it the
    trap may be dry allowing the smell out
     
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  14. blades

    blades
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    Or any other seldom used drain. piping in wall to a sink /bath/shower - had a sink causing a problem for i do not know how long just seeping in the behind a vanity, copper plumbing conneced to some steel nipples - after 40 years was corroded through. Dry wall acting like big sponge. A classic is the shower walls if tiled, after that much time they almost always are shot as in the olden days they just used regular dry wall behind the tiles even if not tiled tub wall junctions or the drain of the tub leaking around outside of drain. If an actic area might want to poke around up there as well insulation could be wet. Is there a masonary chimney for the heating system - the joints between the bricks can go bad and those big grey bricks that form the support for the flue tiles can act like big sponges as well.
     
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  15. heat seeker

    heat seeker
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    We had a floor drain in a lavatory at work like that. The room was always under slight negative pressure due to an exhaust fan that ran continuously. After a while, the stench was unbearable. I poured some water into the drain, and the problem was solved. We needed to do this about once a month.
     
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  16. shoot-straight

    shoot-straight
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    All great info guys thanks.

    No floor drains that I know of. All other drains have been used recently- so I dont think it's they dried out. No masonry connected to heating system.

    I plan to get the plumbing and ducts in the slab scoped.
     
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  17. blades

    blades
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    I would be looking at the tub/shower area very closely - after 30+ years I will bet that dry wall is close to mush. The old rule was or maybe still is that you had to have a steel nipple coming through the drywall. Problem with that is galvanic action ( corrosion) depending on the ph of your water when steel connected to copper. ( another, not to bright, bureaucrat, me thinks, came up with that one ) this also the reason new hot water installs require the insolater between the house plumbing and the heaters plumbing. Now we have all kinds of plastic plumbing , some of the older stuff is developing problems as well. I was at a place recently that various rodents took a liking to the plastic plumbing.
     
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  18. jeanw

    jeanw
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    how do you do a scope of a slab ? etc thanks y'all
     
  19. fbelec

    fbelec
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    with a flir gun. it's not a real gun. search FLIR gun they used to sell for $5,000.00
     
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  20. Ashful

    Ashful
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    You can rent FLIR cameras at Home Depot, I’ve been told. I have my own at work, so never checked it out.

    The cameras run $10k+.
     
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  21. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    I thought I read he was going to scope the underslab ducts. You just shove a camera in there like a sewer camera. Those things act as trap for water and then dust, dark and warm gives you mold.
     
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  22. fbelec

    fbelec
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  23. fbelec

    fbelec
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    and they do make a app for phones that is around 4 or 5 hundred
     
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  24. georgepds

    georgepds
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    To check for mold, try pulling the wall trim near the floor. Sometimes you can see it growing there. At worst, just tack the trim back in place

    If it is mold, it's a water / /humidity problem. Get rid of wall leaks if you can find them, and run a dehumidifier
     
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