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Unfinished Basement Smell

I, like many others living in old homes, have a basement smell issue. The house is old. How old? Don't know for sure (rent to own situation), but it's been here for at least 40 years.

The basement is very small. Concrete floor, cinderblock walls, halfway up. Not sure if it's the original set up or done after. For size, maybe 125 sqf? The ceilings are 6 foot. Anyways, the oil furnace is in the basement, as well as the 250 gallon oil tank. We don't have central air. There are also concrete stairs from the garage on one end (in addition to the wood stairs leading into the house) and then one small window opposite. That's all we have for ventilation, but leaving the door open to the garage isn't an option (cat) and the very small window (at ground level) doesn't open.

We have absolutely no water issues. I can run the dehumidifer all night and not have a drop of water in the machine. It's just the stale smell. The oil furnace doesn't smell much at all. If anything, I just smell musty (but not mildewy, if that makes sense) basement. It's not sewer or oil smells. We run on septic and I only smell oil when its delivered. The smell gets into the rest of the house and drives me insane, especially in the summer. It just seeps up.

I recently bleached the heck out of the basement. Sprayed and scrubbed the walls, ceiling, floors, everything. I left a huge fan running between the open door to the garage steps and dried it out. It smelled better immediately, but within a day, was musty again.

What sort of small Air Exchanger Ventilator system can I get? Money is an issue here. Is that even an option? This is my first old home with a basement.

Re: Unfinished Basement Smell

You need better ventilation in there. What about the window? why can't you open it? What about the door to the garage? whose house is this - yours or the cat's? You mentioned a fan, keep it running.

At the same time try painting the walls, to lock in the smell.

Re: Unfinished Basement Smell

What should I paint the walls with? The cinder blocks are already painted white and the floor is coated too.

My husband is working on the window now. Looking into some sort of fan. My issues is critters getting thru it. We have a massive ground squirrel issue right outside that window. I probably killed close to 50 last summer. I'm a bit concerned about them getting thru since it's directly at ground level.

I thought about maybe cutting a hole in the basement door that leads into the garage for extra ventilation.

Re: Unfinished Basement Smell

If the window opens, attach a screen to it to stop insects and critters from getting in, for the when the window is kept open.

Re: Unfinished Basement Smell

Any vent holes you cut and screen, cover the screen with 1/4" hardware cloth. Squirrels will push through a common screen.

There are odor blocking paints available at you local building supply or hardware store. You may need to paint both the walls and the floor, then go over the floor with a good epoxy or urethane paint.

Something else that might help short term is to get a couple of bags of charcoal, not the briquets but the chunk type without the "easy to light" feature.

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