Home Ventilation system Around the house: A musty smell in the basement can signal the need for more ventilation | Way of life

Around the house: A musty smell in the basement can signal the need for more ventilation | Way of life


Dear Ken: My stairs are noisy. How can I keep the steps from jumping and squeaking? I have to tell you it’s finished underneath with drywall. – Cliff

Reply: You can try driving a few 16-penny nails or ending up straight through the carpet. I know it sounds pretty aggressive, but it can’t hurt, and you can get lucky and tighten up the good boards that rub against each other. You can also find breakout screw sets at the hardware store that may work. You twist them into place and the head ends up coming off even with the surface.

The best way, of course, is to hire a carpet installer who can lay out the wooden steps for you. It can sit there while you tackle the squeaks with flathead screws and maybe resin-based (brown) carpenter’s glue.

Dear Ken: There is a musty smell in the basement of my 1960s house. There is also moisture under the carpet there. Ideas? – Carrie

Reply: Depending on the age of your home, I bet you have those tiny basement windows that were popular back then. This means that you probably need more ventilation to get rid of the excess moisture. Even though the walls and floors appear dry, there is still some moisture leaking from the damp ground behind the concrete and making its way into the basement as steam. It increases the relative humidity there and produces that musty smell that you are complaining about.

Why not try to circulate some air in the basement? Find a location near one of the exterior walls (the hallway is best) and attach an inexpensive bathroom fan to the ceiling. Run its duct outdoors, connect it to a timer, and let it run for two or three hours each morning. This will pull drier, softer air from the floor through the space and push the more humid air outside.

If you have standing water under the carpet, take a look at the drainage items above that area, such as a downspout too close, a leaking hose end, or a low area that won’t drain. good.

Finally, if you do have those tall little windows and there are people sleeping in the basement, you need to take extra precautions to keep them safe.

Of course, it is best to hire a company to install a proper “exit” window and fine. But if that’s not possible, you can mitigate the risk a bit by building permanent ladders under the small windows.

In addition, install a fire extinguisher in each room and add additional smoke detectors.

Dear Ken: I have an old well in the garden which has been covered. Do you think it’s worth resuscitating? – Rollie

Reply: It may not be up to you. These old wells were all the rage years ago to bypass lawn watering restrictions. They simply drilled until they hit the first layer of groundwater, knocked down a small submersible pump, and used its pressure to soak the lawn and shrubs (you might remember the “water” signs. wells ”in front yards in older urban areas).

Things have changed, however, over the past 40 years or so. Most of these wells were not licensed by state authorities, and of course, this is no longer permitted. In addition to depleting the water in a given aquifer which probably belongs to someone else who holds the rights, these shallow wells can contain chemical contaminants that can be harmful to humans and animals when they are are sprayed through the sprinkler heads.

The authorization of wells – new and old – is the responsibility of the State’s natural resources managers. Check out their website for more information and advice.

Dear Ken: Bathroom drains seem to gurgle for a while after I’ve used them. Is this something I have to live with? – Liz

Reply: Probably not. This phenomenon is more common in older homes, as we were using smaller diameter pipes back then and may not have installed as many ventilation pipes on the roof as today. The answer is usually to bring in a professional to clean the drains with a cable and rotary blade machine.

However, many times in a situation like yours, the culprit is not in the basement pipes as you might expect, but upstairs in one of those roof vent pipes. Trash can get stuck in it, starving the outside air system, and it can produce the sound you describe.

So make sure they go up on the roof to inspect the upper regions of your system.

Dear Ken: I moved into a house to repair and return which has been totally rehabilitated including new carpet. But there is still a smell of “dog” inside. Do you think it’s on wall surfaces? – Mitch

Reply: I do not think so. Animal odors are not electrostatic, like smoke particles, so they tend to originate from where they first landed. I bet the owner forgot to seal the urine stains on the wood floors before replacing the flooring.

I know it sounds disgusting, but the best way to check is to kneel down and use your nose to check that the smell is seeping through the carpet and cushion. If so, you will need to unhook it from its tie wrap, roll it up, and then treat the stains. Use a mild soap and water solution containing a deodorant like Woolite’s Oxy Clean Pet Odor Remover to scrub the stains. Let them dry, then apply a few coats of our good old friend, KILZ. This sequence should neutralize and seal the stains so that they do not leak through the carpet.

Do this right away before odors permanently contaminate the tampon.

Ken Moon is a home inspector in the Pikes Peak area. His radio telephone show airs at 4 p.m. Saturdays on KRDO, FM 105.5 and AM 1240. Visit aroundthehouse.com