Musty Basement

Hello everyone,

I wanted to send out a quick note about a musty basement I was in.   I performed a home inspection the other day in a home that was nicely updated.  Even the basement had been finished off.  However, this was the problem.  As I walked downstairs I was hit in the face with a poignant musty smell in the finished area.   Then I start to question, did they finish the basement to hide something?  Did they take proper precautions to reduce moisture and seepage concerns?

As I was walking around looking at things, my throat was becoming irritated (and now the next day it almost feels like I have a cold -sore throat, mucus).  Clients need to be aware and use there senses in situations like this, not only visually but in this case smell.  A good rule of thumb is if you smell a mustiness, there is a moisture issue.  With high levels of moisture there can be the growth of mold.

In this unfortunate case, the walls were completely covered except for a small closet type door where I could see the block foundation.  Older block foundations without proper drainage can have moisture issues.  The cores of the block can even hold water.   The block walls had yellow staining, surface deterioration and you could see where even some mortar joints were deteriorating.  All indicating moisture.  The problem I have here is that the walls have been finished without taking proper steps to reduce moisture and most likely hiding underlying issues.  The plaster on the back wall felt loose and was letting go from the block, also indicating moisture.  This home should have a foundation specialist brought in and a proper drain system installed.  The problem is the price point of the home vs the cost of the drain system.  Most people don’t want to spend this amount to fix an important issue, so owners will sometimes cover the walls in these conditions, as it’s less expensive.

My point of this blog is to bring awareness about the home you fell in love with, it could have underlying health issues associated with it.  The basement moisture issues should be resolved no matter the cost and at the time of the transaction.  The buyer and seller should work together to get to the bottom of the cause.   It’s your health and there are other homes out there if the issue can not be resolved.   Remember, If you are looking at homes and there is a severe musty smell in the lower level with fresh new finished walls, be aware.