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Thread: House Odor Help for Friend in Phoenix

  1. #1
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    Unhappy House Odor Help for Friend in Phoenix

    She is first of all an immaculate housekeeper which makes this even more puzzling! Their house has a "musty" smell, not pet, not food, not dust, not furnace, not plants, not smoke, vaguely sort of damp. They have checked drains, pipes, furnace, appliances, shampooed rugs, laundered everything, cleaned attached garage, searched closets, checked roof, cleaned all footwear, checked luggage, and everything else they can think of to possibly be the cause. They have put our activated charcoal and the smell remains. They do not want to mask it with scents, but rid it. Any suggestions ?

  2. #2
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Has she tried simply opening windows and airing it out? My other thought is to put vinegar in little dishes in every room for a day or so, but I can't remember if that was for odor or something else. Can't hurt to try.

  3. #3
    Super Member tesspug's Avatar
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    Rosie might help, She has a show on the radio in Phoenix. http://www.azcentral.com/style/hfe/d...ie-romero.html

  4. #4
    Junior Member jokir44's Avatar
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    It could be that the basement floor has dropped away from the walls a tiny bit. That happened to us and while we didn't see it, we could smell it. Basement repairs may be in order but sure hope not..

  5. #5
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    Do they have a sump pump? If they do, they should check this out. HEPA filters can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowe's etc. they are free standing filters that remove 99% of all allergens and contaminants. This will remove the musty smell. How old is the house? Do they have a basement? If so, there may be leaking water down the walls. Have they checked the outside lines? We had a broken pipe for a year before we realized it.

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    Does it have a sump pump that the smell may be coming from? Have they checked the attic to make sure there is no mold in the attic? What kind of insulation does the house have? There is a kind of sprayed in foam that gives off gases. There was a report of dry wall from China that gave off irritating gas and some of the houses were condemned. If they are having health problems it is time to call in an air quality professional.

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    Does she have bathroom tubs that they don't use or sinks. I found if we don't keep water in the traps, they will dry out and you can get an odor. She might think about that.

  8. #8
    jna
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    It probably has to do with a fireplace more than anything else if they have one. We were told our chimney has to bebuilt higher than it was and that made a difference. living in Phoenix also. Most of us don't have basements. - jna

  9. #9
    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    Probably time to call a professional....could be rising damp, sometimes the ground the house is built on (what's underneath?), if it is damp, it will need to be fixed before they start getting toxic mould build ups. Hope they work out what it is before their health gets affected.

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    Is there mildew in the pad under the carpets? We had a leak from an outside faucet pipe that burst without our knowledge. The pipe ran inside the wall in a downstairs bedroom closet. Started with a slow leak but built up over time and eventually burst. We contained it, but when we pulled up the carpet in that room, we found black mildew growing on the cement floor. No barrier was put down before the builders put a carpet pad and carpet down. We also at one time found a dead bat in the duct work. That smell is a musty unpleasant odor. Friends of ours had a bat infestation in their attic above a hallway. They could not figure out where the musty smell was coming from for quite some time as the smell permeated throughout several rooms of the house. The bat droppings were a real mess just beyond the attic entrance in the ceiling of the hallway. They didn't trace it until the weather turned warmer and the bat urine gave off a rancid ammonia smell.
    Have they checked behind the shower walls? We have a downstairs bathroom that has the shower wall exposed into a back room. We found mold growing on that from a leak draining down from a defective drain in the tub to the bathroom on the upper floor.

    I would pay for a home inspection. Good luck to them and hopefully they will be rid of this soon.

  11. #11
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    My experience is that somewhere in their house there is a water leak. They should take the advice already given and have professionals check. Unfortunately it will probably cost thousands to fix.

    The only way I'll drop 10 pounds is to go shopping in England. - Maxine-

  12. #12
    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    Don't know how it works in the USA, but here for around $450.00 you can hire an expert from a registered building/architectural company who only do inspections and troubleshoot -not repair. They give a written report and will advise on how to fix the problems. Then you have the option of tackling the job yourselves or hiring a relevant tradesman. The $$$$ add up when you hire a contractor who troubleshoots and fixes.

  13. #13
    Junior Member Suzette316's Avatar
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    Sometimes there are plumbing issues where the pipes leak inside the walls. If it's a small enough leak or drip, you might not see any wetness on the outside of the wall, but it's damp inside and causes a musty smell. Lot's of possibilities. I hope she resolves it soon. This kind of thing can be a nightmare.

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    Super Member DebbE's Avatar
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    Is there a bathroom where the sink or shower haven't been used in a long time? The water evaporates in the U trap and if it isn't used in a while you can get sewer gas. Also, is there crawl space under the house? If there is, check the yard to see if its graded to drain water away from the house -- if it isn't, it may be under the house and building up bacteria/mold.

  15. #15
    Super Member DebbE's Avatar
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    I'd also go up into the attic to check for any possible roof leaks -- it could be just small enough that it dampens the insulation/top of drywall and there could be bacteria/mold there, too.

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    Super Member GailG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LenaBeena View Post
    She is first of all an immaculate housekeeper which makes this even more puzzling! Their house has a "musty" smell, not pet, not food, not dust, not furnace, not plants, not smoke, vaguely sort of damp. They have checked drains, pipes, furnace, appliances, shampooed rugs, laundered everything, cleaned attached garage, searched closets, checked roof, cleaned all footwear, checked luggage, and everything else they can think of to possibly be the cause. They have put our activated charcoal and the smell remains. They do not want to mask it with scents, but rid it. Any suggestions ?
    have they checked for water leaks within the walls? We had a similar situation. Could not find the source of the musty smell. Well, when we found it, it was mold and mildew from a leaking pipe within the slab underneath the kitchen cabinets. We saw no evidence of water until we began to see dampness at the front base of the cabinet. When we tore it down all was covered with mold and pretty far gone. Needless to say we had our pipes rerouted through the walls and ceiling and changed the cabinets. No more smell!
    One step at a time, always forward.

  17. #17
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    You stated they have cleaned everything. Has she laundered all, every scrap, of her stach. Material will take on a sour ordor after time, even if you wash fabric when you buy it. Mold is something you don't want to mess with.

  18. #18
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    any clay in her foundation? if it gets wet, it stinks.

  19. #19
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    My daughter had a problem like this, it was the tile in the bathroom leaking moisture into the wall. Had to have wall repaired and tile redone.

  20. #20
    Super Member Sierra's Avatar
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    Mold and mildew can not only cause smells but they can be very bad for the health of the occupants. Please call in a professional. This can be really life changing if not addressed!

  21. #21
    Senior Member Sapphire_Rae's Avatar
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    Do they have a crawl space under the house? Could be something like pack rats under the house.
    Lynda Rae

    "One who makes no mistakes -- never makes anything!" Author Unknown

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    this sounds crazy but I know of a lady that couldn't find the source of where her problem was it just smelled musty she poured bleach down every drain every day for about a week and the smell left now she flushes bleach about once a week to prevent it happening again. she could try this untill she can get it fixed if it is a leak

  23. #23
    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    If it is mold that is undetected, place bicarbonate of soda in containers in the suspect places. Half a teaspoon of oil of clove in a litre of water will kill mold spoors. Bleach does not kill them - they always come back if you use bleach. Spray onto the mould and wipe off after a few minutes. It will have a strange smell as well but it soon goes away. All the best with your problem.

  24. #24
    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jitkaau View Post
    If it is mold that is undetected, place bicarbonate of soda in containers in the suspect places. Half a teaspoon of oil of clove in a litre of water will kill mold spoors. Bleach does not kill them - they always come back if you use bleach. Spray onto the mould and wipe off after a few minutes. It will have a strange smell as well but it soon goes away. All the best with your problem.
    If it is the drains, half a cup of bicarb soda and half a cup of salt. Put into the drain and add one cup of vinegar. Be careful as it will bubble up. After a few minutes, flush the sinks.,

  25. #25
    Super Member KalamaQuilts's Avatar
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    Just a note, if you have a septic tank please don't do this, it kills the bacteria that breaks down what comes into it.

    Quote Originally Posted by sassey View Post
    this sounds crazy but I know of a lady that couldn't find the source of where her problem was it just smelled musty she poured bleach down every drain every day for about a week and the smell left now she flushes bleach about once a week to prevent it happening again. she could try this untill she can get it fixed if it is a leak
    Since it is Phoenix in an ultra dry climate, has she had the swamp cooler/air conditioner serviced?
    Otherwise I agree with the others water is leaking somewhere and needs to be stopped or dry rot will set in and it is like cancer, just keeps growing if the wood isn't replaced.

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