Does your house smell musty?

If you answered yes, then I have a simple answer for you – your crawl space is probably not encapsulated or it isn’t encapsulated properly. However, the root of the problem may be harder to find. Below are common reasons that your house might smell musty or foul.

Foreign Objects

Do you see anything in your crawl space that probably shouldn’t be there? Trash? Paint cans? Maybe even items from previous owners? Crawl spaces are a great place to store items, but only when the crawl space is sealed, clean, and odor free.

Rodents or Rodent Droppings

One of the most common problems that happen in crawl spaces that aren’t encapsulated. Mice, squirrels, possums, and other animals find a way into your crawl space. Both, decaying carcasses and fecal matter, will make your home smell.


Mold happens when moisture is in the air, which can produce a foul smell. Although, not all molds produce smells. However, mold can cause floor joists and other wooden structures to decay, which can produce nasty mildew odors. If you store boxes or other things in your crawl space, it’s a good idea to inspect those items for mold, especially if the air feels humid. If you do spot mold, it’s important to understand the potential health risk. Mold releases harmful toxins, which can affect your respiratory system. If you identify mold, you should contact a contractor and take steps to remove all signs of it immediately.

The Soil Beneath Your Home

If you have a crawl space with unsealed floors and exposed dirt, the dirt may be the source of the bad smell. Soils are naturally full of small organic materials, and as these materials decompose over time, this natural process of decay inevitably emits odors or even odorless radon gas, which can be dangerous. Moisture within the soil is bound to permeate upwards, causing the crawl space to become wet and damp. Water and moisture increase the decay of organic materials and therefore, the problem will persist.

Identifying Smells and Risks in Your Crawl Space

If you own or rent a home with a crawl space, carefully monitor the conditions inside, especially if you start to detect strange smells in your house. Whether you enlist the help of a contractor or inspector or take a look yourself, it’s important to properly identify the cause of the odor and to keep in mind any possible health risks. Being vigilant will help to keep your house smelling fresh and clean, and also protect your family from potential harm.

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