Author Topic: How do I improve basement air quality?  (Read 16703 times)

TrulyStashin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1030
  • Location: Mid-Sized Southern City
How do I improve basement air quality?
« on: June 03, 2015, 01:56:14 PM »
I have a ranch house with a large walkout basement (1 bedroom, 1 bath, kitchen, great room) that I completely renovated in Q4 of 2013.  I rented it out for all of 2014 and had no complaints from the tenant as to funky basement smell.  She moved out for other reasons and was happy with the basement itself.  There are no issues with exterior water incursion and it's not really damp.  About 1/3 of it is above grade because of how the land drops away.

Though it's not damp, it's a little humid and there is a slight whiff of "basement" smell and I've had trouble finding another tenant (lots of responses to CL ads, a few showings, no follow through).   My BF commented that the "eau de basement" might be the problem.   It pays 3/4 of the mortgage so I need to figure this out!

Dehumidifier?  Air purifier?  Both?

Any brand recommendations?

KCM5

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 868
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 02:25:50 PM »
Our enclosed basement without any water issues definitely benefits from a dehumidifier. I have no experience with an air purifier, but the dehumidifier makes a very big difference. We got ours at a big box store - they are sized by area size, so pay attention to that. I don't know the brand - it was the cheapest one they had and we've been using it for 3 years with no issues.

If it's available, try to set it up next to a drain it can drain through a tube instead of needing to empty the bucket.

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2947
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2015, 03:37:21 PM »
There is probably no way to ever get rid of basement smell completely.   It is partly the concrete.   I have a great basement, which I remodeled myself and a I basically refuse to use it unless forced to.   Because,  hey its a basement.   I can see where they are way less preferable than above ground rentals. 

Here are some thoughts --

Use a dehumidifier ($300 variety)(24/7)

Open all vents and returns

I assume basement is on same HVAC?   If so,  run the blower 24/7/365 to move the air around up and downstairs.

Use a very high (smoke level)  filter in the HVAC.

Use borax on the carpet.   Buy numerous boxes and sprinkle it generously on the carpet and let it set for a few days.  Borax kills mold.   Then use a super duper vacuum to suck it up.

Hang a vanilla scented whole house type HVAC air freshener on the filter.  (They make these specifically to hang on HVAC air filters)

Mold is part of the smell.   Oddly,  women become very sensitive to the smell of mold with frequent exposure.  (men too,  just not to the same extent)   

Our house was a mold remodel foreclosure.    I can smell mold at 500 feet now. 

If you do all the mentioned steps plus adjust the rent accordingly you may be in luck.

I thought about renting ours out but you can hear every damn footstep and noise from upstairs.    So we put family and guests down there when they visit.   They never complain. 

 

ZiziPB

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3267
  • Location: The Other Side
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2015, 05:13:12 PM »
Yes, definitely a dehumidifier running 24/7 if the heat is not on.  It would be good if you could have it hooked up to a water waste line so that you don't have to empty the tank.

mjones1234

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 53
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2015, 02:07:24 PM »
Something that works for us: Buy a large bag of charcoal. Place the briquettes into a cooler /bucket and keep the lid open. Smell should be gone in 12 hours. We hide ours behind a table.

music lover

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 653
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2015, 03:24:24 PM »
99% of houses where I live have basements, and most people use them as living space. The key is to keep water out, and to keep humidity low. There is no reason for a basement to smell funky or "basementy".

In summer I run a dehumidifier set at 45% and keep the furnace fan on 24/7. On pleasant days I open all the windows to provide ventilation.

TrulyStashin

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1030
  • Location: Mid-Sized Southern City
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2015, 04:35:09 PM »
Like a good Mustachian, I had not been running the air conditioning.  Upstairs, no problem, leave the windows open and the ceiling fans running and we got past Memorial Day.

But, the basement was closed up during that time and with no HVAC running, it got funky smelling.  Within a week of my turning on the A/C system, the smell was much better.  At this point in the season, with the A/C running 24/7 (it's Virginia, after all), there is no smell at all.  Fortunately, I didn't buy a dehumidifier.  The one I found on CL was already sold and before I could find another, I noticed that having the A/C on seemed to be helping.

Also, I have new tenants!  They moved in July 11 -- a lovely newlywed couple in their early 20's.  He's a music minister at a nearby church.  She majored in classical piano and harp.  Not only is the rent on time, but they're super nice and I enjoy free concerts from time to time.  Hurray!

MsPeacock

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1505
  • Location: High COL
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2015, 05:33:09 AM »
I find that running the dehumidifier a few days per week takes care of the damp basement smell pretty well. The basement is dry and fully finished, but apparently needs drier air to not smell a little funky.

Jack

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4734
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2015, 06:45:09 AM »
Fortunately, I didn't buy a dehumidifier.  The one I found on CL was already sold and before I could find another, I noticed that having the A/C on seemed to be helping.

That's because an AC and a dehumidifier are basically the same thing, except that an AC vents the waste heat outside while a dehumidifier re-heats the room air after it cools it down (and also that an AC is controlled by a thermostat, while a dehumidifier is controlled by a humidistat).

Axecleaver

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3366
  • Location: New York
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2015, 09:30:36 AM »
Dehumidifier and activated charcoal will be your best bet. The advice on using charcoal is good, but you are better off using activated charcoal rather than the stuff from the grocery store. This captures something like 100x more odor. You can get it inexpensively from aquarium supply stores. Circulate the air and use the activated charcoal in front of a fan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activated_carbon

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13116
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2015, 09:49:07 AM »
Must smell means mold and fungus.  You can try using charcoal to hide it, but it's not really a solution.  A dehumidifier will need to be run almost constantly if you aren't properly insulated in the basement, as warm humid air from the upstairs comes down and hits the cold walls/floor and condenses (often where you can't see it easily).

Many basements are finished improperly with fiberglass batts between studs against walls (the fiberglass gets damp and wet and sags to remove insulative property, the studs get moldy behind the drywall) or carpet over concrete (or a bad subfloor of plywood over studs laid against concrete) . . . this hides mold/fungus growth and allows both the smell and moisture to travel into the area.  You want to use something like waterproof XPS boards to do your insulation.

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2947
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: How do I improve basement air quality?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2015, 12:04:57 PM »
Dehumidifier and activated charcoal will be your best bet. The advice on using charcoal is good, but you are better off using activated charcoal rather than the stuff from the grocery store. This captures something like 100x more odor. You can get it inexpensively from aquarium supply stores. Circulate the air and use the activated charcoal in front of a fan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activated_carbon

Excellent suggestion!   I believe I will add that to my bag of tricks.   In fact I could see filling several dozen small cotton bags and hanging them on my 32 by 30 air filter.   That way I'm hitting the whole house.   

There is also a method for cleaning the activated carbon once used so this would be a one time purchase.   You can google the cleaning methods.