I have a serious problem concerning a basement. My basement is detached from my house. It had a house on top but was torn down but we decided to keep the basement for storage. I had a metal roof put on and believe I have it adequately insulated. The basement has the waterlines going thru it to the new home we have beside the basement. The area is heated with 2 ventless gas heaters and I have a dehumidifier running 24/7. The problem is the musty stale smell that is not only in the air but is on everything that is being stored. This has caused seasonal decorations such as Christmas ornaments, clothing, and the extra large canning pots etc to be thrown away. I believe that perhaps we need to ventilate the basement but how do we do this without loosing the heat that is necessay to keep water lines from freezing in our northwestern Pennsylvania climate.
Re: Musty,smelly basement
Unlike a thermos bottle, living environments need one air change per hour. Sealing off the space, then burning a fuel that contains some water will add humidity to the space. Running the de-humidifier partially solves the problem as you found.
Add some air flow, stop heating the entire space and use pipe heater cables under the new pipe insulation. This method is a lot cheaper than adding heat to the whole space and keeping that dehumidifier running.