We have recently (in July) moved in a home in Maryland and are having odor problem in the Basement. The house is 20 years old. There are no visible signs of mold or dampness. We tried running a dehumidifier and it didn't help. We tried opening the windows and door (it's a walkout basement so the door opens to backyard). We have a full bathroom in the basement. We tried running water in shower and sink to make sure the odor is not coming from there. Nothing is helping.
Its hard to describe the smell, but it's pretty much everywhere. It seem that the smell is stronger near the ceiling of the basement, and less in the wall/floor. The basement is close to 1500 Sq ft with 80% of it has tiles and one room (approx. 20%) has carpet. The house has two other floors and there are no odors there. I asked the previous owner and he told us that he never cleaned the ducts (he stayed for 5 years) and he used to run dehumidifier.
When we bought the house, we thought it originated from the food the previous owners ate and with some circulation it will go away. But, it doesn't seem to be the case. We really wanted to find out the source of it.
Re: Basement Odor
I know you said more smell was up in the ceiling, but I just wanted to note that humidity flows from humid to dry. As you dry out a room, that greater differential will draw more water from the concrete, which will draw more from the surrounding soil.
So, while you will dry out your air, you will continually pull more moisture any carpet you have down.
On this forum, as well as the AV Science (home theater) forum, they highly recommend a product like DriCore, Delta FL, or Platon, etc. on the floor.
On you wall, you can have polystyrene insulation, insulate the rim joist, etc. to keep moist air out / or keep interior moist air from condensing on cold surfaces. Also, you have to let the interior wood and insulation dry. If it has moisture condensing into liquid, mold will form, and you'll have more musty odor.
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