How to Remove Crawl Space Smell
To determine the best solution for how to remove crawl space smell, you first have to figure out where the smell is coming from. When looking for how to remove crawl space smell, start with these common culprits:
- Foreign objects. Is there anything in your crawl space that shouldn't be there? Do you have any paint cans lying around? What about trash that builders or contractors might have left behind, like food containers or empty soda cans? Did the previous owner leave anything? You can absolutely use your crawl space for storage, just make sure that before you put anything in there, that your crawl space is clean, sealed, and free of odors.
- Rodents and vermin. Take the time to look around your crawl space and make sure there aren't any decaying rodents, snakes, or other vermin. That goes for rodent droppings as well!
- Mold! Here's a biggie. Crawl spaces tend to attract mold because of the high moisture levels. Many crawl spaces have exposed earthen floors, which can allow ground moisture to seep out from underneath your home and increase the humidity levels - especially if you don't have a dehumidifier for crawl space. Not all molds produce a foul odor, but they can cause wood rot, which creates a nasty mildewy smell. If you have boxes or other items stored in your crawl space, make sure to periodically inspect them for mold - especially if you're aware of a moisture problem. If you find visible mold, beware: molds release mycotoxins which are harmful to the human respiratory system. Take caution and call a professional when needed.
- High humidity. A common problem in unsealed crawl spaces, high humidity is due to the presence of moisture. Bacteria can form where the concrete slabs have been poured and emit a foul smell.
- The soil under your house. Dirt can be a source of foul odors if you have a crawl space that is unsealed and has exposed dirt as the flooring. The organic materials that makeup soil decomposes over time, and the natural process of decay invariably produces odors. Moisture in the soil will pervade upward and cause your crawl space to become damp, which continues the cycle of the problem.
How to remove crawl space smell?
Now that you've determined where the odor is coming from, you can determine what action to take for how to remove crawl space smell. If you're dealing with a foreign object, it can be as simple as removing it from your crawl space. If it's rodents or vermin, call Animal Control or another professional to remove the carcasses. If it's mold, call a mold remediation specialist. High humidity? Invest in a dehumidifier. If it's the soil underneath your house, consider installing a crawl space barrier.
How to remove crawl space smell with a dehumidifier?
As air rises in a home, it carries with it the air that was previously in the crawl space. That includes moisture and mold spores, as well as anything else that may be airborne down there. As this air rises in the home, replacement air is drawn through the vents. This replacement air is made up of unconditioned outside air that enters through vents and other leaks. This natural upward air movement is called the "stack effect" - similar to how a chimney works.
Because of that, whatever is in the air at the lowest point of your home eventually flows up into the living areas. Almost half of the air we breathe on the first floor of our home comes from the crawl space. A dirt crawl space with open crawl space vents is a never-ending source of moisture. Even if the dirt's surface seems dry, digging down a few inches reveals moist earth. This moisture is constantly released into the crawl space.
How to remove crawl space smell with a crawl space barrier?
Crawl space foundation vapor barriers prevent ground moisture evaporation from entering your crawl space air. When you couple a crawl space foundation vapor barrier system with a waterproofing system, moisture and water can be barred from the crawl space before it has a chance to cause problems -which means no more mold, foul odors, rot, rust, insects, rodents, and other humidity- or moisture-related problems.
A crawl space foundation vapor barrier is designed to resist the flow of air. By stopping air movement, it turns your crawl space foundation into a semi-conditioned area by making the temperature close to the living spaces in your home above the crawl space. When the temperature in your crawl space foundation is similar to the temperature in your home's living areas, your floors feel warmer in the winter.
A crawl space foundation vapor barrier system also has been known to slow the movement of harmful gases like radon from infiltrating the soil, helping the crawl space foundation vapor barrier system greatly reduce the levels of radon found in the home.
Other Areas in the Home Prone to Odor?
Now that you know how to remove crawl space smell, lets take a look at another area of the home that is prone to having a smelly odor... your garbage disposal! Check out this simple garbage disposal odor removal how to video! These DIY Lemon Vinegar Ice Cubes will turn your stinky garbage disposal into smelling lemony fresh.
More info? For more information about common places for moisture in your home, check out our related post: Crawl Space Insulation: Best Practices to Energy Efficient Crawl Spaces.