DIY Home Improvement, Remodeling & Repair Forum > DIY Home Improvement > General Home Improvement Discussion > Old-House Smell

Help Support House Repair Talk by donating using the link above.
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 11-11-2010, 06:28 AM  
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 105
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default Old-House Smell

I live in a house built in the 40s. It has a distinctive smell that I call "old house smell." I've noticed a similar smell in other old houses. It's not necessarily a terrible smell, but i would like to change it. It can be altered somewhat by air fresheners, etc, but it never completely goes away. I'm sure those old houses that are rennovated on tv don't retain that smell, but unless I gut the house and start over, Is that just something I'm stuck with?

house92 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2010, 06:43 AM  
oldognewtrick's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Nashville, TN
Posts: 10,755
Liked 1422 Times on 1129 Posts
Likes Given: 407


First thing I'd check would be the old cast iron drainpipes. I use to have an old house and the drain rusted out in an attic crawl space and we had to replace all the way down to the basement floor.

oldognewtrick is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2010, 03:11 PM  
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 12
Default old house smell

I don't mean to be an alarmist, but we had that experience and it turned out to be a slow gas leak on the old stove. You might want to have someone check it out. Or, it's probably a plumbing issue. So, either way a plumber could help.
Allison1888 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2010, 02:02 PM  
Senior Member
Perry525's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Lake Wales, Fl.
Posts: 115
Liked 11 Times on 7 Posts


Basically its down to ventilation.
Most smells degrade over time and disappear.
Try opening the windows during the summer.

When your home was built, it probably had lots of cracks and holes, all these coupled with open fires helped to keep the place smelling nice (apart from the smells of wood, coal and soot)

Now to save on heating it is probably sealed up, try opening the windows a small amount every warm day, perhaps in the morning and evening.

Do check out the corners of rooms and the spaces behind furniture and curtains for damp patches and mold, it may well be fruiting mold that you can smell.

Then have a good sniff when you come home to smell the improvement.
Other than that, a mechanical ventilation system, that can be programmed to come on for a short time, will in time solve the problem.
Perry525 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2010, 10:36 AM  
Senior Member
granite-girl's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 204

I have the same problem - somewhat. My house smells "musty" When I take clothes out of the closet or clothes/blankets/... out of the house, they smell old & musty. My husband thinks because our house is basically all wood (wood walls & ceilings) with a flat roof & really no ventilation.
Yuck - I hate it. Most of the times I have to febreeze the ____ out of ny clothes & throw them in the dryer before I can wear them.
granite-girl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2010, 08:01 PM  
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Chestertown, Maryland
Posts: 44

I know the smell you are referring to. I do remodeling and live in an town with houses built in the 1700's. I noticed the smell in each house I work on. I noticed when renoving the old plaster, the wood has the same smell. If I am doing a complete remodel I will spray aluminum paint on the old framing and any wood exposed. This is the same thing I do on a fire job, It stops the smell. The way I look at the smell is, you know you have a well built house, not the junk some companies build in a week and are rotting away in 5 years. I have a customer that is in her 90's, she said she "airs ot the house on nice days". Enjoy
gmicken is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2011, 05:39 PM  
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Posts: 18

Ok, this is going to take some work but I know just the solution. Buy a pet product called anti icky poo. It is hard to find so buy it on the internet. Take a towel and wash the walls with it. Then wash the floors with it. You may have to do this several times - maybe 2 or 3 (but it works I swear) . It cleans the smell of urine, vomit, and even skunk. Another thing, when you clean it, do not dry it like you would when you wash the kitchen floors. Let it airdry. THis is what makes it work. It is an enzyme and needs to get into the walls and floors. You can even do this on hardwood floors, doors and metal - I have a boiler system and had to clean the heater things....I forgot what they are called hahaha. Another way to do this if you are repainting your house anyways is to paint all the walls with KILLS or BIN and then paint. It will cover up all smells as it is a really thick primer. They even have KILLS that covers smells. Good lucK~
eokhuijzen is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-16-2011, 09:54 PM  
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Hartfield VA, VA
Posts: 2,004
Liked 271 Times on 214 Posts
Likes Given: 77


Also check under the house if there's a crawl space. There needs to be a 6 Mil. plastic vaper barrier on the ground under it. Look to see if there's standing water under the house. If it's a shingled roof make sure there's a ridge vent on the peak of the roof. Make sure the soffit vents are not painted over or there's insulation in the attic covering them. Make sure there's working gutters.
Painting over will seal in the odor for a while but why not get rid of what's causing the odor in the first place.
joecaption is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-20-2011, 02:48 AM  
Junior Member
lily694's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: PR, Ontario
Posts: 14

it probably needs a lot of repairing and renovating, definitely more replacing to get rid of that old house smell
Woodworking Project Ideas

Last edited by lily694; 01-21-2011 at 04:53 AM.
lily694 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 01-20-2011, 04:40 AM  
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 253

Agree on lily. Renovation I think is one of the best way. It's expensive I think but effective...

“You can always get someone to love you, even if you have to do it yourself
frozenstar is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter DIY Home Repair Forum Replies Last Post
Old House Smell Vicky123 General Home Improvement Discussion 1 06-29-2013 12:08 PM
Sewage Under House: How To Remove Smell rajivsab Framing and Foundation 5 02-17-2008 09:50 PM
Sewage Under House: How To Remove Smell rajivsab Plumbing Forum 3 11-26-2007 08:58 AM
Sewage Under House: How To Remove Smell rajivsab General Home Improvement Discussion 2 11-25-2007 01:40 PM

Newest Threads