Skunky Basement Odor

Discussion in 'General Home Improvement Discussion' started by Katie Mott, Apr 16, 2019.

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  1. Apr 16, 2019 #1

    Katie Mott

    Katie Mott

    Katie Mott

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    My family and I moved into a house in October 2017 and since then we occasionally smell a skunky odor in the basement. It was incredibly strong when we first toured the house and we joked that the owners smoked a certain illegal substance, but didn't think much more of it. That summer had been particularly wet and we do have some moisture problems in the basement.

    Since then the smell has continued, but is intermittent and we can't seem to figure out the reason for the smell. It's almost always worse at the top of the basement stairs (most likely from trapped, rising air) and is only noticeable in the finished part of the basement. The unfinished part, where we have most of the moisture issues, is fine. That is also where the furnace is located.

    The smell is more noticeable in warmer weather and when there is a dramatic temperature change. Perhaps when it rains, as well. The smell was almost unnoticeable during the cold winter months so the only thing we know fore sure is that it is aggravated by warmer weather.

    We have had all sorts of people come to look at the basement - several plumbers, HVAC companies, environmental services, etc. Some people can smell it and others cant. Our sump pump pit is open and is located in the finished part of the basement that smells, but it's not a rotten egg smell like sewer gas.

    The only other consideration was our basement carpeting. There is a pad directly on the concrete slab underneath old berber carpet. But again, it doesn't smell like mildew. It smells like skunk.

    Does anyone have any insight into what this smell could be and why it only shows up at certain times? We're going nuts trying to figure it out!

    Thanks,
    Katie
     
  2. Apr 16, 2019 #2

    Sparky617

    Sparky617

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    It could be cat pee. Get a black light flashlight, available at Petsmart. If there are areas where a cat or dog peed the carpet or floor will light up when hit with the black light. If it is the old Berber carpet, you may be better off pulling it out and replacing it. There are sprays at the pet stores to handle urine odors. If the carpet was damaged by a pet, be sure to check the concrete once you pull the carpet. Pee may be in the concrete as well. You can also clean with Oxy Clean type products to get rid of the smell.

    A dehumidifier may help on your water issues. Along with redirecting water from your gutters further away from the house.
     
  3. Apr 16, 2019 #3

    Katie Mott

    Katie Mott

    Katie Mott

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    Interesting. We had never considered cat pee because the smell seems different to me. We are planning on ripping out the carpet so perhaps we'll do that sooner than later.

    We do have a dehumidifier running both in the finished and unfinished parts of the basement. The previous owners did not have one going which is mind blowing. Also scoped all of the downspouts and they checked out.

    Thanks!
     
  4. Apr 16, 2019 #4

    Katie Mott

    Katie Mott

    Katie Mott

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    The other ridiculously strange thing is that sometimes I'm in Home Depot and I get a whiff of the exact same smell. Although I cant remember what aisle it's near.
     
  5. Apr 17, 2019 #5

    Sparky617

    Sparky617

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    The black light test would show you if there is something in the carpet or on the concrete floor the could be creating the smell. Urine, skunk spray, and puke residue would all be revealed by the black (ultraviolet) light.

    Odd smells in a home center would likely be found in the home and garden center around the fertilizer, pesticides and the like. Also, some plants can have a pretty strong odor. Other areas could include the cleaning products aisle. The lumber area has a distinct smell, but I wouldn't find it objectionable.
     

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