Does your basement have a lingering odor? If so, you’re not alone. Truth be told, most people struggle to keep their basements smelling fresh. After all, basements are underground and often damp and dark. But they don’t have to smell bad. Once you know the source of an odor, you can treat it and enjoy a clean scent whenever you head downstairs.
Look for the Source of the Problem
Before you can take steps to fight basement odors, you need to find their source. Most commonly, basements smell because:
- The pipes are leaking. Any liquid leaking from the pipes will linger on the basement floor or on storage boxes and will stay there to rot if the basement is dark and closed off.
- The pipes are condensating. In some climates, pipes will switch back and forth between being hot and cold, which can cause dirty water to collect on the outside.
- The basement is humid. If you live in a humid area, humidity can get trapped inside your basement and allow mildew to grow if you don’t air it out.
- There’s a dried-out water trap under a drain. Ideally, water traps stay filled with water and prevent sewage from seeping into your basement floor. A dried-out tap allows sewer water to come through.
As you search for the source, pay attention to what your basement reeks like. If it’s mildewy, you likely have a problem with your pipes or humidity. But if it smells like a sewer, something’s wrong with your drainage system. Very possibly, you have a problem with your backwater valve.
Why You Need a Backwater Valve
Backwater valves are surprisingly small devices for how much support they provide in plumbing. They help prevent flooding and sewage backup in your basement. One minor problem with the valve can affect the drains in your entire house—leaving you the victim of a odorous sewage smell in every room you enter. So if you detect this smell in your basement, make sure this valve is working properly.
Ideally, a backwater valve shuts automatically when sewage backs up in the pipes surrounding your house. It only works if it’s positioned so that it prevents sewage backup in all of your plumbing outlets though. It also works in tandem with a sump pump and pit (parts of the drainage system that collect excess water in your basement and flush it through the pipes so it doesn’t build up).
If you don’t have a backwater valve, get one. And if you need any work done to repair or install it, opt for professional assistance. Don’t try to fix a bad valve on your own—one false step with plumbing can lead to far worse problems than a lingering basement odor. You can rely on the expertise of a plumber from Oakville to Orlando and everywhere in between. They will know exactly how to place a backwater valve and can detect other problems with your basement’s pipes and drainage system.
Tend to Other Causes of the Smell
If you’ve taken care of your backwater valve and still detect odors in your basement, tend to those other common issues in the plumbing. Sometimes getting rid of that smell is simpler than you’d expect. You can:
- Ventilate the basement. Open up windows and install a fan to get rid of humidity and dry up any leaks.
- Install a MOISTURESORB® Dehumidifier. This will help in solving your mildew problems as well as venting the bad air.
- Dispose of old, mildewy items. Even if your pipes don’t leak anymore, old boxes and furniture in your basement may still have lingering water and sewage on them. Toss those items before the smell gets worse.
- Replace bad pipes. If your pipes are leaking, fix them! They might be old or damaged, so before they cause any more damage, call a plumber to repair or replace them.
- Fill your water trap. It’s as simple as that. If the trap is dried out, filling it with water will hydrate it and prevent sewage from entering.
As you detect and treat these causes, you’ll find ways to get rid of these odors, as well as keep them away. Whether the source of your basement odors are small or large, you can combat them and enjoy a fresh-smelling basement once again.
Candice Harding enjoys writing about home improvement tips and the great products she finds online. She recommends the Plugged Piper to anyone in need of excellent plumbing services. When she’s away from the computer, she loves riding her bike and exploring the outdoors. She scours the Internet for quality deals to publish on her website, myredbicycle.com.