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Could this be the cause of my musty smell (house not me)

Discussion in 'Building' started by mcdermottc, 9 Aug 2018.

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  1. mcdermottc

    mcdermottc

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    1971 built house with musty smell. Solid brick walls downstairs (two rows of bricks no breezeblock) with timber frames upstairs. The house has concrete floors, but has a strange 2-3 inch timber floor to allow pipes underneath (see pics).

    When we viewed the property it was occupied by three elderly people so I assumed it was just old furniture, fittings etc and the smell would dissapear.

    A year on and the musty smell has not dissappeared. Before turning out attention to doing up the house (garden now finished) I would like to fix the smell obviously.

    The previous occupants lived in the house for 27 years, but prior to this I have been told that the property lay empty for a while during which the pipes burst. This may have been before or after the strange timber floor was installed I dont know.

    House has:
    • No evidence at the bottom of the walls of damp or black mildew marks in corners. No flaking wallpaper.
    • We do not get condensation on windows.
    • Have lifted some floorboard sheets and can see black marks in some areas, but the concrete floor is dry with no sign of wetness.
    • Concrete floor doesnt even look like its had a screed to smooth, so is very rough.
    • The house does not have any air bricks on the outside, against an inside wall.
    • Smell is really bad in the cupboard under the stairs.
    • Drains run along the edge of front and back of house, but appear not to be blocked.
    • No musty smell upstairs (apart from sons bedroom)

    Where should I start looking to eliminate possible causes of the smell ?

    I wondered if the smell was caused by lack of air circulation under the strange flooring. Since there is no airbricks there would be no air circulation underneath.
     

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  3. JohnD

    JohnD

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    is there a water meter?

    Where do the soil pipe and the kitchen sink drains go?

    When you lift the wooden floor, is it musty underneath?

    the black mark on the board is damp-related mildew.

    tape some clear plastic tightly to the concrete subfloor and see if mist or droplets of water form on it.

    did the previous owner's first wife suddenly go missing?
     
  4. mcdermottc

    mcdermottc

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    Thanks for reply John...

    No water meter, we are connected directly to the mains (somehow)

    Soil pipe and kitchen sink feed into a pipe which runs along the back of the house (maybe 1/2 metre from house). There is another one at the front of the house. These both connect into a man hole and then have long run into the main sewers out on the road. The house is a chalet bungalow which the farmer built in the corner of a field. The previous occupants had sinks in three rooms downstairs, which also fed into the drain pipes which run along the side of the house. I have removed these and blocked off the ends, although the pipe to drain is still there (just blocked off). Smell was there before I did this job.

    When I lift the floor it doesnt smell that musty, but of course when you have been in the house 5 mins your nose adjusts.

    Will try the tape tomorrow and let you know what happens. The floor doesnt seem damp, there is a lot of dust on top which seems dry.
     
    Last edited: 9 Aug 2018
  5. ivixor

    ivixor

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    Get rid of that old mouldy chipboard and have the floor properly screeded.
     
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  7. mcdermottc

    mcdermottc

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    Ok apologies for delay.

    I have now lifted the floor again and I take it back it does smell musty under there.

    Plastic is down but I guess I need to wait a while to see if moisture appears. Will report back. To be honest it is very dusty and feels dry so hopefully no damp rising.
     
  8. mcdermottc

    mcdermottc

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    I think this is probably good advice. I don't like the condition of the subframe and chipboard, so its either replace the all of this or go back to a concrete floor. The question would be if I went down this route, what do I do with the pipes and electric cables ?

    If no moisture appears on the plastic would this mean no issue with rising damp, therefore I wouldnt need to add any damp proof membrane etc and could just get a screed floated on top of existing concrete the level ?
     
  9. bobasd

    bobasd

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    i think its very bad advice.
    youve got a suspended floor.odd but suspended.

    your problem seems to be lack of through ventilation. fit some air bricks an make sure you have an air flow below that floor .
    - you dont say where the rooms located?

    if a smell the only problem then leave well alone - dont go disruptin an ripping out what works an then pouring concrete, you could give youself more problems.
     
  10. Nige F

    Nige F

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    FWIW I have a smell from my boarded (not chipboard) floor due to inadequate number of air bricks and occasional water ingress from the ground - both sorted a year ago - the smell is still there but getting fainter, due to a gale now blowing through the 2 foot deep void.;) What I did in one room while the carpet was up for renewal was paint the whole floor with a sealer - one of Zinsser products. It seemed to help in that room.
     
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