Old chair (Photo: @vedrana2701 via Twenty20)

What Causes that Musty Old-House Smell?

Are you overpaying for car, home, or renters insurance? Compare to find out in 45 seconds.
Quotes from up to 45 companies · No long forms · No phone calls
Old chair (Photo: @vedrana2701 via Twenty20)
If you detect a musty smell in your home, chances are you have mold or mildew are lurking somewhere out of sight. Not only can mold and mildew aggravate your allergies, the spores can make underlying respiratory conditions worse and even cause new health issues to develop.
Mold growth causes a byproduct of the chemical reactions that create its signature, old house smell or musty odor.
Knowing what can create a mildew smell in your home is the first step in finding the source and eliminating it altogether.

Causes of musty smells in a home

You can buy all the air purifiers and air fresheners in the world, but it will not save your indoor environment from a mold infestation. To combat a mold problem, you have to know what’s causing it. 99% of the time, a mold problem is due to excess moisture, but here is an extensive list of all the culprits you should consider:
Humidity: The buildup of water in your home can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. One primary cause of this moisture buildup is humidity. Usually encountered in the summer months, the moisture and heat of humidity fuel the growth of mold, causing the problem to wax and wane in accordance with the seasons.
Water damage and leaks: Water damage in your home can also signal the presence of mold or mildew. If your home experiences a leak or flood, it’s imperative to dry the affected area as soon as possible. If water is allowed to sit behind your walls, for example, a mold problem is inevitable.
Water pipes are also likely culprits, as well as air conditioning and heating unit drain lines. Moisture can also seep in around basement walls or in the crawl space beneath your home. Inspecting your home occasionally can help you find these problem areas.
Washing machines: Front-load washers can also be hotbeds for mold. The washer retains moisture at the base of the unit. Sitting water causes bacteria to grow, which can lead to the growth of mold and a musty smell. Regularly cleaning your washing machine can help curb mold growth.
Windows: Windows undergo a lot of condensation, which can fuel mold growth. Cleaning your window sills and tracks occasionally can help get rid of any mold or mildew.
Refrigerators/ freezers: The door gaskets of your refrigerator or freezer can harbor the growth of mold and mildew because there is a lot of condensation present. Cleaning these occasionally makes it impossible for mold to fester.
Plants: Overwatered plants in your home can be another source of mold and mildew. In addition to not overwatering them, you should also allow your plants to dry between watering sessions. Also, remove any dead leaves and debris and spritz the soil with microbial inoculant to promote the growth of good bacteria.
Garbage can: Garbage cans are a breeding ground for mold and mildew when they’re not properly cleaned. In addition to moisture, food residue can also promote the growth of mold and mildew. Cleaning the surface of your trash can with a surface odor remover will often eliminate the smell.
Ultimately, the best way to rid your home of musty smells is to find the source of the problem and eliminate it. If you find mold in your home, a good cleaning with bleach and baking soda will have your indoor space filled with fresh air in no time.