It’s Hard To Sell A Home With A Musty Smell

I have a super human sense of smell.  While this drives me (and my family, friends and co-workers) crazy at times, it sure does come in handy in the real estate business.  If a house has any musty smell, even hidden in a closet, I’ll usually smell it before my shoes are off at the door.

In my own home, this once resulted in my tearing off a piece of drywall in an interior closet only to find a coffee cup between two sheets of drywall left behind by the contractor.  No one else could smell it but to my nose, it was so musty that I couldn’t sleep at night even one floor away.

Do your windows sweat in the winter?  Have you noticed more static cling when you take clothes out of the dryer?
It is usually in the colder months when we most notice moisture issues in our home.  As cold and warm airs mix at certain points, we may find condensation forming on windows, musty smells or, dry skin and static.  Finding a balance is important as the long term effects on our homes and contents can be significant if left unattended.

One of the most common things I see in houses is mold growing on window ledges.  Often, the seals have failed on the window units themselves allowing cold air in to mix with the warm inside area which creates a perfect breeding ground for mold growth.  Another common issue is the presence of exposed concrete walls in a basement with insufficient heat and air exchange resulting in musty smells and often showing signs of mold growth.

During the heating season, the relative humidity of a home should be in the range of 30 to 50%.  In order to determine this, home owners can buy a fairly inexpensive gadget called a hygrometer which will provide a reading of the relative humidity in your home in various areas.  You can buy either mechanical or electronic versions at most hardware stores for under $50.00.  If you find the balance is off, there can be several reasons and many options for rectify those.

CMHC has an excellent booklet about moisture and air problem signs and remedies.  If you are having issues with either too much or too little humidity in your home, don’t ignore it.  Your health and comfort are important so it’s worth addressing the issues.

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About Marg

is an award-winning real estate Broker who has successfully been helping people move since 1989. When it’s time for a move in or out of a bigger, smaller, better, more expensive, less expensive, newer, older, house, condo, farm, investment property, vacant lot or business, talk to Marg.

This entry was posted by Marg on Monday, January 25th, 2010 at 11:08 am and is filed under Home Maintenance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. Teresa Dugan says:

    We have a bad smell when you enter the house. Our roofer tells us that its the air conditions ducts in the attic that they are old and causing a lot of moisture that has actually caused leaks into the house. We live in Miami, Fl. The smell is embarrassing and we don’t know what to do about it. We haven’t had the a/c checked yet because we find it hard to believe that it can cause water to flow into the house. The roofer says it is dry in the attic and that there is no smell up there.

  2. Marg says:

    There can be so many causes and I’m not sure that I would just rely on a roofer’s opinion. You may want to have a home inspector or engineer come in to assess the issue further because a musty smell could well be a sign of a more serious issue needing attention. I wish you success in getting it resolved.

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