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Old 02-26-2013, 10:47 AM   #1
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


We have an unused 4th bedroom in the house we just bought. It is an upstairs bedroom in our split level ranch. It has hardwood floors and 2 of the walls have windows. Another wall is adjacent to the bathroom (which has the plumbing for the sink in the wall).

When we first bough the house a couple months back we did notice a slight musty type odor in this room. We had a home inspection done and asked the inspector his opinion. He said it just smelled like "old house" to him and he wouldnt be concerned about it. It seems the smell has gotten stronger recently and I would like to do something about it.

I am hoping it is just from the condensation that builds up on the old aluminum windows. I am afraid my only option is to gut the room down to the studs. I have been up in the attic and it looks good up there. I cant really pinpoint the source although I think I can smell it more from the outlets against the one wall below the window.

Should I just go ahead and gut it or is there any other way to pinpoint it?

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Old 02-26-2013, 11:00 AM   #2
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


What type heat?
Notice any staining or recent drywall repairs under the windows?
How old is the house?
Been outside and looked at the caulking around the outside of the windows.
What type venting do you have on the roof?

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Old 02-26-2013, 12:01 PM   #3
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


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Originally Posted by joecaption
What type heat?
Notice any staining or recent drywall repairs under the windows?
How old is the house?
Been outside and looked at the caulking around the outside of the windows.
What type venting do you have on the roof?
Heat is hydronic baseboard.

No obvious recent repairs or staining.

House was built in 1962.

Havent been able to get a good look at the outside of these windows yet. They are high up and We have been buried in snow for a while. The upper windows are for the room in question.

Musty smell in extra bedroom-image-4282017123.jpg

Roof has soffit vents and a ridge vent.

On a side note. The adjacent bathroom does not have a vent fan (yet) so maybe the years of moisture can have something to do with it...
The bathroom was redone several years ago and it looks like They just thew new drywall over the old... Not sure why anyone would do that...

Lets say I found an obvious leak like a window issue... I think I will still have to rip out the drywall anyway. Since its winter maybe I should just gut the interior to inspect as I really cant do any repairs outside yet.
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:37 PM   #4
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


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We had a home inspection done and asked the inspector his opinion. He said it just smelled like "old house" to him and he wouldnt be concerned about it. Should I just go ahead and gut it or is there any other way to pinpoint it?
Gotta love the "old house smell" comment. It's really hard to tell where the smell comes from without putting a nose on it. Have you tried running a dehumidifier in the room and see if that helps? Gutting the room may not pinpoint the issue. Or it may....
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:45 PM   #5
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


Notice any ice dams on the roof this year?
The seal around the vent for the bathroom on the roof can rot out and leak water down inside the wall.
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:51 PM   #6
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


Havent seen any ice dams.. Not even one icicle on the house, which is a good thing I think.

I will take a look at the vent boot but it goes down in the opposite wall in the bathroom, the wall thats against the other (master) bedroom. The sink in that bathroom doesnt look like it has a direct vent near it. Not suprising, considering how the rest of the house was plumbed...
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Old 02-27-2013, 02:27 PM   #7
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


I'll bet there's mold inside the bathroom walls.

Any carpet in the smelly room? What's under the floor?
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Old 02-27-2013, 02:46 PM   #8
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


The Room has original oak hardwood floors and I can only assume theres a plywood subfloor. Below this room is another bedroom that does not smell.

I did put a digital hygrometer in the room for a few days, it never got up past 40 which seems to be the same throughout the rest of the house.
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Old 02-27-2013, 05:50 PM   #9
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


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Havent seen any ice dams.. Not even one icicle on the house, which is a good thing I think.
a very good thing
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:06 AM   #10
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


Im still kinda stumped on this one... We wpuld really like to use this room but my wife is adamant that we find the source of the smell.

Can anyone suggest the best way to start tackling this problem?

Should I start by making Inspection holes around the room to pinpoint the smell?

My fear is that I will tear it apart and not see anything obvious... Than what?

Thanks for all the input!
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Old 03-01-2013, 01:03 PM   #11
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


Still just guessing but the adjacent bathroom would be the most likely culprit. Either a leaky water pipe, drain pipe or toilet flange.
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Old 03-01-2013, 01:55 PM   #12
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


I think I will open the wall up where the sink is on the other side . Hopefully I will find something ti go on.
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Old 03-01-2013, 02:16 PM   #13
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


Is there a musty smell under the sink in the bathroom? I'm afraid this is kind of a shot in the dark. Does the tub drain/faucets or toilet plumbing share the bedroom wall also?
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Old 03-01-2013, 02:22 PM   #14
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


Bo smell at all in the bathroom. It has a pedastal sink. The sink is the only plumbing in that wall. The water pipes and the drain, all go down. There is no vent foing up through that wall. Its easy enough just to make a small hole to inspect. I will do that this weekend.
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Old 03-01-2013, 03:55 PM   #15
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Musty smell in extra bedroom


Get yourself a moisture meter --with two pins--these are used to test wood for moisture content--

After the next hard rain---check the moisture on the outside wall----if they vary---write the numbers on some masking tape and stick them where the test was done---a pattern will emerge--telling you the source of the moisture---

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