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Old 04-23-2013, 09:36 PM   #1
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


We moved into a ranch style house 2 years ago and noticed a musty smell a fews weeks later. The strongest smell comes from my 2 yr old daughter's bedroom. I can describe it as a musty smell that eminates from the elctrical outlets. Over the past 7 months we have had 2 mold engineers come out, a basement guy, 2 builders, a roofing and siding company and an electrician. No one could figure out why these rooms smell musty. One of the mold companies did an air test and found a level 3 for aspergillis (caused by moisture) but still had no clue of where mositure could be coming from. We decided to rip down 3 outside walls and the interior wood had no signs of water intrusion. We bleached and cleaned, added new insulation and drywall. The musty smell was gone for about 2 months and is now back. I can tell by just sniffing the electrical outlets again. We were told that our basement is dry as we run a dehumidifier 24 hours a day. The well and sump pump is right below this bedroom. We were also told our roof, attic and siding all look great. We did add in blown in insulation maybe 3 months after we moved in. We are at our whits end trying to figure out why the smell came back and why? Has anyone had this issue before. PLEASE HELP!

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Old 04-23-2013, 10:04 PM   #2
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


I don't really have any answers for you, only a couple of suggestions. Are the screws in the electrical boxes rusty? If so, moisture is getting in somehow somewhere. It can be very hard to pinpoint the source of moisture, especially if it's a small leak somewhere. I found a couple links where homeowners had similar problems. Hopefully the links may give you some other ideas moving forward on what to do next.

Is smell present all the time? Stronger at certain times, like when it's humid weather or raining?

Have you tried a certified master plumber? Maybe small plumbing leak? (it doesn't take much), any window sills leaking? Good luck to you. I hope you find the source soon.

link 1

link2

link3


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Old 04-23-2013, 10:27 PM   #3
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


Insert a temperature probe in beside the box to determine if that area is reaching dew point temperature caused by cold air coming down from the attic space.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:21 AM   #4
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


The electrical screws were not rusty and there is no plumbing in the walls. The windows were also dry when we took the sheetrock off. I will take a look at the links. Thank you
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Old 04-24-2013, 07:18 AM   #5
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


I would start by air sealing any holes that were made in the basement and the attic to run the wiring and plumbing with expanding foam.
While your in the attic may as well also seal around any ceiling fixtures.
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Old 04-24-2013, 11:46 AM   #6
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


What kind of siding is on the house?

I have old cedar shakes and in certain circumstances notice what one could call a musty smell in a certain area.
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:00 PM   #7
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


What is the basement like? Is it a crawlspace or full basement? Finished and conditioned? Do you have a dehumidifier running down there?
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:33 PM   #8
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Our siding is wood shakes. My father and husband starting cutting down the bushes today that line 2 of the rooms. We also have pebbles instead of mulch and they did notice a thick plastic underneath that. (Probably used so weeds will nto grow) Our next plan is too remove all the pebbles and plastic lining to dry out the soil that touches the outside foundation. They also sprayed foam into under the bottom shingles in case anything was getting under there. I'm hoping this may help a bit. Where do I find a temperature probe and what temperature am I looking for? Our basement is not finished and we run a dehumidifier 24/7. As far as the attic, we added insullation about 7 months ago. The spray tyoe thats in little peices.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:16 PM   #9
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


Quote:
Originally Posted by angelaglen View Post
Where do I find a temperature probe and what temperature am I looking for?
I was thinking dew point temperature that would cause condensation but on second thought that would probably have happened back during colder weather and isn't pertinent now, but the residual ramifications could still be there if that happened.

Being the problem is in an outside wall an ice dam in the past shouldn't be ruled out if you are in a climate that breeds that type of thing. There could have been an ice dam in the history of the structure that no one ever detected and this problem has been there for a long time.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:26 PM   #10
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


The previous owners did say that the roof had leaks but not in this bedroom, yet they did replace the roof in 2006. We live in CT. We just had a roofing guy here on Tuesday night and he said everything looked fine. This has been a nightmare so right now we are in the process of elimination. It justs upsets me that professionals cannot figure out the problem. We even spent $600 for a mold industrial engineer to come out. That was a waste of money.
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Old 04-26-2013, 07:37 AM   #11
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


Quote:
Originally Posted by angelaglen View Post
Our siding is wood shakes. .
Since this is the case, I would definitely see if there is some air infiltration from the outside near this area. Could be worth it to pull a few courses down and see what is going on from the outside. Potentially reinstall felt paper/house wrap and see what happens.

In my circumstance, the room is an on-grade slab foundation so the shakes are in very close proximity to the ground/earth.
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:49 PM   #12
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Musty Smell from Electrical Outlets


Thank you. We started ripping out bushes that were close to the house and plastic that was underneath gravel. We may start ripping down the bottom shingles to see what is going on. We definitley had some air filtration and we noticed this when we took the sheetrock and insulation down in that bedroom.

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