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5 Ways to Get Rid of Musty Basement Smells

Man holding nose due to musty odors.

Does your home seem to smell bad every time you walk inside? Well, if you have a basement, the problem could be coming from there. Thankfully, our team can show you how to get rid of musty basement smells with five effective tools.

The main takeaway is this: musty basement smells usually come from moisture issues, so keeping the basement dry is the best way to keep it from smelling bad. Let’s dig in.

Effective Ways to Prevent Musty Basement Smells

1. Wall Vapor Barrier

Vapor barrier being installed.

Wall vapor barriers are special materials that we install on your basement walls. These barriers are designed to stop water vapor from coming through the walls. Water vapor is a big reason why basements get damp and smell musty. By stopping this vapor, the barriers help keep your basement dry and free of any musty smells.

2. Self-Draining Dehumidifier

Basement dehumidifier with connection.

A self-draining dehumidifier is a machine that takes moisture out of the air in your basement. Unlike most dehumidifiers, you don’t have to empty it yourself because it connects to your discharge lines and drains automatically.

Having a dehumidifier keeps the air in your basement dry, which helps prevent mold growth (one of the main causes of musty basement smells). It’s a simple solution that can make a big difference in how your basement feels and smells.

3. Sump Pump System

Fully installed sump pump.

A sump pump system is an effective way to remove water that moves to the lowest part of your basement. Sump pumps catch water in a sump pit, and as the water rises, the pump turns on automatically to remove the captured water. This system is really good at keeping your basement free of musty odors because it stops water from flooding and building up.

4. Interior Drainage System

Fully installed basement drainage system.

An interior drainage system runs along the inside perimeter of your basement. It catches any water that leaks into your basement (either through walls or windows) and directs it to your sump pump system. This way, water doesn’t get a chance to make your basement wet and musty. It’s a great solution for keeping your basement dry and comfortable.

5. Anti-Freeze Discharge Line Attachment

Anti-freeze discharge line attachement.

Anti-freeze discharge line attachments are placed onto water lines leading out of your basement. They make sure that even in very cold weather, the water removed by your sump pump can still flow out of your basement. This is important because if water can’t get out, it could freeze and cause problems. These attachments help keep your basement dry all year round, no matter the weather.

By using these solutions, AFS Foundation Repair & Waterproofing Specialists can help you get rid of musty basement smells. Keeping your basement dry is key to preventing these smells, and with these solutions, you can enjoy a fresher, more comfortable home.

What Causes Musty Basement Smells?

Moisture in your basement is the main reason you might notice musty smells in your home. When your basement is damp, it becomes the perfect place for mold and mildew to grow. These fungi release a strong, musty odor that can spread throughout your home.

Moisture can come from many sources, like rainwater getting in through wall cracks or high humidity in the basement. When the basement is wet, unwanted smells are more likely to stick around on damp surfaces such as carpet or wood.

Not to mention, moisture can damage your home’s structure and belongings, making the problem even worse. That’s why keeping your basement dry is so important—by controlling moisture, you can prevent musty smells and keep your basement fresh and clean.


Yes, musty basement smells can affect your health. The odors are often due to mold and mildew, which can cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and other respiratory issues, especially in sensitive individuals or those with pre-existing health conditions.

It’s a good idea to check your basement for signs of moisture or water damage at least every season, or four times a year. Pay special attention during heavy rainfalls or rapid snow melts, as these are times when your basement is most at risk for water intrusion.

Regular cleaning can help reduce musty smells, but if the source of moisture is not addressed, these smells will likely return. Cleaning should be part of a comprehensive approach to moisture control, including proper ventilation, dehumidification, and possibly the installation of waterproofing solutions like sump pumps or interior drainage systems.

Schedule a Free Basement Inspection With AFS

Two AFS installers placing vapor barrier onto basement wall.

If musty odors are a common issue in your home, it’s time to call the experts. AFS Foundation Repair & Waterproofing Specialists have been helping homeowners in the Southeast United States since 2000.

We’re a trusted source for basement waterproofing with over two decades of service and thousands of completed jobs. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection and get musty odors out of your home with a dry, protected basement!

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Ted Dryce

Ted Dryce

Content Writer

Ted is an SEO Content Writer who has been with Groundworks since 2021. He’s covered home repair topics ranging from crawl space encapsulation to regional soil conditions. When he’s not working, Ted is performing improv comedy and working on his own creative projects.

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