I live in south Florida and we recently had an extremely hard rain. Now, for the first time, there is a strong musty odor coming up from the crawl space through the floor. I was able to find an opening under the house and sprayed a product called Odor Ban which I bought from Home Depot. It did not eliminate all the odor and I can smell a residual smell from the product.
I read your article about Timbor and Odor Destroyer and would like your professional opinion. Thank you.
Crawl space odor can be a complicated issue but I’ll try to provide a summarized list of possible factors that can cause the problem. In general, most crawl spaces should be kept dry. When dry, odor tends to be limited and not able to permeate. But when these areas get wet or damp, odors can arise from the soil. To deal with these odors, it’s best to first try and figure out what might be causing them. Once you know the source and the frequency of the problem, a plan of action can be put in place.
The first kind of odor worth mentioning is the occasional problem that can be linked to the outside environment. If you’re located alongside a river, canal or lake, high water tables can “push” up moisture and odor through the soil. And if you’re dealing with this more than once a year, covering the exposed soil with a POLY MOISTURE BARRIER is strongly suggested. This will help limit the amount of moisture that comes inside. You may also want to install some TEMP VENTS if you don’t have good working vents in place that will allow for the proper air flow from and to the crawl space.
The second kind of odor commonly found in crawl spaces is linked to something in the soil. These odors will not be triggered by moisture but instead, they’re usually linked to the season, the temperature or some other environmental trigger. Furthermore, these odors are lodged in the soil of the space and because they’re literally inside the home, a direct treatment of the dirt is usually required to neutralize the odor. The best product for this would be the NNZ. It can be sprayed using a good PUMP SPRAYER or fogged using a FOGGING MACHINE.
The third kind of odor which can be linked to the environment would be weather related like rain or high humidity which can happen in some regions of the U.S. With this kind of odor, crawl spaces will begin to smell musty, almost moldy, following a heavy rain or humid warm season. This is usually due to some kind of mold or fungus that’s moisture dependent. The spores of this mold will be activated and released following a good rain and in some cases, can be a significant issue that needs to be treated more thoroughly compared to the first odor issue. For starters, you may need to protect the exposed wood with TIMBOR or BORACARE or BORACARE W/MOLD CARE (if you think there is already mold present). And once the wood is treated, applying the NNZ over the top would be required to get rid of the odor.
So what kind of problem do you have? I don’t have enough information to make the call on this but here are some guidelines you can use to help make a decision on what to use and how to treat. Since this is the first time you’ve had the problem, it’s quite possible you may only have it once every 2-3 years. If that’s the case, a treatment with the NNZ is all I would suggest you do for now. NNZ should quickly neutralize the odor and can be applied as needed, as much as you want and whenever you want. But if you find the odor reappearing more and more frequently (which can happen when local water tables change), you might consider doing a heavy soil treatment with the NNZ and then covering the soil with the Poly Moisture Barrier. This way the odor will stand a lot less of a chance making it’s way back inside.
Now if the problem still persists and is happening more than twice a year, I’d recommend getting some TIMBOR applied to all the exposed wood in the crawl space as well as applying the Moisture Barrier. This way the moisture that’s appearing from time to time won’t be able to start growing a mold or fungus as this would be detrimental to the structural members of the home. If you allow mold or fungus to start growing, it could damage the house. This could then lead to other problems including POWDERPOST BEETLES or TERMITES.
So in summary, my first thought is for you to apply some NNZ. I’m confident it will get rid of the odor and if this only pops up every few years, having to do the treatment from time to time won’t be too difficult and there won’t be any risk to the structural integrity of the home since the moisture isn’t showing up several times in any one year. But if the problem gets worse and worse and starts happening throughout the year over and over, no doubt some of the other products listed above will be needed. Good luck!
Here are direct links to the information and products listed above:
Poly Moisture Barrier: http://www.bugspraycart.com/equipment/temp-vents/poly-4-mil-10-x-100
Pump Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/good/pump-sprayers
Boracare with Moldcare: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/liquid/boracare-with-moldcare