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How to Get Rid of Basement Odor

How to Get Rid of Basement Odor

If you’ve been in a basement before, you’re probably already familiar with that musty, mildewy smell. Maybe it’s made getting holiday decor out of storage a hassle, or prevented you from finishing your basement. But there is no reason your basement can’t smell as fresh and welcoming as the rest of your home. These quick tips from Roto-Rooter will help you address the root causes of basement odor so that you can make the basement a functional, enjoyable space in your home.

Since we’re Roto-Rooter, we’ll always recommend that you start by inspecting your basement plumbing.

Floor Drains

The easiest place to start is your floor drains. Floor drains have a u-shaped pipe underneath them called a P-trap which creates a water barrier so as to prevent drain odors, or insect issues from the adjacent sewer system.

If you smell a funny stench or odor coming from your floor drain, it's very likely your P-trap is dry. Simply pour a few gallons of water to re-establish the proper water barrier. You can add a small amount of vinegar to help remove any persistent odors.


If you don’t use basement toilets often, the water from the P-trap can evaporate just like with floor drains. Give the toilet a flush or two to remedy the problem. You’ll also want to inspect around the toilet for leaks or signs of water damage. Water damage can lead to excess humidity and mold and mildew growth, contributing to unpleasant odors.

Floor to Ceiling

Inspect all areas of the basement for signs of leaks, water damage, or mold and mildew growth. Examine walls and crawl spaces, ceilings and floors. Cracks in concrete floors or foundation walls can allow water to seep in over time, increasing humidity and possibly compromising structural integrity. You may need to consider professional waterproofing if you suspect problems with your foundation.

Water Heater

If you have a basement, chances are that your water heater is located in the basement. Check the floor around it for signs of water leaks. Water stains may be an indication that the temperature and pressure relief valve is discharging water from the tank onto your floor. If so, call Roto-Rooter to have a plumber check out your water heater.

Sump Pump

A sump system is designed to funnel water from the perimeter of your foundation into a sump pit at the lowest point in your basement. The sump pump removes the water from the pit and channels it into the storm sewer or a nearby drainage ditch. If the pump is malfunctioning, water will collect beneath the basement floor and begin to enter the basement through cracks.


Improper draining outside can contribute to groundwater leaking into your basement. Ensure that your roof gutters and downspouts are clear of debris and draining water away from the house foundation.

If you know that excess water is a problem in your basement but you can’t identify the source, the professionals at Roto-Rooter can help.

Now what?

After you’ve addressed the source of excess water in your basement, you may need to take further steps to address odors and water damage.

Increase air circulation by opening windows if possible or running fans. Dehumidifiers can be a long term solution to dealing with excess basement humidity.

Evaluate personal belongings that have been stored in the area on a case-by-case basis. Fabric or upholstered items may need to be professionally cleaned and deodorized, or simply replaced.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, call a professional water cleanup service like Roto-Rooter, to address the root cause of your basement odors and begin the water cleanup and drying process with professional grade drying and dehumidifying equipment.

Roto-Rooter’s water restoration technicians are IICRC certified. They will perform water extraction; remove unsalvageable contents, such as carpet and other flooring, drywall, paneling, shelving, cabinets; and clean the affected areas before apply disinfecting and deodorizing agents. Roto-Rooter will thoroughly dry the structure and haul away harmful and water-damaged debris.

The water damage restoration professionals at Roto-Rooter are experienced at getting your home or business back to normal as quickly as possible and Roto-Rooter is available when you need service most, 24/7/365.