Musty smell in a bedroom

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BrianMc
Posts: 124
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:03 am

Musty smell in a bedroom

Post by BrianMc » Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:18 am

DW and I recently had our house re-sided. This was an entire siding tear off of a home built in 1978 (think the Tudor look although it wasn't a real tudor). The previous main siding boards were painted masonry-type boards with cedar board trim. During the removal of the old siding, rot was discovered under a bedroom window. The contractor attributed the rot to an improperly sealed window (the windows were replaced 7 years ago) and water caused the rot. During the warmer months, there was often a musty smell in the bedroom (which disappeared in the cooler/colder months) and we were never able to locate the cause.

The siding contractor replaced rotting studs, replaced the affected insulation, and cleaned the area "as best he could." He did show us the photos and the "after" looked much better. The entire house was wrapped and the new siding was then installed. Shortly thereafter, we had an unusually warm spell and the musty smell returned. Now knowing where the rot had occurred, I removed the interior window casing and pulled off a piece of drywall under the window. The drywall actually smelled musty and I noted the vapor barrier wasn't taped around the windows.

I had drywall company #1 come provide an estimate to take down the two walls that face the exterior so that we could get a good look at the interior and have an air quality test performed. To remove and replace two walls and replace the insulation (one 15' long, the other 13' long), he wanted $3K...and that didn't include the air quality test!

Upon getting a second referral, drywall company #2 stopped by, pulled off a piece of drywall and found zero mold. The second company recommended just removing the drywall under the window to take a look and possibly replacing some insulation (to start). Company 2's estimate was much more reasonable.

Personally, I think completely removing both walls and getting the air quality test would give us peace of mind. Based on what they saw, Drywall company 2 thinks it's overkill and they could treat anything suspicious looking with "Shockwave," replace the drywall, and call it good.

Thoughts? Thanks. -Brian

carolinaman
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Location: North Carolina

Re: Musty smell in a bedroom

Post by carolinaman » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:57 am

Are you sure this is the source of the musty smell? Do you have a crawl space? I ask because musty smell can also come from poorly ventilated crawl space, especially with the conditions you cited.

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lthenderson
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Re: Musty smell in a bedroom

Post by lthenderson » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:06 am

You never mentioned if the improperly sealed window was properly sealed so that it wasn't leaking anymore but I'll assume that is the case.

You can get that musty smell absorbed into drywall. In my current house I discovered as we were moving in that the kitchen sink was leaking and dripping into the wall cavity in a downstairs office. I fixed the leak but the office always had a musty smell, especially in the summer time when there was more humidity in the air. After a couple years, I was able to remodel that office and removed the drywall. I expected lots of mold but didn't find any. When I put new drywall up (I reused the same studs but did put in new insulation), the smell instantly went away. Later when I was hauling the drywall to the dump, I could still get faint whiffs of that musty smell. I think the odor was just absorbed by the drywall.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Musty smell in a bedroom

Post by WhyNotUs » Fri Oct 06, 2017 6:30 pm

You might start by either renting a moisture meter from a tool rental company or hire the diagnosis person from a flood recovery company with one. I would try to get very certain on the location of the moisture before I started paying people to remove drywall. Your previous experience with the water damage around the window may be leading you to the culprit or on a wild goose chase.

You have a little more homework to do first.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

BrianMc
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Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:03 am

Re: Musty smell in a bedroom

Post by BrianMc » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:42 am

carolinaman wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:57 am
Are you sure this is the source of the musty smell? Do you have a crawl space? I ask because musty smell can also come from poorly ventilated crawl space, especially with the conditions you cited.
I'm unsure of the source, hoping that it was just the siding and that the smell was absorbed by the drywall and insulation.
lthenderson wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:06 am
You never mentioned if the improperly sealed window was properly sealed so that it wasn't leaking anymore but I'll assume that is the case.

You can get that musty smell absorbed into drywall. In my current house I discovered as we were moving in that the kitchen sink was leaking and dripping into the wall cavity in a downstairs office. I fixed the leak but the office always had a musty smell, especially in the summer time when there was more humidity in the air. After a couple years, I was able to remodel that office and removed the drywall. I expected lots of mold but didn't find any. When I put new drywall up (I reused the same studs but did put in new insulation), the smell instantly went away. Later when I was hauling the drywall to the dump, I could still get faint whiffs of that musty smell. I think the odor was just absorbed by the drywall.
Yes, the siding company fixed everything around the window and sealed it.

I'm hoping what you experienced is what we're dealing with...that is my theory with what we've seen thus far.

Thanks for the replies.

BrianMc
Posts: 124
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:03 am

Re: Musty smell in a bedroom

Post by BrianMc » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:46 am

WhyNotUs wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 6:30 pm
You might start by either renting a moisture meter from a tool rental company or hire the diagnosis person from a flood recovery company with one. I would try to get very certain on the location of the moisture before I started paying people to remove drywall. Your previous experience with the water damage around the window may be leading you to the culprit or on a wild goose chase.

You have a little more homework to do first.
Great point. Actually, we had a pipe in the basement burst a few months ago and I had the company's owner check out the window from the inside. He used his moisture meter around the affected window/wall (from inside the bedroom) and didn't pinpoint anything. However, I think it's possible the vapor barrier may have been together than it is now.

Mrxyz
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Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:12 am

Re: Musty smell in a bedroom

Post by Mrxyz » Sat Oct 07, 2017 5:09 pm

Vapor barrier may be a problem if installed incorrectly. Each situation is different based on how and where the barrier is installed.

Please read this wonderful website ;

https://buildingscience.com/documents/d ... r-barriers

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