What is That Smell?

Sometimes, it hits after a big rain. Other times, it seems to waft up from nowhere and you just shrug it off.

But if your house smells musty, it’s possible there’s a mold outbreak nearby.

A mold smell in the house is sometimes described as similar to wet cardboard or a wet rug.

It can also have an earthy scent. You might even associate the smell with old houses.


Hopefully, that smell you detect is just a little ordinary mustiness – because a mold infestation, on the other hand, can be toxic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that mold exposure can cause everything from a stuffy nose or eye irritation to serious infection.

Use this guide from ServiceMaster Restore® to see if your house smells musty because of dangerous mold.


What Causes a Mold Smell in Your House?

Usually, if it smells like mold, it is mold. Mold or mildew odors are both due to the presence of fungi in the air, in pipes, inside walls or hidden in other parts of your home.

Mold is thicker than mildew, so if the smell is particularly strong, that’s a clue that it’s mold and you need to act fast to prevent further growth.


In some instances, mold growth can be due to the weather.

A few rainy days in a row can make houses smell musty, but if the smell continues well after the rain is done, it’s time to get a mold inspection.

In other cases, a burst pipe or faulty appliance can cause flooding that leads to hazardous mold growth if not promptly cleaned up. In any event, the key to remember is that where there’s water, there can be mold.


How Can You Prevent a Musty House Smell?

As the Environmental Protection Agency points out, the best way to control mold is to prevent it. Follow these tips to ensure a musty house smell doesn’t disrupt your enjoyment of your home:

  1. Avoid moisture.

Don’t let floors and other surfaces stay damp after spills or showers. Standing water and condensation can eventually lead to mold growth. If you live in a humid climate, take steps to dehumidify your home.

  1. Fix leaks.

Leaky pipes can be a prime mold catalyst. Water pools behind walls or under cabinets and then, before you know it, you’ve got a mold problem. Check for leaks frequently and repair them immediately.

  1. Tidy up.

It’s hard to believe that you might get a case of mold from skipping housework, but it’s a real possibility. Empty wastebaskets, wipe down your fridge, throw out old produce, vacuum carpets and keep air conditioners clean. Mold can easily grow in these spots.

  1. Take floods seriously.

If you think it might flood, take the steps to protect your home. Level your property for run-off, install and test a sump pump, and if a flood does hit, get a mold inspection afterwards.


Our professionals are available 24/7/365 to help you get your home safe, healthy and comfortable again. Our mold detection and removal services are only a phone call away at 949-537-1005.

If it turns out that water has created mold in your home, contact the experts at ServiceMaster Restore®.

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