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warm humid air enters crawl space vents

Musty Odors in Home

No one wants their home to smell bad, but that’s exactly what happens when moisture gets into your crawl space. Here’s what you need to know.

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Crawl spaces are prone to moisture damage from many different sources. Rain, humid air outside, or leaking pipes can all cause water to get trapped below your home. Over time, this moisture leads to musty odors in your home. Not only does this make your living space uncomfortable, but it could also have a negative effect on your health. Tar Heel has crawl space solutions designed to prevent this issue from happening, so read on to learn more about this problem sign. 

What Causes Musty Odors?


Mold is one of the primary culprits of musty odors in your home. When moisture gets into your crawl space, it breaks down organic materials and causes humidity levels to rise – both of these are needed for mold to thrive. Eventually, mold and mildew will grow on any surface they can find in your crawl space until they release spores into the air. These spores travel up into your living space, and may create a musty, damp smell throughout your house. Not to mention, the spores could cause respiratory issues for anyone living in your home. If you smell musty odors in your home, check for mold immediately.

stack effect rendering

The Stack Effect

The Stack Effect doesn’t directly contribute to musty odors in your home, but it does transport them throughout your living space. That’s because this phenomenon occurs when warm air rises from your crawl space. Crawl spaces are usually exposed to the outside environment with open wall vents and dirt floors. Any contaminants or odors in these outdoor conditions will be swept up into your home as a result of the stack effect. While you can’t control the stack effect, you can control the quality of the air that is being moved into your home with vapor barriers or dehumidifiers. Without these tools, musty odors have easy access to your home.

crawl space pests


Humidity in your crawl space attracts all kinds of animals. Firstly, your crawl space provides shelter from weather and predators. Secondly, humid air creates a warm environment for insects, rodents, and other animals to rest or feed in. Lastly, animals in your crawl space leave behind waste such as feces, carcasses, or urine below your home. Pretty much any activity that wild animals take part in is going to smell to some degree, and if those activities take place below your home, musty odors are likely to make their way into your house.


Mold’s main function is to break down organic material in order to continue multiplying. For that reason, mold spores are quite dangerous to humans. If you breathe in mold spores, they could cause damage to your lungs. Even worse, mold spores could latch onto skin, clothing, and more which only increases its chance to grow. Eventually, mold in your crawl space could break out into a full-blown infestation throughout your entire house.

First, hire a professional to check for mold or animal waste in your crawl space. You don’t want to be the one down there, especially without the right protective gear. Next, invest in professional crawl space encapsulation. This includes a vapor barrier, dehumidifier, sump pump, and vent covers that defend against all forms of moisture in your crawl space to keep it permanently dry. Don’t attempt to install any of these with a DIY project, as you could cause more damage to your crawl space. Additionally, don’t just use sprays to cover up musty odors, as this doesn’t solve the actual issue.

Sometimes, musty odors might not be associated with health-hazards like mold or pests, but that doesn’t mean the smells aren’t a serious problem. Musty odors usually occur with any sort of moisture-damage. If you smell anything in your home, don’t ignore it. Moisture in your crawl space could lead to wood rot or damaged insulation – both of which can greatly damage your home and reduce its efficiency. Any crawl space problem signs should be taken seriously and solved as soon as possible.

Call Tar Heel for a Free Inspection

Musty odors can be a danger to you and your loved ones, and they can lead to more extensive crawl space problems. Tar Heel has the tools and experience to repair your crawl space. Since 2003, we’ve been providing crawl space repair for homeowners across the state of North Carolina in Northern North Carolina, the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill metro area, Wilmington, and the Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point metro area.  

With thousands of positive online reviews and recent awards from Home Advisor and the Better Business Bureau, our commitment to honest and quality business is proven. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection with one of our specialists! 

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Fayetteville Location

3400 Walsh Pky, Suite 220
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Greensboro Location

611 Summit Ave, Suite 5
Greensboro, NC 27405

Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill Location

3333 Air Park Road
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

Wilmington Location

1209 Culbreth Dr., Ste 205
Wilmington, NC 28405

Winston-salem / High Point Location

2910 Griffith Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27103