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How to remove musty smells after water damage 1

Remove Musty Smells After Water Damage

How to remove musty smells after water damage 1


Many property owners who have experienced water damage from flooding have learned that even after the water has been removed and the property dried, numerous challenges can remain. One of the most common is a persistent musty smell that lingers and permeates their living spaces. These musty and mildewy smells may be suggestive of a hidden danger lurking in the shadows, needing to be addressed. Hidden mold growth on drywall could be discovered by an inspector and kill a sale. This is why flood damage can affect the value of your home, and why mildew smells could be telling you something. Knowing how to remove musty smells after water damage can avert the more serious issue of mold growth which is a nightmare that can be avoided.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons lingering musty odors exist after water damage and provide insights into how to effectively deal with them. In some instances, you will need a professional restoration company as your ally, because they alone will have the necessary equipment and chemicals to eliminate the problem. In other cases, a do-it-yourself approach can suffice and tackle musty smells after water damage.


Water damage in a home or business can produce mildew and musty odors when long term moisture exposure prevails on vulnerable materials such as cellulose and wood. If mold begins to develop due to excessive moisture the waste product it leaves behind is consumed by bacteria. This chemical interaction creates a form of ammonia, that in turn produces a conspicuous musty odor.

Understanding why Musty Smells after Water Damage Manifest

Musty odors in your home often indicate a former water damage issue may have not been fully resolved. It may mean there still exist moisture, mold growth and other dangers needing to be tended to before musty smells can be eliminated. If there are airborne mold spores that are settling on moist or wet building materials they will release into the air mycotoxins, which have that distinct musty smell no one favors. It is not recommended to ignore any lingering musty smell after water damage as it can be the needed alarm to find and remedy mold damage and respiratory issues in your home.

If you have had water damage from flooding that has affected materials in your home such as carpets, flooring, drywall, and wood trim, it may be difficult to remove musty smells after water damage. Excess water can cause problems in homes when it becomes absorbed into various materials where it can cause permanent damage and mold growth. 



Water damage always begins from the bottom up and having water violate either the carpet or padding can allow for days of elevated moisture and mold growth. Musty smells after water damage from carpet is very common and often trapped moisture can remain in pad when carpets feel hand dry. The musty smell and mildew odor that off gases into the air from carpet is very offensive, leaving some to believe it is permanent. This is not always true as there are safe chemicals that professional restoration companies like Action Extraction of Macomb employ that are effective at breathing new life into musty smelling carpets.


Mold and mildew tend to grow in dark, confined, and moist spaces making drywall an ideal material for the mold growth and mildew problem. When drywall becomes wet it is wet on the surface you see as well as the hidden back side that is in a dark, confined space. Add the fact that wall cavities are spaces absent of UV lighting, and you have an ideal environment for mold growth. Wet drywall needs to be addressed and dried quickly to eliminate the potential for mold growth. If you have a musty smell after water damage, drywall may be the culprit. In situations where drywall lingered wet for more than 3-5 days it is better to remove wet drywall during flood cleanup than to dry it.


If you have experienced water damage in your home that has affected your carpet, drywall, and flooring materials and left a musty smell, you may consider contacting the professionals at Action Extraction of Macomb for a free evaluation of your home. If you feel like grappling with the issue as a noble homeowner first, here are some instructions to follow that may bring relief to musty smells after water damage.



The best way to get rid of mildew and musty smells after water damage is to eliminate it at its source. This will take a visual and sense of smell investigation. Carefully evaluate the areas that were first affected by water damage or flooding. Look for signs of staining on building materials that were affected. If carpet is involved attempting to locate the area offending can sometimes be achieved by the sense of smell. This may require a get on your hands and knees exercise to locate, and once discovered may even require a lifting of the carpet to expose the pad for evaluation if pad exists. If obvious odors are coming from a particular area in your home, it is likely they stem from causes related to mildew, mold, dampness, or the presence of organic elements. Once the area is pinpointed your solution can be precisely directed to where the source resides.


Once you address the location you can proceed to remove musty smells with cleaning. If the musty smell is emanating from furniture, or carpets have them professionally steam cleaned and disinfected with a plant-based antimicrobial agent and dried quickly with a fan. Professionals will pretreat with specialty agents that are designed to completely remove mildew odors. The added benefit of removing soil, grime and dirt particulates will breathe new life into old fabrics. If the furniture tag indicates it is not safe for washing, then a good dry-cleaning service will accomplish the same desired result.


When mildew or mold is discovered, it is indicative of an ongoing moisture issue that is elevating humidity. Once the reason for these conditions is known it is important to create circumstances that preclude them from happening in the future. Sometimes this means basement waterproofing, adding insulation, having an exhaust fan added to a kitchen or bath and even acquiring a dehumidifier to manage high humidity areas.


The generation of the 50s were well versed in the benefits of adding baking soda for its natural tendency to absorb bad odors. Baking soda naturally assaults the molecule responsible for mildew smells. Removing musty smells by reconfiguring molecular patterns will chemically change the structure of the odor molecule into one that smells pleasant not offensive. This common household item placed in a bowl and left out will neutralize not only mildew and mold smells but also odors from foods. This is why for decades it has been a routine practice to place a bowl of baking soda in the refrigerators to absorb and neutralize bad food smell. Changing it every 2 weeks will keep almost any environment fresh and pleasant smelling.

Hiring a Professional to Remove Musty Smells After Water Damage

Water damage accounts for more property claims than any other property hazard. The resulting damage often left to linger is mildew, mold, materials compromise, and a host of other related troubles. If you want to cut to the chase so to speak and eliminate musty smells overnight, consider contacting the professionals. The contractors that are skilled and highly efficient and even certified in this unique service are not handyman and carpet cleaners. The industry that specializes in servicing everything related to water damage is a flood restoration company.

Be sure they are certified by the IICRC (Institute for Inspection, Cleaning, Restoration Certification) and you should be in the hands of a company well suited to treating and removing musty smells. Action Extraction Flood Restoration Experts of Macomb specialize in managing all things related to water damage and offer free evaluations. They have the resources, equipment and highly skilled team to remedy and forever remove musty smells after water damage.

Action Extraction Water Damage Restoration has tailored services to protect and treat your valued property. If you live in Macomb, Shelby Twp, Clinton Twp. Sterling Heights, or any community in Southeast Michigan, we can help! We can remove musty smells after water damage using all-natural plant-based solutions that are toddler safe and highly effective. Our germ elimination agents are EPA registered and kill 99.99999% of harmful bacteria, viruses, mold, spores, germs, fungi, and all associated odors.

CHECK OUT OUR ARTICLE ON: Protecting your valuables during a basement flood.

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