Home & Garden

Newly built house weird smell

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 4th, 2019 7:25 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 12, 2011
4132 posts
424 upvotes
Niagara-on-the-Lake

Newly built house weird smell

Hi all,

I've recently moved into a newly built house (built this year) and have noticed a weird lingering musty smell that's particularly strong as you enter the house in the front hall/furnace room/laundry room area. The house is three stories, and the entrance/furnace room/laundry room is on the first floor as you enter the house. The smell is hard to describe, but it smells stale musty/dusty. Ive been in the house several months and didn't notice the smell until really a month ago when we started using the AC on a regular basis.

The smell gets on clothes and they lose their "freshness" after air drying in the laundry room. The smell isn't as noticeable on the second floor (kitchen area) or on the third floor in the bedrooms. I did notice, however, that you can smell the smell if you smell the air coming out of the air vents on the outside of the house.

Does anyone know what could be causing this? If doesn't really smell like the "new" home smell with a newly built house... Strange that it's ready only started since the AC has been in use.

We have a humidifier on our furnace that's off and in the summer position right now.
22 replies
Jr. Member
Feb 5, 2019
181 posts
156 upvotes
Is the laundry area enclosed with a door from the rest of the house? There should be a ventilation fan in the area and should be used whenever you're air drying your clothes. It could be due to excess moisture that's trapped.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 16, 2008
8293 posts
2914 upvotes
Maple
Run the fans for few days
Open doors inside overnights
Leave front and patio doors open
Leave open your washer door
Get your ducts clean
Last edited by teoconca on Aug 2nd, 2019 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Addict
Jan 15, 2017
4240 posts
3763 upvotes
Ottawa
Are there any washrooms in the house that are not being used on a daily basis? If so, run some water in the sinks and bathtubs/showers. In washrooms that are not being used every day, the water in the trap simply evaporates and sewer gas is released into the home. Turning on the water easily refills the trap and creates a barrier that prevents this.
Member
Apr 10, 2019
430 posts
862 upvotes
Ottawa
- Are you familiar with your HRV? Is it currently set to off (as it should be in the summer) to limit humidity coming in?
- If you run your furnace fan 24/7 instead of 'auto' does the smell go away after a few days?
- If your bathroom fans have kinks (they let the pipes hang out of the soffits during construction and stuff them back in later). It could be kinked or twisted in a way that it's preventing moisture from escaping.
[OP]
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 12, 2011
4132 posts
424 upvotes
Niagara-on-the-Lake
Thanks all. I run the vent in the laundry room when things are drying. The laundry room is closed off by a door from the entrance way. The furnance room can only be accessed through the laundry room via another door which is always closed too.

GrumpyOne1 wrote: - Are you familiar with your HRV? Is it currently set to off (as it should be in the summer) to limit humidity coming in?
- If you run your furnace fan 24/7 instead of 'auto' does the smell go away after a few days?
- If your bathroom fans have kinks (they let the pipes hang out of the soffits during construction and stuff them back in later). It could be kinked or twisted in a way that it's preventing moisture from escaping.
Furnace fan is always on 24/7 (not on auto) - smell seems to dissipate a bit after the AC has shut off. Not sure what the HRV is. How do I go about making sure this is off?
TomLafinsky wrote: a/c not draining properly?
How does one tell if the ac is draining properly or not? I guess I should ask - is the AC drain inside the house by the furnace or would it be outside?
[OP]
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 12, 2011
4132 posts
424 upvotes
Niagara-on-the-Lake
GrumpyOne1 wrote: - Are you familiar with your HRV? Is it currently set to off (as it should be in the summer) to limit humidity coming in?
- If you run your furnace fan 24/7 instead of 'auto' does the smell go away after a few days?
- If your bathroom fans have kinks (they let the pipes hang out of the soffits during construction and stuff them back in later). It could be kinked or twisted in a way that it's preventing moisture from escaping.
Not sure I have an HRV?
Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 14, 2010
1454 posts
892 upvotes
Barrie ON
If you have a front loading washing machine, stick your nose inside and see if the smell is there.

These machines are well known for creating a musty/sewer like smell due to the decomposing soap scum amongst other things. It took me a couple of weeks to determine the source when it first happened to me. There are special tablets added to an empty wash cycle to get rid of this smell.

You most likely notice the smell more when the AC is running, because it circulates the odor around the house.
Member
Apr 10, 2019
430 posts
862 upvotes
Ottawa
Typhoonz wrote: Not sure I have an HRV?
If your house was built after Jan 1st 2017 you have an HRV. The controller should be near your thermostat.
[OP]
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 12, 2011
4132 posts
424 upvotes
Niagara-on-the-Lake
Rick007 wrote: If you have a front loading washing machine, stick your nose inside and see if the smell is there.

These machines are well known for creating a musty/sewer like smell due to the decomposing soap scum amongst other things. It took me a couple of weeks to determine the source when it first happened to me. There are special tablets added to an empty wash cycle to get rid of this smell.

You most likely notice the smell more when the AC is running, because it circulates the odor around the house.
Have a top loader and I keep the lid open all the time when not in use :(
GrumpyOne1 wrote: If your house was built after Jan 1st 2017 you have an HRV. The controller should be near your thermostat.
Hmm, thanks. All I have next to my thermostat is a switch that says "ventilation fan". It's either on or off and all it does is turn the vent on in the upstairs bathroom.
Deal Addict
Nov 7, 2012
1188 posts
579 upvotes
TORONTO
There should be a drain nearby your HVAC.
Look for pooling water. I know my A/C has a tube that drains the condensate to a drain nearby. Sometimes the tube gets knocked out of place and pools... well in my house that is.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Feb 25, 2018
567 posts
213 upvotes
No doubt it's mold. If it is so strong to get on clothing, running a fan or HRV unit won't fix it.

This can happen with new builds, a mistake of some sort. They build and it rains things get wet and do not dry out then they are covered up. Ceramic tiles put over a wet subfloor and mold grows underneath.
If it is on the first floor, then maybe a wet basement issues.
Other things to look at are some leak from rain coming somewhere.
What can happen is that moldy materials are used when building then infect other parts of the house.
Mold needs water or moisture to grow, so you need to find the source. Run some dehumidifiers would be first order. See if that helps.
[OP]
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 12, 2011
4132 posts
424 upvotes
Niagara-on-the-Lake
DaveVentura wrote: No doubt it's mold. If it is so strong to get on clothing, running a fan or HRV unit won't fix it.

This can happen with new builds, a mistake of some sort. They build and it rains things get wet and do not dry out then they are covered up. Ceramic tiles put over a wet subfloor and mold grows underneath.
If it is on the first floor, then maybe a wet basement issues.
Other things to look at are some leak from rain coming somewhere.
What can happen is that moldy materials are used when building then infect other parts of the house.
Mold needs water or moisture to grow, so you need to find the source. Run some dehumidifiers would be first order. See if that helps.
I really hope it's not mold. I can't see any visible signs of moisture anywhere. The entire downstairs where the smell is coming from is all ceramic tile.

I was hoping it would just be the materials in the walls drying out, etc. Sigh. Hope it isn't a bigger deal than it needs to be. Not sure how to find these things if I can't see anything. Would I have to call in a professional or something to diagnose the smell/find the source?
Sr. Member
User avatar
Feb 25, 2018
567 posts
213 upvotes
Typhoonz wrote: I really hope it's not mold. I can't see any visible signs of moisture anywhere. The entire downstairs where the smell is coming from is all ceramic tile.

I was hoping it would just be the materials in the walls drying out, etc. Sigh. Hope it isn't a bigger deal than it needs to be. Not sure how to find these things if I can't see anything. Would I have to call in a professional or something to diagnose the smell/find the source?
So it's coming from the basement. You have a wet basement. In the summer it rains so it becomes worse. First thing is get dehumidifier and see if that solves the problem. Mold is not dangerous, it is just annoying if you have allergies.

You can check your down spouts and run off around your house, make sure your eaves troughs are working, that can often fix the problem. Also the grading of the soil around your house should slop away.

Mold is either on something, in something or behind something. In this case probably under your tiles. That is why you can't see it.
You can remove the tiles and clean the mold from the subfloor. Then put something like vinyl roll that can easily be taken up and cleaned under neath every year. Or just leave it empty and paint the floor.

In the long term you can think of excavating and water proofing the exterior foundations of the house for a more permanent fix. Hopefully it is not affected the frame in the basement, i assume you have a finished basement. Your insurance company probably covers this or the new home warranty.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 19, 2008
6814 posts
2357 upvotes
GTA
skeet50 wrote: Are there any washrooms in the house that are not being used on a daily basis? If so, run some water in the sinks and bathtubs/showers. In washrooms that are not being used every day, the water in the trap simply evaporates and sewer gas is released into the home. Turning on the water easily refills the trap and creates a barrier that prevents this.
Thinking along those lines....might be a dry P trap on basement drain. OP, pour water into basement floor drains and laundry sink if you have one. Seen both those traps dry a few times causing issues....homeowner uses the laundry room sink for storage and has a mystery smell.
[OP]
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 12, 2011
4132 posts
424 upvotes
Niagara-on-the-Lake
DaveVentura wrote: So it's coming from the basement. You have a wet basement. In the summer it rains so it becomes worse. First thing is get dehumidifier and see if that solves the problem. Mold is not dangerous, it is just annoying if you have allergies.

You can check your down spouts and run off around your house, make sure your eaves troughs are working, that can often fix the problem. Also the grading of the soil around your house should slop away.

Mold is either on something, in something or behind something. In this case probably under your tiles. That is why you can't see it.
You can remove the tiles and clean the mold from the subfloor. Then put something like vinyl roll that can easily be taken up and cleaned under neath every year. Or just leave it empty and paint the floor.

In the long term you can think of excavating and water proofing the exterior foundations of the house for a more permanent fix. Hopefully it is not affected the frame in the basement, i assume you have a finished basement. Your insurance company probably covers this or the new home warranty.
Should have clarified, we don't have a basement. The bottom floor of the house is all we have (which is where the laundry, furnance room, front entrance is. So maybe its coming up from the ground directly because it's been so wet?
Zamboni wrote: Thinking along those lines....might be a dry P trap on basement drain. OP, pour water into basement floor drains and laundry sink if you have one. Seen both those traps dry a few times causing issues....homeowner uses the laundry room sink for storage and has a mystery smell.
We use all the washrooms, but maybe not the laundry sink as much. I'll be sure to run that for a bit to get it draining.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 1, 2001
1084 posts
414 upvotes
Toronto
I hate these front loaders. How do I get rid if smell? I use affresh. I leave door open after laundry
Deal Addict
Mar 3, 2018
2175 posts
2193 upvotes
GTA
ranjeet2000 wrote: I hate these front loaders. How do I get rid if smell? I use affresh. I leave door open after laundry
Don’t use liquid detergent. Use Tide or Costco pods putting them directly in the washer drum.
Member
Jun 23, 2019
389 posts
230 upvotes
You run the furnace fan 24/7 but the smell only comes when the a/c is running? That sounds to me like the drain from the a/c might be partially clogged/restricted causing water to back up. I've also heard running the fan 24/7 in the summer is bad because it puts moisture from the evaporator back in the air when the a/c isn't running.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Feb 25, 2018
567 posts
213 upvotes
Typhoonz wrote: Should have clarified, we don't have a basement. The bottom floor of the house is all we have (which is where the laundry, furnance room, front entrance is. So maybe its coming up from the ground directly because it's been so wet?
You have a slab foundation which is very uncommon in Canada for the reason you illustrated, they can flood.
A slab foundation should have a vapour barrier under neath to prevent moisture for entering the slab. I believe it is code, not sure. You are in Niagara? The smell would not be from the ground. What happens is that the slab gets wet and their is space between the tiles and sub floor where mold grows, you get mold under all the tiles of the house. I've seen it many times.

The vapour barrier should go all the way up the side of the exterior of the house.
You can post some pictures of the exterior of the house and foundations and can take a look. Maybe it is run off or grading issue and the water is running in at the ground level.
At any rate, i would call your insurance, also talk to a lawyer about suing the builder if they didn't water proof the slab foundations. It is not something that you can fix. You might start by calling the builder and asking them.

Top