Water damage can cause a nasty smell in your home. You might wonder, "Does water damage smell go away?" or "Can water damage cause a smell?" The answer to both is yes. But don't worry, we'll teach you how to remove these odors, whether it's your whole house that stinks after a flood, or just your carpet or basement. We'll cover both do-it-yourself (DIY) and professional solutions.
Causes of Bad Odor from Water Damage
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are fungi that thrive in damp environments. When water damage occurs, it creates the perfect conditions for these organisms to grow. As they spread, they produce a musty, unpleasant odor.
Standing water, especially from sewage or flood water, can contain harmful bacteria. When left unattended, these bacteria multiply and emit a foul smell.
Water can cause materials like wood, drywall, and fabric to rot if they remain wet for too long. This rotting process produces a strong, offensive odor.
Water that doesn't move or dry up can start to smell. This is often due to bacteria and other microorganisms growing in the stagnant water.
Damaged or Wet Insulation
Insulation in walls or attics can absorb water and become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. This can cause a persistent smell that is difficult to remove because it's hidden inside the walls or ceiling.
Ventilation and Drying Out
The first step in addressing water damage is drying out the area. This is essential because moisture promotes the growth of mold and mildew which are the primary causes of the unpleasant smell.
- Open all windows and doors to allow natural ventilation. This will let the fresh air in and the musty air out.
- Use fans to circulate the air and speed up the drying process. Place them in a way that the air moves towards open windows or doors.
- If the humidity levels are high, use a dehumidifier. This device will pull excess moisture from the air and help speed up the drying process.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Once the area is dry, you'll need to clean and disinfect to kill any mold, mildew, or bacteria causing the smell.
For hard surfaces like walls, floors, or furniture, make a cleaning solution with 1 cup of household bleach and a gallon of water. Use a scrub brush to clean the surfaces thoroughly. Rinse with clean water and allow to dry. Be careful when using bleach: always wear gloves, a mask, and protective eyewear. Ensure the area is well-ventilated.
For soft items like carpets, rugs, or upholstery, the cleaning process is a bit different. Use a carpet cleaning machine with a solution specifically designed for pet odors or organic stains. These solutions contain enzymes that break down the odor-causing bacteria. After cleaning, allow the carpet or rug to dry completely.
Deodorizing with Baking Soda
Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can absorb unpleasant smells.
- Lightly sprinkle baking soda over affected areas, including carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture.
- Allow the baking soda to sit for a few hours, or even overnight if possible. The baking soda will absorb the odors during this time.
- Vacuum the baking soda up, making sure to get all of it. You should notice a fresher smell in the area.
If the smell persists or the damage is too big to handle on your own, it's time to call in the professionals. They have special equipment and products to remove water, clean and disinfect your home, and get rid of any smells.
Professionals can also make sure the water damage hasn't caused structural problems in your home. They can check for mold inside walls or under floors, which could be causing the smell.