We’ve recently moved into a single family home rental. Previous tenants had many plug in air fresheners and as that smell cleared out we have been left with a mildew/musty smell that penetrates the whole house. It gets into our clothes and hair and other people can smell it on us when outside the house. We have checked many things and keep coming up empty handed…here is a lengthy breakdown of all the things that have been done and general information. We live in central Florida. In a 1,700 sq ft house. My self, husband and toddler live in the home.
Previous owners had not cleared water line so that every time ac kicked out water pooled out into the garage (where the HVAC is located). They had the air filter in backwards and upside down. AC vents and return vents were covered in thick dust, including the ceiling fas. We addressed those issues. Had an AC company come out and check the unit. They said the coils were clean, the system was sealed properly, plenty of insulation in attic space. They didn’t see any issues. We cleared the water line with bleach, changed the filter (level 10) and opened all doors and windows for 45 minutes (several times) to push that air out and bring fresh air into circulation. This has not solved the smell issue.
We hired a mold detection company to come out. He assessed the property. We have no visible areas of mold. He took 2 air samples. Our house moisture level came in at 48% and air samples came back negative. Actually fairly low mold levels. He recommend concrobium mold spray and if we still have an issues an ozone generator. We purchased the spray, took off all vents sprayed them, sprayed windows and door areas. This has not solved the smell issue.
We eventually purchased the ozone generator. We have run it 4x for maximum 3 hrs at a time. This does seem to help initially. The smell eventually returns after 2-3 days.
Our first water bill seemed high ($140 for water and sewer). I took note of water meter before leaving the house empty for 6 hours. At 8:53am when I left the meter read 1075 7715. I read the meter again at 3:17 and it read 1075 7904. We have two toilets that run occasionally for 7-10 seconds at a time. Our water line at the fridge also runs (although it may be the ice machine filling) and the water line jumps on its own. We hired Leak Dr’s - they walked around the house with sensitive equipment and found no leak inside the house. He did say the water bill seemed high and couldn’t explain the increase in water meter. He suggested a faulty meter and to reach out to the county.
County came out to take a look. Meter is fine. They found no leaks in irrigation. We have 5 sprinkler zones that we run once a week for 20 minutes a zone.
Today we experienced rain while I was home and noticed our downspouts empties out right next to the house. There is no downspout extender. We have 3 downspouts that empty right into the ground. The one at the corner of my sons room empties right into a dirt patch (previous tenant used it has a garden). The water comes down so strong that it pools right at the house. Deep enough that the water is up to my wrist - This also creates holes in the ground by the down spouts. My new thought is could this be getting into the foundation, causing damage and thus creating the smell? I went out a purchased a moisture reader with prongs and began tested our walls. The majority of the walls come in anywhere from 7-15%. In my sons room I was able to find an area (the corner near the downspout) that came in at 20%. There is no visible damage. The walls dont feel soft and crumbly. I also bought downspout extenders to move the water away from the house.
Could this downspout issue be the source? Any other things/areas we should consider looking into? Building materials? Our home was built in early 2000’s so we’ve though about Chinese Drywall but it is not a sulfur smell and no appliances are faulty. We’re seriously at a loss and I feel slightly crazy because the smell persists and we can’t find the source. I’m getting lots of push back from the property manager because everything I suggest checking out keeps coming up empty handed. Please help!!
I really appreciate you taking the time to read all of this and help us solve this unsolved mystery. Thank you!