Pay attention to basement smells - they can make you sick.
This is a renter who wants to purchase the house they have been living in for a while.
I always ask if there are issues with the house they have noticed while living there.
Yes, there was one in this house.
Sometimes the basement smells so bad they get sick, and can't use it.
Looking around there was a small room off the furnace room.
It had been closed off with a curtain and was used as a store room.
The space was originally located there to be a bathroom, if/when one was installed.
I knew that meant there would be drain lines in the floor, plumbing which could be used when the bathroom was completed.
Moving around boxes I found an uncapped access port to a drain line. While it had been previously capped with wonderful duct tape, it was not exactly sealed.
This would open to the sanitary sewer, where everything goes.
You know what that means.
Question -- So why the smell sometimes and not others?
Answer -- When the plumbing is used the volume of the waste water displaces air in the drain lines.
All plumbing should have vented openings, usually through the roof. Those vents are there to expel sewer gas into the air, higher than it can be smelled.
But if there is an uncapped location inside the house, air will be expelled there also. And if the plumbing is used, say the dishwasher after dinner, and someone is near this uncapped location in the storage room, perhaps watching a movie, as the drain fills with waste water and air is displaced, that person will probably get the full benefit of the experience if nearby. And the basement could generally smell awful!
Sewer gas is not exactly healthful air!
The great mystery is solved. Gluing a solid cap onto that tube, as the builder should have done years ago, will permanently seal the opening until it is used for a bathroom.
My recommendation: this renter was smart to have a home inspection before buying this property. Often there are problems renters know about. But even living in a house there can be unseen issues that might only be found by someone with experience. That someone would be a home inspector! Call one! You'll be happy you did. And maybe healthier.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560