What I'm Seeing Now


The Corner Of The Basement Sure Smelled Musty

When I got downstairs the corner of the basement sure smelled musty.

It had been finished with wood paneling long ago.  That paneling had been painted more than once.

Going over to the corner I got a good whiff and it sure smelled funny.


It is also the cheapest detector around.  If mold is present, moldy odors usually increase just after a rain.  And it had been raining for a couple of days.

And many noses are better than one.  That's my experience.  And everyone in the group smelled mustiness in that corner.

Breaking out Mighty Mo, as soon as he loaded up and was pointed at the corner his nose tingled too.

Sure did look moist all around there.  But thermal imaging is a little bit art and a little bit science.  If it looks wet it might not be wet.  So a moisture meter is needed in addition.

Putting it all over the corner the meter registered a consistent 80%+.

That's moist!

So the nose knows!
Mighty Mo knows!
The moisture meter knows!
And my client knows!

So what happens now?  Everyone needs to make a decision.  The seller will be informed by the home inspection report, which would include the photos and thermal images.  The buyer will create an addendum to ask for certain things to be done. 

And as regards the basement, an investigation will be asked for and a seller decision will be made on whether or not to open that can of worms.

My recommendation:  the idea is to see what we can see.  Fortunately the basement was not full of furniture.  Belongings and furniture can not only mask a smell, but can inhibit, or prevent, total investigation of something.  I have seen sellers "artfully" place things in front of known problems, like foundation cracks, so they might not be seen or investigated.  An investigation is important if it can be done.  And when it can't I will put on the report why.  Mighty Mo can see things you and I cannot.  But a thermal camera cannot see through such things as furniture or boxes.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 12 commentsJay Markanich • March 21 2016 12:51AM


 Good morning Jay Markanich . That's the problem with some of those older basements, they leak.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 4 years ago

I tell my clients that 100% of basements will leak, eventually, Michael!  And some are made to leak by what goes on outdoors.

But, the nose knows...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

That looks and smells like a real issue.  I hope the seller will take care of this.

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) over 4 years ago

Finished basements always make me pay attention.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay. I agree that the nose is the first thing to rely on and it is seldom wrong. 

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 4 years ago

I am looking into purchasing a thermal nose... that would be the bomb!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 4 years ago

I haven't seen one of these before! That would have been handy more than once or twice. My nose can find mold in a house long before an inspector :) Good post!

Posted by Mimi Foster, Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor (Falcon Property Solutions) over 4 years ago

Water has interesting ways of finding its way into homes.  My downspout extension became disconnected one summer day when it was raining rather heavily.  After two days of steady rain, my wife noticed water in the corner of the basement.  Thankfully it was an unfinished portion.  Turns out the water traveled down the foundation wall and found the sewer line were it exited the house.  Reconnecting the extension solved the problem!

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 4 years ago

WOW Cousin - neat that I can put Smellablog into my posts!  Actually it did really reek of mold.  The nose knows!

Charlie - I recommended spraying three coats of Handyman In A Can.  What do you think?  Problem solved?  Hey, if Phil Swift can float in a boat, this house can float in an underground pond!

Sheila - I say to my clients that we are a team.  Eyes, noses, etc.  The more the merrier!

Fred - let me know where!  I'm in.


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Mimster!  If you are referring to Mighty Mo, I have probably 75 thermal image posts on AR!  I have been doing thermography for 13 years.  It is the sharpest arrow in my quiver.  How have you been?  How is my favorite renovated house?

Stephen - oftentimes that is all it takes!  That solved the problem for my neighbor.  They came to me after getting a $15K estimate from a company to "fix" their basement moisture problem.  I suggested building up the soil and extending the downspout, and behold, it worked! 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Thank God we have the sense of smell that helps us to identify "danger".  Your gadgets are cool too!

Posted by Regina P. Brown, M.B.A., Broker, Instructor (MBA Broker Consultants) over 4 years ago

Sometimes man-made gadgets can be very useful, Regina.  But our God-created gadgets are the best!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

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