Your basement stinks! Unfortunately, many homeowners face this problem whether they put the money into finishing it or not. Foul odors such as must, rotten eggs or garbage can make it difficult for you to enjoy being in the space for any length of time. By installing an effective basement air system, you'll increase your enjoyment of the space and protect your overall health.

What a stunt !
credit: marcduf/iStock/Getty Images
Protect your family from harmful pollutants such as dust, mold and sewer gases.

Basement Smells

If your basement smells, determine and fix the cause of odor before choosing an air system. Bad basement smells can stem from a variety of sources, ranging from low-cost easy fixes to more expensive problems. A musty smell may be rooted in high humidity or a water leak fostering mildew and mold. Rotten eggs or garbage smells may be sewer gas or waste seeping into the space. A floor drain, laundry tub or wash basin's may be the source. Repair the issue, then consider what basement air system will best suit you.

Air Filters

Furnace or HVAC Filter Clogged With Dust and Allergens
credit: Roel Smart/iStock/Getty Images
Changing furnace and return air filters is crucial to the proper performance of your HVAC system, not to mention your home's air quality.

Once you have discovered and fixed the source of the stinky basement, add some fresh air. The fact of the matter is that a basement will always be a bit stuffy. You can install an air system that will improve indoor air quality, dilute indoor pollutants, and push stale indoor air out of your home. The simplest and cheapest solution is to change the air filter in your furnace during the start of the heating and cooling seasons -- the dust cake from the previous year is a spot for mold to grow.


Portable dehumidifier, front view
credit: Gary Ombler/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images
Standard stand-alone dehumidifiers typically cost $150 to $300, while top-efficiency models cost over $1,000.

Another simple solution to adding fresh air to your basement is to place a dehumidifier in a central location. A good one will not only eliminate that stuffy basement feeling; but it also will reduce humidity: Those musty smells, the wet stains on walls and ceilings, and rotting wood condensation on windows limiting the growth of mold and mildew. It works by removing moisture by condensing water vapor out of the air like an air conditioner. But it only removes moisture rather than cool air and is better at that function than an air conditioner. A dehumidifier ranges widely in cost, depending on the size and its capacity. The problem is that a dehumidifier is not energy efficient and uses more than 600 watts of energy while it's operating.

Energy Recovery Ventilators

Cool air
credit: RonFullHD/iStock/Getty Images
An ERV can cost over $4,000, including ductwork, fittings, registers, labor, and markup.

The best but most expensive option is to install an energy recovery ventilator or ERV, which has the lowest operating cost. An ERV possesses the same capabilities as a heat recovery ventilator, but takes greater advantage of the full spectrum of energy contained within the airflow. The purpose of an ERV is to deliver fresh air to a home's interior. An ERV allows some of the moisture in the air stream, usually the stale air in winter and the fresh air in summer, to be transferred to the air stream which is dryer. According to the U.S. Building Council, you should select a system that has a HEPA filter, or a high MERV filter that is a minimum MERV of 10 or higher.