When summer weather becomes sweltering and sticky, your natural inclination is to stay indoors to enjoy the air conditioning and escape the sun. Your house can provide relief from the intense heat and humidity but being inside during the summer months isn’t always pleasant. That’s because many homes develop a musty smell in summer weather. Many things can contribute to summer smells from opening doors and windows to moisture buildup. Understanding the answer to the question “why does my house smell in the summer?” can help you determine the best way to solve the problem and freshen the air in your home.
The Science Behind Household Summer Odors
The reasons why you notice a musty smell in summer weather are complex. Many factors contribute to summer smells. However, the weather outside is the main factor.
Even with air conditioning, air is hotter and moister during the summer. The increased moisture in the air can encourage the growth of odor-causing microorganisms like mold, mildew and bacteria. As these microorganisms grow, they give off volatile organic compounds or VOCs, and these gases have an unpleasant smell.
Microorganisms likely aren’t the only reason why a house smells musty in summer weather. Bad smells can also come from other things in your home. Pet, cooking and bathroom odors may also be more intense during the summer months. There are two main reasons why this happens. The first one is what happens to air on a molecular level when it heats up. Molecules of oxygen, nitrogen, water, carbon dioxide and other substances found in the air move at a faster rate and spread further apart at higher temperatures. This creates more space for the molecules that cause bad odors. In other words, warmer air can hold more bad, smell-causing stuff than colder air.
Hot air also impacts odor-causing molecules differently than a cooler environment. When molecules heat up, they eventually reach their gaseous form. This means that anything capable of emitting stinky VOCs is more likely to do so at higher temperatures.
On top of all that, many people keep their homes closed up in the summer. When you’re running the air conditioner, the last thing you want to do is open a door or a window and cause the appliance to work harder. Unfortunately, the lack of fresh air means that dense humid air filled with VOCs lingers inside the house. That’s why you may find that you smell your homemade curry or garlicky pasta in the kitchen for days after a home-cooked summer meal.
Is the Summer Musty Smell Toxic?
Whether or not you need to worry about the health effects of a musty smell in summer weather depends on the cause of the smell. Most bacteria that contribute to summer smells aren’t harmful for humans to breathe in. However, mold and mildew can cause symptoms like watery eyes, runny nose, itching, coughing, wheezing, headaches and fatigue. Some strains can even cause serious health problems like life-threatening infections.
If you discover mold or believe mold may be the reason why your entire home or basement smells in summer weather, contact a mold remediation expert. Once mold begins to grow, it can be very difficult to fully eliminate using DIY techniques. It’s best to leave the job up to the pros to protect the health of your family and pets.
The Location and Room Make a Difference
Where you’re noticing a musty smell in summer weather can provide clues to the cause of the problem. A basement often smells in summer because it tends to be the dampest area of the home. Many basements also lack proper ventilation, which makes a musty smell more intense.
Other areas of a home that are more likely to develop summer smells include those places where moisture levels are naturally higher. Bathrooms may begin to smell musty because of the moisture given off from baths and showers. Laundry rooms may start to smell due to bacteria, mold and mildew in the drum of a washing machine.
If you’re noticing a musty smell in an unusual area, the problem could be structural. A breakdown of insulation or aging seals along doors and windows could be allowing more moisture to enter your home than usual. Leaky plumbing could also lead to odor-promoting moisture buildup. If other methods of addressing summer smells fail, you may want to have a handyman or contractor conduct a full inspection.
How to Get Rid of the Musty Smells
The best way to get rid of musty smells in the summer months partially depends on the source of the odors. For musty odors caused by moisture:
- Add and use exhaust fans in areas prone to excess humidity levels like bathrooms, laundry room and basement
- Install a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air
- Use oscillating fans and ceiling fans to increase air circulation throughout the home
- Throw away any items that have visible mold
- In humid areas, consider replacing carpeting with hard flooring that won’t hold onto odors
No matter the cause of summer smells, Fresh Wave Odor Eliminators can help. Fresh Wave Odor Removing Gel continuously absorbs and neutralizes odors for 30 to 60 days and is a great way to address smells in an entire room.
If you realize that one particular area or item is causing most of the problem, mount a Fresh Wave Pod close by. With double-sided tape, you can place a pod everywhere from the side of the washing machine to the inside of the garbage can lid. When filled with Fresh Wave Packs, the pods fight odors for 30 to 60 days.
To quickly freshen the air, try Fresh Wave Odor Removing Spray. Instead of masking odors with perfumes, our sprays bind with odor-causing molecules and neutralize them for long-lasting improvement of the air in your home. Fresh Wave Odor Removing Laundry Booster can help battle smells in the washing machine. You can also moisten a cloth with it and use it to clean hard surfaces throughout your home.