Maramures, Romania - December 03, 2016: A typical wooden house in the Maramures region of Romania during the winter.

As mold grows, it releases microbial volatile organic compounds, which are responsible for the tell-tale musty odor often found in older homes. A musty odor in your home, no matter it’s age, is a sign that mold has taken hold somewhere. There are several things you can do to get rid of that musty odor for a fresh, clean-smelling home.

Find the Mold

The first thing you need to do is address the mold problem. Mold not only produces a musty odor, but it can also be hazardous to your health. Mold commonly grows around a plumbing leak. Hopefully, it’s someplace that’s easy to access, like under the kitchen sink. However, it could also be growing inside your walls around a dripping pipe.

Once you’ve found the mold, wash the area with a solution made from one gallon of water and one cup of bleach. Scrub off all of the mold, and make sure the area is well ventilated as it dries completely. You can take care of a small area of mold yourself. But if it’s a large area, you may need to have a mold remediation specialist deal with it.

Fix the Plumbing Leak

The source of the problem needs to be fixed, or the mold will come right back. You’ll either need to fix the leak yourself or call in a plumber. However, in an old home, your plumbing may need to be replaced if the pipes have deteriorated, which means you will likely need a professional. For example, galvanized steel pipes are known to develop rust. Polybutylene plastic pipes, popular throughout the 1970s and 1980s, are prone to developing cracks.

It’s Not Always a Leaky Pipe

Any moisture buildup can foster mold growth, not just plumbing problems. If you live in a humid climate, consider installing dehumidifiers, especially in the bathrooms and kitchen. After you shower, open the windows and run the fan to help dry the bathroom. Also, keep furniture at least a few inches away from the walls to prevent trapping moisture. Keeping your home clean and dry will prevent mold from taking hold.

Use Natural Odor Absorbers

Natural odor absorbers like baking soda and activated charcoal can help to eliminate any lingering smells. You’ll need to change these every week or two to keep them fresh. Also, sunlight and fresh air are natural air purifiers, so open the windows during the day. Sunlight and fresh air also inhibit mold growth.

It may take some time to completely resolve a mold problem and musty odors. Once you do, keeping your home dry and letting in fresh air and sunshine should keep your home mold-free.