Ivory Tower Basement
Posted by Lee Wishing on December 12, 2003 at 08:54:16:
Here's a real challenge. I work at a western Pennsylvania college in the basement of a building that was built in 1900. When the temperature drops below 15 degrees a foul sewer gas odor emanates from an office two doors down from me in the southwest corner of the building. We've done a lot of work but can't figure out the source of the smell.

We've brought in a backhoe and dug around the perimeter of the southwest corner to see if there were any old sewer lines. We found nothing. We asked the borough to check their municipal maps for old sewer lines. Again, nothing.

Then we ripped out the walls of three offices, installed a ventilation system to draw out the odor between the old 1900 basement wall and the office drywall. We also sealed the old basement wall. Guess what? A few days ago when the temperature dropped below 15, the sewer smell came back.

One of our safety employees thinks the smell is a mildew because they can't find any indication of mold. The college has hired another consultant to take a look and it seems as though their path of treatment will be to improve the ventilation system. This seems to me as though we're treating the symptom rather than the source of the problem.

Does anybody have any ideas?


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