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Old 04-30-2003, 04:58 PM   #1
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Unhappy musty odor

Has anyone encountered a musty odor in their trailer?

We have just purchased a 1973 Airstream and I have tried everything to eliminate the musty odor. I've tried: open vinegar left standing; Spraying all fabrics with Febreze, washing down the entire trailer with ammonia; and also an open container of "Air Sponge" product. It may be less obvious, but it is still there.

Any ideas? I'm all out.
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Old 04-30-2003, 05:20 PM   #2
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Broken Arrow , Oklahoma
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You may need to be looking for mold or the source of the odor.

However; I use the anti static things you throw in the dryer (Downy) to get rid of cig smoke or any odor and it really works. I just place them out of site, two or three sheets is all it takes.

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Old 04-30-2003, 05:38 PM   #3
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Some sources of the musty odor may be:

1. Water damaged plywood at the floor
2. Carpet
3. Upholstery
4. Foam
5. Draperies
6. Insulation in the walls
7. Rodent droppings, old nests, etc. in places unseen (yuck!)

I would check-out each of these to try & determine the source...then go from there ~

Also, a good wash down of all the walls & cabinets might help. Especially if the PO was a smoker.

Good Luck!

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Old 04-30-2003, 06:43 PM   #4
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Re: musty odor

Reference was made to a pretty handy sounding device called an
'ozone generator' on the following link, along with some advice on the hazards of mold in an Airstream.

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Old 04-30-2003, 11:29 PM   #5
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Ozone Generator

Although the evidence on that thread indicates a lack of results,I can tell you from personal experience that they work well on musty basements.The best thing is to crank it for a day closed up and then air it out.Don't try it while you are using or working in the rig.
If you find any mold or mildew at all wipe it with a Clorox solution.Mold kills brain cells and is to be taken real seriously.
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Old 05-02-2003, 02:58 PM   #6
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Incredible odors in the floor.

I did all of the things suggested by the other posts on this thread, including having a professional cleaner come with a "Tim Allen" mounted in the truck steam generator and vaccuum, to no avail.

The Cleaning company then let me borrow an ozone generator (I had one previously work wonders on a hydrocarbon chemical based smell several years ago), but again, no lasting improvement.

Then I pulled up the carpet -- what an incredible odor was discovered!

I opted to go back with Pergo self-cushioned fake wood flooring, but when I took the carpet out out side, I noted that the carpet itself was not that big, and having the carpet streched out on the lawn it would be no problem at all to use the old carpet as a pattern and cut new carpet to where it would just "drop in".

Prior to pulling the carpet I was quoted a price of $200 for labor to replace the carpet. In hindsite, after pulling the carpet and seeing just how simple the cuts really were, $200 was a rip for the amount of work involved.

If your floor is really not in bad shape and you could reuse the existing tack strips, the carpet route would be the way to go if other concerns were not clamoring for a hard surface floor.

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 05-02-2003, 04:33 PM   #7
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Tackstrip will hold odors (mold) as well, and replacing tackstrip is one of the least onerous parts of installing new carpet.

I'd pull out the old, use bleach on the floor where the tackstrip had been, and install new.

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Old 05-02-2003, 05:03 PM   #8
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I recarpeted my former SOB trailer with a multi-color Berber carpet from Home Depot. best thing I ever did for that trailer. The Berber was cheap, wore like iron, and didn't show dirt.

I made the major cuts on the carpet outside the trailer, put down tack strips (none originally), laid a cheap pad, and finished the whole job in a couple of hours.

I did rent a knee-kicker to tighten the carpet; took me a week to stop limping.
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Old 05-03-2003, 05:54 AM   #9
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One more place to look.....

The curtains. We had removed ours and taken them to a local seamstress, to have a new set made. She called us last night and told my wife that when she cut one the backing off of one set, she found mold inside. We have her doing the curtains in the front of the coach, but I am going to remove the curtains on the windows by the twin beds and inspect them. We may just try washing them, and hopefully they won't shrink.

I use an ozone generator in mine. It does work. I have not done a "shock" ozone treatment on mine yet, I just run it for 90 minutes every so often and it seems to last 4-5 days. I should just set it on "continuous" and let it go for 8 hours or so. I paid $450 for mine, and consider it money well spent. Also works great to freshen up the inside of a vehicle too.
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Old 05-03-2003, 06:03 AM   #10
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It depends on how old they are..They just might not wash out at all..

We ended up replacing all of our curtains for that reason..They just fell apart from "UV ROT".. Good luck to you..

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Old 02-08-2008, 07:47 PM   #11
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use a box or two of ice cream salt from walmart. put it in trays in the camper and the salt absorbs the odor and moisture. it's also very cheap. here in la. the humidity is killer and this works like a charm, particularly if closed up for a time.
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:22 PM   #12
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Rear Floor rot

Go to the back of your trailer, get in under the beds (rear bed model) or in the cabinets (rear bath) and poke around. Most likely you have some rotting plywood back there that is wet/damp/rotting giving it that favorite vintage Airstream musty / moldy smell. If not there, check up front under the front window under the gaucho. Or under the twin beds in the middle section, under the windows. Let us know what you find.

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Old 02-09-2008, 05:27 AM   #13
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You know you guys are workin' a 4 year old thread?
It would be nice to know what the final outcome was, though.
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Old 02-09-2008, 05:55 AM   #14
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Getting ready to pull my carpet out, been putting it off for a while. Will be interesting to see what we find.
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:25 AM   #15
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1969 31' Sovereign
Rock Hill , South Carolina
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Musty odors and mold can be eliminated with a RGF Photohydroionization unit. It plugs into a two plug 110V plug. The process is one where all organic material is oxidized by low level ozone, super oxide ions, hydro-peroxides, passive negative ions and UV light targeted on a hydrated tri-metallic target. In layman's terms, it zaps all organic material including bacteria, mold, odor and VOC's. They are not cheap (about $600 EA) but you can also use it in your home when not in the trailer. You can find more information on their website or send me a private message to discuss further.
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Old 05-21-2014, 11:48 AM   #16
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Possibly a new record for reviving an old thread! After 11 years, I hope the original poster has figured out how to deal with their musty trailer

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Old 06-08-2014, 10:19 PM   #17
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Old thread...

Even if it's an old thread, I read everything I come across. Never know when it will come in handy, and all is grist for my [ignorant] mill! I would also like to know what the results were for the original poster!

Reading a thread like this, I am SO thankful that we moved long ago to a high desert state. Even our oldies have decent sub flooring, and if you keep/get the critters out, there are no odors at all. Having said that, even clearing out from our newly-purchased '59 Overlander two dead birds and finding a third one last month (forgot to check under the front gaucho) resulted in no odors; poor things were just all dried up.

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Old 09-01-2015, 06:25 PM   #18
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Musty odor

I was just about to ask the same question about the musty odor in a 1973 Airstream. We have had it for 2 years and it doesn't get any better. We have done everything you described plus washed the curtains and I've put the upholstered pieces out in the sun for a day. I plan to have them recovered at some point. Have new appliances. The bathroom subfloor was replaced just before we bought it. Was told to wash down the surfaces with a 17% or more hydrogen peroxide solution. Anyone have any luck with getting rid of it?
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Old 09-01-2015, 09:17 PM   #19
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1974 25' Tradewind
Calgary , Alberta
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We got a 1974 Tradewind about a month ago and are planning to do a full rebuild... it has the musty smell and I expect it will stay until we get all the old fabric and wood out. The musty smell has stale cigarette smoke undertones and the upper interior surfaces are tacky to the touch and yellowed, so I think one of the previous owners were smokers.

So far we've removed the old carpet (probably a second generation replacement), underlay, and tack strips with little change in the tang in the air; the plywood that we can see has some stains where water has been but no soft spots found so far. Still I think we will end up replacing part of the floor and once we're in that far it may be just as easy to do the whole thing and that way we can be sure that there is nothing growing in there.
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:19 PM   #20
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Hi there, I'm becoming more aware of the dangers of mould after just watching a recent documentary called Mould ! My '72 has a slight odor was truly awful when I first got it, I threw out all the old bedding and gaucho. Wish I'd kept the curtains and just had them thoroughly cleaned but it was so dusty and dirty inside decided to discard too. I kept the carpet but replaced the padding under layer, it cleaned up nicely with a professional clean but after watching the documentary on how serious mould is I'm going to replace that too with new carpet tiles as definitely some black stains under the carpet that could be mould.
Most of the smell has gone now but it's still not quite right, if replacing the carpet doesn't solve will have to dig deeper. I've ordered a mould test kit as well.
Any thoughts on mould mitigation would be more than welcome .. I'd bet a good number on vintage trailers could have mould issues knowing how these trailers can leak ...
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