Our house has a damp/musty smell to it when you first enter. Once you open a window/door the smell usually dissipates. In May (Chicago-land) the humidity in the house is about 30% upstairs and 40% in the crawlspace while dehumidifiers run on both floors.
We noticed that of our crawlspace dirt floor is moist, almost mud-like, along the front side of our house. See picture below. The floor moisture creeps forward a foot during heavy rains, and recedes a foot during dry spells, but almost never disappears entirely. The rest of the crawlspace floor is dry.
We notice no cracks in the foundation wall, and no water lines running down the wall. We recently installed a French drain to reduce the amount of water hitting the front of the house (the floor dampness existed before installing the drain). The gutters dump water into a pipe system that the sump pump uses, and shouldn't be dumping water at the foundation of the house.
Our sump pump runs routinely, about every 10 minutes during rain and every 30 minutes during dry spells. Ground water is always slowly pouring into the sump pit.
Is this damp ground something to be concerned about? Can it be fixed? Is it possible that the damp smell comes from the crawlspace floor moisture, or from something else? How can we get rid of the damp smell? We want to hire mold specialists to test and clean the crawlspace but are afraid their work will be wasted if we don't eliminate the source of the moisture first.