DEAR SAM: The mildew smell in my basement is overpowering. The basement is finished but not air conditioned. It has no cross-ventilation and no windows and only one sliding glass door. Is there any way to get rid of the mildew?

ANSWER: Look for clues to the cause of the mildew. Is there dampness in the basement from water seepage during summer or winter? Is there excessive humidity in the summer?

To rid the basement of the existing mildew, you should check the upholstery, drapes, clothes in closets, and other fabrics. Any positive findings will mean that these items will have to be cleaned, possibly professionally.

Some of the paneling may show mildew, which can be treated by washington with Clorox or similar household ammonia. If the finish has been affected, it may require new lacquer or varnish, depending on the present finish.

You may also want to use chloride of lime, suspended in bags.

Ventilation can be improved with windows or an exhaust fan in an outside wall. Even if the foundation is completely below grade, an areaway can be built to install the windows or fan. A dehumidifier will help during the summertime.

Address you questions to Samuel Fishlyn at Box 62, Newton Centre, Mass. 02159. For a personal reply, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.