Five Tips to Prevent Dust In Your House
Let’s face it, your house can be neat and tidy but a layer of dust covering your furniture can make it look unclean!
Those of us who live in the Phoenix, Arizona area are very well acquainted with dust in the air. In fact I never heard the word “haboob” (basically a giant dust storm) until I moved to my current home in Mesa, AZ.
It’s well known amongst people who have allergies, asthma, bronchitis and related COPD type disease that dust can trigger attacks or worsen the symptoms of breathing disorders.
Largely due to my training and experience in indoor air quality and the building envelope (energy efficiency though proper air leakage sealing amongst other things) my home and office are virtually dust free and I thought I would share how I’ve accomplished that.
Many people think if they have their air ducts cleaned that will solve all of their dust problems, and they are hugely disappointed when that doesn’t do the trick. Having your ducts cleaned is a good idea, however only after you’ve fixed the problems causing the dust to get into your house in the first place.
If you find yourself having to constantly spend your weekends dusting, here are some tips that will help:
1) Use the right vacuum cleaner.
Believe it or not, one of the primary causes of spreading dust around your house is vacuuming. All sorts of tiny yuckies pass right through the filter on your vacuum cleaner and are now airborne until they settle back down on your furniture, counters, or worse…your food. Of course, that’s if you’re lucky enough not to breathe those particles in and let your lungs do the filtering for you!
Find a vacuum cleaner with good HEPA filters and change them every six months or less (I change mine every three months like clockwork). There are plenty of machines available that rate well for having good suction and have these highly effective filters that you can purchase for under $250.
2) Use the right filters on your central air conditioning and heating system.
Have you ever seen dust on the surfaces in a hospital? No, because hospitals use highly effective filtration systems on their HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Equipment.
Your central ac and heating unit is also basically a whole-home vacuum cleaner because it sucks air through a filter before recirculating that air back into your home. There are a number of excellent filtration systems that can be installed on your existing central air and heat system that will do an excellent job of catching and holding even the smallest of dust particles.
Cheap disposable filters sold at the big-box hardware stores are virtually useless in preventing dust and are affectionately known in the HVAC industry as “rock stoppers” because about the only thing that can’t get through them is a big rock!
It’s important to point out that freestanding machines like the Ionic Breeze and similar devices have been proven ineffective. This is because only a small volume of air can pass through them, leaving the majority of the air in your home unfiltered. If you have to choose between purchasing one of these so-called air cleaners or burning that big pile of money in your back yard, choose the latter – it would actually cost you less as at least burning your money wont run up your electric bill while doing nothing!
Call your local Air Conditioning and Heating Company for information on a good quality filtration system or electronic air cleaner.
Here’s an example of one of the top rated electronic air cleaners on the market today which incorporates HEPA filtration as well as UV Lights for air purification: http://airconditioningarizona.com/products/indoor-air-quality/air-purifiers/lennox-air-purifiers/pureair/
3) Have your central air ducts tested for leaks and sealed if significant duct leaks are found.
Hands down, the biggest source of dust in a house or building is caused by air duct leaks. Air ducts used by A/C and Heating systems are usually located in attics, crawl spaces and behind walls where lots of dust can be found. When you turn on your cooling or heating system this dust gets sucked into the air ducts and then circulated into your home by the air conditioner or furnace fan.
Having your air conditioner ducts sealed properly has the added benefit of lowering your power bill as leaky ducts are also the number one cause of high energy usage.
Here in the Phoenix, AZ area two utility companies; SRP and APS both have rebate programs to assist homeowners in the cost of having air ducts tested for leaks as well as additional rebates towards duct sealing and duct repair. This program is called the: Duct Test and Repair Rebate.
For those who live outside of AZ or are not an APS or SRP customer, check with your energy provider to see if they have a duct test and repair rebate program.
4) Don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets on cleaning rags.
If you’re like me you have a collection of cleaning rags and microfiber cloths that you use when cleaning that you wash a few times before throwing away…maybe because you’re environmentally conscious or maybe to save a few bucks…either way kudos!
Do not use dryer sheets like Bounce or fabric softener like Downy when washing and drying your cleaning rags. These products will reduce the fabrics ability to pick-up dust and also make them less absorbent.
5) Seal all cracks and gaps around doors, windows and attic openings.
This seems like an obvious way to keep dust out of your home, but you can do a little more than just adding some weather-stripping to keep your house dust-free.
Many people don’t realize that one of the major sources of air infiltration (air leaking into a house) comes from the attic and walls, not from poorly sealed windows and doors.
We all love those fancy plant shelves, recessed ceiling lights, and built in entertainment centers that builders tout as “luxury features” in a home, but what they don’t tell you is how much dust those features let into your house.
People are amazed when my company, Magic Touch Mechanical performs a whole-home energy assessment and with the aid of some special tools like a “blower-door” and “infrared camera”, show them how much air (carrying dust) is entering their home through these areas.
Having a professional HVAC Contractor / Home Performance Contractor “air seal” your house will go a long way towards reducing dust and also has the added benefit of making your home more efficient by making your central air and heating unit work less.
More info about air sealing can be found here: http://airconditioningarizona.com/service-plans/energy-audits/blower-door-test/
If you live in the Phoenix Metro area or within 35-40 miles of Mesa, AZ and would like to speak with a Certified Building Analyst from Magic Touch Mechanical about these or other ways to reduce the dust in your home, give us a call at (480) 855-8789 or E-mail us at info@MagicTouchAir.com and we’ll be glad to help you start breathing easier!