Where is all the dust coming from?

Page 2 of 2  
trainfan1 wrote:

The humidity was 55% (I have a hygrometer). I thought that was rather high and the electrical bill was incredibly large. After I got the first electrical bill, I raised the temperature to 84 degrees.
I called in a respected HVAC company and they fully checked, oiled, cleaned everything and charged the Freon. I was there right next to him the entire time.
I replaced the filters with a much higher quality brand. When all was said and done, the humidity was still 55%, the electrical bills were huge and the dust something awful.
I bought Energy Star compliant window A/C's. Humidity dropped down to 43-47% and I was able to keep the house at 72-78 degrees (depending upon how hot and sunny it was). My electrical bill dropped to near nothing (relatively speaking). The window A/C's paid themselves off within 2 months.
While I was at it, I added attic fans and cut out a whole bunch of soffit vents (nice and neatly, thank you) to increase air ingress. That dropped the temperature of the attic from over 160 to 110 degrees. I can now store non-temperature sensitive items in the attic. It's incredibly stupid to have a central AC in the attic when it's as hot as it is down here in the South.
Since I was on a roll, I thought a relatively easy way to keep a house cooler was to paint it a much lighter color (increased albedo) which I did in the early spring. The outside walls are now cool to the touch on blistering hot and sunny days.
I think I just went tangential in this post.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Julie wrote:

DING DING DING there you go. You're moving a lot of air above your head with those attic fans...
Rob
and cut out a whole bunch of

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
trainfan1 wrote:

    You are correct about the movement of air in the attic, but the ductwork should not be pulling any of that air into the house unless they are leaking. My home has the air handlers in the attic and I also use attic fans in order to keep the attic temperature reasonable. I can tell you that many so called HVAC pros do not take all the necessary steps to seal the units or the ductwork. But that is a long story.
    If it were my home, I would turn on the furnace blower and check for air leaks in the attic. She may be shocked at what she finds.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Julie wrote:

Nonetheless, it sounds like your ducts are leaking.

--
The e-mail address in our reply-to line is reversed in an attempt to
minimize spam. Our true address is of the form snipped-for-privacy@prodigy.net.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Julie wrote:

I think I found your answer, but you're not going to like it.
You're really not going to like it.
The dust is formed - wait for it now - inside your home. That's exactly right - inside your home!
I didn't read the whole article: I don't know whether dust-excreting organisms are eating various raw materials or some exotic chemical reaction is turning brass light fixtures into particulate matter or whether there's a case of spontaneous creation going on, but, well, there you are.
Here's the straight skinney, directly from the National Allergy Nursing association.
http://www.allergynursing.com/questions2/dust.php
I just knew you weren't going to like it...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Get rid of the window A/C units. If you suspect dust in the ventilation, pay someone to vacuum it out, even just for the piece of mind.
Secondly, any equipment that you have in the house, that is trapping dust, is doing a good job. As long as it isn't sucking air in from the outside, let it run.
Third, Try this... - Pick a room. Preferably a room that isn't used too often, but still gets dusty. - Clean it as much as you can. - Put tape around the seams of the windows, over the outlet holes, even over the gap between the floor and baseboard. You want to see off ANY place that might be introducing dust. - Leave the room for a week or so (long enough that it should be dusty) - Go back in... Any dust? If so, you missed something. The smoke from some incense can help you find drafts. Clean it up and seal it tighter. Look for ANY drafts. - If there is no dust, then you found one source in that room someplace. Remove tape from one particular area... Just the outlets or just the window, etc. - Close the door and tape seal it shut again. - Go back to the room again after a week... ...etc. Eventually you will find the source for the dust in that room. Once you know that you will probably have your answer.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

snip
Do a CSI and find out the composition of the "dust" This could go a long way toward finding the source. Maybe the local high school science lab has a microscope.
Dust bunnies and lint balls are really hair and fibers, dust is earth, pollen, other particles, etc.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
First, try performing a little experiment. Lock yourself in a room. Stay there overnight. In the morning, observe that you are still alive. (If you are not alive, you need not continue with the experiment.) Since you have not used up all the oxygen in the room and died, this indicates that air must be getting into the room from somewhere else. You might want to repeat the experiment (assuming you are still alive), but with the entire house, and for a longer period. If you are still alive, then air is probably getting in from the outside - and bringing dust with it. If you do succeed in sealing out all air from the outside, you will likely find that this does not improve the quality of your life, even if it does reduce the amount of dust that gets in.
You are not the first person to confront this issue. The semiconductor industry has been working on it for a long time. They need to build Clean Rooms. Let's see what they do. You can get a pretty good description at http://www.coastwidelabs.com/Technical%20Articles/Cleaning%20the%20Cleanroom.htm.According to this article: "Typical office building air contains from500,000 to 1,000,000 particles (0.5 microns or larger) per cubic foot ofair." The article seems to imply (but doesn't really state explicitly) that100 particles is about as clean as you can get. What I would like to know ishow they count those 1,000,000 particles in the typical office. I wouldguess you could add another zero for my office.OK - I've been a bit flippant in the last couple paragraphs, but seriously,it might be time to compromise. I spent a lot of years battling against dust(but probably with not quite as much determination as you). Reading yourpost about all the scrubbing and cleaning you do, my fist thought was I wishyou could move in with me. In time, I came to accept that the world is avery messy place, and trying to remove the dust, even from one house, islike trying to drain the water from one section of the ocean. It may well bethat dust is like bacteria - that it's not good to be exposed to a lot ofit, but you need some around to keep up your resistance to its bad effects.One day, even we will turn back into dust, and our efforts to keep ourhouses clean won't make any difference at all. Is all that scrubbing reallythe best thing you can do with your time to improve the quality of yourlife? As someone who still remembers when every house and public buildingreeked of cigarette smoke, I'm just happy to be rid of that smell, and Ifind dust to be little more than a minor inconvenience that can be kept inabeyance by vacuuming once a week. There's also a certain visceral sense ofsatisfaction that comes from getting into an out-of-the-way corner andvacuuming a big ball of dust.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Resubmitting my previous post. Hopefully Outlook Express won't mutilate it so horribly this time.
First, try performing a little experiment. Lock yourself in a room. Stay there overnight. In the morning, observe that you are still alive. (If you are not alive, you need not continue with the experiment.) Since you have not used up all the oxygen in the room and died, this indicates that air must be getting into the room from somewhere else. You might want to repeat the experiment (assuming you are still alive), but with the entire house, and for a longer period. If you are still alive, then air is probably getting in from the outside - and bringing dust with it. If you do succeed in sealing out all air from the outside, you will likely find that this does not improve the quality of your life, even if it does reduce the amount of dust that gets in.
You are not the first person to confront this issue. The semiconductor industry has been working on it for a long time. They need to build Clean Rooms. Let's see what they do. You can get a pretty good description at http://www.coastwidelabs.com/Technical%20Articles/Cleaning%20the%20Cleanroom.htm . According to this article: "Typical office building air contains from500,000 to 1,000,000 particles (0.5 microns or larger) per cubic foot of air." The article seems to imply (but doesn't really state explicitly) that100 particles is about as clean as you can get. What I would like to know is how they count those 1,000,000 particles in the typical office. I would guess you could add another zero for my office.
OK - I've been a bit flippant in the last couple paragraphs, but seriously,it might be time to compromise. I spent a lot of years battling against dust (but probably with not quite as much determination as you). Reading your post about all the scrubbing and cleaning you do, my fist thought was I wish you could move in with me. In time, I came to accept that the world is a very messy place, and trying to remove the dust, even from one house, is like trying to drain the water from one section of the ocean. It may well be that dust is like bacteria - that it's not good to be exposed to a lot of it, but you need some around to keep up your resistance to its bad effects.One day, even we will turn back into dust, and our efforts to keep our houses clean won't make any difference at all. Is all that scrubbing really the best thing you can do with your time to improve the quality of your life? As someone who still remembers when every house and public building reeked of cigarette smoke, I'm just happy to be rid of that smell, and I find dust to be little more than a minor inconvenience that can be kept in abeyance by vacuuming once a week. There's also a certain visceral sense of satisfaction that comes from getting into an out-of-the-way corner and vacuuming a big ball of dust.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Julie wrote:

When you had an HVAC company check your system, did the tech check for a leak in the return air duct. A leak in the return air duct would tend to draw a lot of dust into your home, especially if the air handler is located in the attic.
[8~{} Uncle Monster
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

No, they did not.
This, however, might give me empirical evidence of the source of the problem:
http://www.inspectortools.com/blowerdoor.html
Someone else here mentioned semiconductor clean rooms. I used to be an engineer and had to go into them on occasion. If I recall correctly, it was a class 10 room and directly over the production areas, it was less than a class 1. Each overhead HEPA unit (and there were a billion of them), cost over a $100K each.
But gaining admittance was an utter PITA. I hated going through the 10 minute cleaning process and getting into the bunny suits. I felt sorry for the mfg operators that had to do this all the time.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Julie wrote:

The reason I asked is, it's often difficult to seal the ductwork on the bottom of a horizontal air handler. It can be easily overlooked during installation and inspection if installer is a little slack. A repairman may not even look at it because he will assume that the equipment was installed properly. I see it all the time and the repair may require cutting into the side of the ductboard to reach the bottom and seal it from the inside. The access opening cut into the side of the return air duct is a good way to get to the evaporator coil for cleaning and if it has been sucking in dust, it will need cleaning.
[8~{} Uncle Monster
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Julie wrote:

I had major problems telling SWMBO'd that most of the dust in our bedroom comes from us! Our clothes and also us shedding skin! I've given up the hassle. :(
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.