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  1. #1

    Dust problem solution

    I have posted about this problem before on the residential board. I am still trying to solve my problem, if it is a problem.
    I have always had a good amount of dust in this 102 year-old house. THe walls, plaster, are covered with sheetrock as are the ceilings except one which is the old cealtex. It has been painted with Kilz and two coats of paint over the past five years or so.
    When I shine a bright flashlight at night, I can see lots of small dust particles flying through the air. I thought it was because of the new system with more air movement and the duct system being twenty years old. ( The system is fiber board trunks and flex tubes to the vents in each room.) I have had the installer come twice to check for leaks of problems in the duct work. He said both last fall and this fall that the coils are not showing signs of dust buildup so the returns are ok. He checked certain spots on the fiber board and said it does not appear to be breaking down. It is yellow inside the boxes and the dust is while. I have two oriental rugs, a berber, and a braided rug. The rest is hardwood flooring. No curtains.
    I see dust particles in every room at any spot in the room. When I brush my clothes, clean or dirty, hundreds of small particles fly. These are all only visible with a bright light.
    Is this normal or is it dangerous for us. I have lived here for thirty years.
    I have an electrolux vacuum that was made in the mid eighties. I am thinking that for years I have only been spreading dust around with the vacuum and didn't know it.
    I use two of the filters from Home Depot that are rated FPR 4. One is just the regular filter I get from a supply house, three filters all together.
    If anyone has any insight into this I would really appreicate the help.

  2. #2
    In my experience the most common causes for excessive dust are: 1. cellulose insulation and 2. protrusions in the ceiling for recessed lights, etc.. Do you have either?

  3. #3
    Hi. Thank you for the reply. I have the blown fiberglass pink insulation installed about thirty years ago. I have no lighting other than ceiling fans with the light attachment. I have wondered if the culprit is our vacuum, an older model electrolux, which could just be spreading the smaller particles around. Still, dust throughout the house? I just can't figure it. I have considered having the dust analyzed but it's probably cost-prohibitive.If you have other ideas, please share. Thanks again.

  4. #4
    The only time your vacuum would be a dust creator is when you are vacuuming or for about 30 minutes thereafter.

    My guess is that the blown in insulation and the protrustions from ceiling fans are your problem.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    where it's nice and warm
    Get someone to add a fresh air supply to your air handler and redo your dust test while the house is under positive pressure.

  6. #6
    I will talk to my trane guy about the fresh air supply. Meanwhile, what about using one of the pleated filters in the three returns that I have to see if that cleans the air? I have used one regular filter ( 20X20) and two FPR 4 ( a 10x20 and a 20x20) for the past year. The 20 years precedeing this new machine I used the Allergy Free Dust Fighter (black electrostatic filter washed about every month or so as I was more ignorant than I am now about taking care of HVAC equipment). I talked to an air quality lab technician in my state who goes to homes and cleans ducts or seals the fiber ductboard like I have. He suggested using all three pleated Filtreetes for a while. He suggested that my system with three returns and a variable speed motor should be ok. Concerning positive pressure; When the system is running, do I have positive pressure in the house? If so, does that keep things from leaking or drifting into the house?
    Thanks for the replys. I really appreciate the education.

  7. #7
    Using three Filtrete filters is a waste of your money. Visible particles are over 10 microns in size. Any pleated filter will remove close to 100% of the particles of this size that reach the filter.

  8. #8
    I don't know if it will take care of the dust but I examined my fan in the bedroom. Ten foot ceilings so it's not always apparent that there is a problem. You were right about the protrusion. The housing had slipped down on top of the fan due to a screw missing. There was a lot of dust on the fan blades and fiber glass got on my hands when I was working to get a screw into the little hole. I cauled with clear silicon around the top of the housing which moves when the fan is running. Maybe it will block the flow of air from there. The hole wasn't very big but still...a source of dust. Thanks for the tip. I went around the old fireplace and caulked some more as well. I really think the old ductwork needs replacing to get rid of all the dust from twenty years. Can't afford it right now. I got an estimate this morning. The installer says probably 1000 per ton is a good average. I have a three and a half ton unit. He wouldn't have to replace all the flex but he would take it apart and reseal it all in order to run the tests after it is finished.
    Thanks for the input. I really appreciate your time.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Your house, like most, is probably under a negative pressure when the blower is running bc most hvac systems have dominant supply duct leakage outside the thermal envelope due to the fact there is more supply duct than return. It would be a good idea to get the duct system completely redone with a properly sized and sealed duct system and add a small outdoor air duct to create a positive pressure in the living space. Have an energy audit done on your house, most times the culprit shows up fairly easily with a blower door test. Check out this site for more info hope this helps to lead you in the right direction. That dust is most likely insulation from your attic. If you can rub your finger across a mantle or something and get a fair amount of "dust" then rub it between your fingers if it balls up its probably insulation bc they're are oils and such in it, if it doesn't ball up its probably dust. Best of luck.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Desert Southwest
    If you decide to replace your older vacuum I highly recommend getting a Bissel like the one listed below. The first few times you use it you will be shocked at the amount of dust it pulls out of the carpet. I bought one for a GF a few years ago after her super high dollar one died after spending the better part of an hour reading consumer reports and reviews.
    If you can't fix it with JB Weld, Duct Tape, and Ty Wire it has to be replaced.
    No good deed goes unpunished.
    If you want to take off friday to go fishing then make sure you train your helper right.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by breathe easy View Post
    In my experience the most common causes for excessive dust are: 1. cellulose insulation and 2. protrusions in the ceiling for recessed lights, etc.. Do you have either?
    I have a similar situation in my newly purchased home, and have all of the above - blown cellulose insulation, recessed lighting, and ceiling fans. What the steps I need to take in order to have this issue addressed?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    south louisiana
    seal the penetrations in the ceiling into the attic.
    Recessed lights can be made air tight with baffles (inserts) and air tight
    trim kits.
    supply grills removed and gap between housing & cut in ceiling sealed.
    bath fan covers removed and gap between housing & cut in sheetrock sealed.
    seal oversized cut for stove vent.
    mastic tape is excellent to seal the supply boxes & bath vent & stove vent issues.

    insulate and seal attic access. or if you have a attic stair case then install an attic tent.
    or make a box, weatherstrip & add weight to make it seal.

    have a blower door test done for house leaks and a duct test for
    ducts & return leaks.
    rather than trying to address the leaks in ceiling into attic from in
    the attic..make the seal from inside the house.

    Resnet and BPI train energy raters & auditors that do this
    type of testing. look for someone with experience in existing homes.

    best of luck
    The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    [QUOTE]Your house, like most, is probably under a negative pressure when the blower is running bc most hvac systems have dominant supply duct leakage outside the thermal envelope due to the fact there is more supply duct than return. /QUOTE

    I have a problem with air infiltration here in my home.

    Question: Is leaking supply duct the only possible cause of a negative pressure inside the structure?

    Also: My duct is rigid, what type of sealant ( not tape?) would be the best to seal it?

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