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  1. #1

    Dusty house problem

    Hi Leeannwc,
    I found your thread online when searching for answers to my horrible dust problem. I have done many of the things that you have done and still have an enormous amount of dust accumulation as well. I was just wondering if you ever found a solution to your problem? Would love to hear from you. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    24,994

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    south louisiana
    Posts
    2,996
    so what is your dusty house problem carolinadawn?
    The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

  4. #4
    We purchased a bank owned mold problem home in 2007. Finally have gotten the mold taken care of properly. Have an air quality expert involved who said mold is all but gone, however the first level of our home has a very high level of dust particulate. A level "4" on his scale. The top floor and basement improved after his remediation. He said he comes across a home like ours only about once every 2 years. He had the dust tested and it showed 45 % skin cells (which is typical), and 35% cellulose fibers. Other minor parts of the dust were 5% starch, 2% synthetic, 5% "amorphous" or unidentifiable, which somewhat concerns me. No concerns related to outdoor environment or pets.

    Our air expert recommended we rip up our living room carpet and replace the subfloor which is a cellulose looking material that just basically flakes apart. It is not typically used for floors, but more often as wall insulation. This is the only room that has it. We had concerns about it too which is why before we moved in we very thickly coated it with a KILZ type primer. There were some animal smells as well that we wanted to cover up. I really have a hard time believing that this HEAVILY painted (soaked with paint) subfloor is creating this horrible amount of dust. I am able to write in the dust twice daily.

    My concern is that the fibers in the dust are actually coming more from the insulation in our walls!!! My next step is to try to seal the area where the ducts meet the walls due to possibility there are gaps allowing dust to enter rooms from insulation inside the walls. I have seen that our walls have the same soft boards that our living room floor does. Not sure what other solutions there are for when the cellulose insulation in the walls is creating massive amounts of dust???? Anyone else have experience with this?

    I am very exhausted from all of this. My allergies are going crazy and I have considered moving multiple times. However we love our home, neighborhood, mortgage payment, etc. The dust barely bothers my husband at all so needless to say he is not as motivated to fix the "problem." We have had ducts cleaned various methods 4 times since 2007, we have had multiple different filters (ionizing ones irritated me as well so now we have an AprilAire and it is ok but filter needs changed monthly and is expensive), we tried a UV light which is still on our furnace but we do not use, used it when mold was more of a problem, we have checked the dryer vent connection and it seems fine (though I do wonder if fibers are coming out other openings in the dryer so I duct taped them) it is also a very cheap dryer. My concern is that the dust is clearly a dark blue looking material with obvious s-shaped fibers of various colors which would make me thing the laundry but the dust sample showed this was a low %. Some of it can appear whitish gray with almost rough sand like particles however. We have small room air purifiers and vacuum as often as possible as well. Any help would be tremendously appreciated! Thanks!

  5. #5
    Also wanted to mention we recently had the basement "waterproofed" (more like a water redirection system, ha!) so the water is not really an issue anymore and mold should no longer be a problem.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Morgan Hill Ca.
    Posts
    1,178
    Quote Originally Posted by CarolinaDawn View Post
    We purchased a bank owned mold problem home in 2007. Finally have gotten the mold taken care of properly. Have an air quality expert involved who said mold is all but gone, however the first level of our home has a very high level of dust particulate. A level "4" on his scale. The top floor and basement improved after his remediation. He said he comes across a home like ours only about once every 2 years. He had the dust tested and it showed 45 % skin cells (which is typical), and 35% cellulose fibers. Other minor parts of the dust were 5% starch, 2% synthetic, 5% "amorphous" or unidentifiable, which somewhat concerns me. No concerns related to outdoor environment or pets.

    Our air expert recommended we rip up our living room carpet and replace the subfloor which is a cellulose looking material that just basically flakes apart. It is not typically used for floors, but more often as wall insulation. This is the only room that has it. We had concerns about it too which is why before we moved in we very thickly coated it with a KILZ type primer. There were some animal smells as well that we wanted to cover up. I really have a hard time believing that this HEAVILY painted (soaked with paint) subfloor is creating this horrible amount of dust. I am able to write in the dust twice daily.

    My concern is that the fibers in the dust are actually coming more from the insulation in our walls!!! My next step is to try to seal the area where the ducts meet the walls due to possibility there are gaps allowing dust to enter rooms from insulation inside the walls. I have seen that our walls have the same soft boards that our living room floor does. Not sure what other solutions there are for when the cellulose insulation in the walls is creating massive amounts of dust???? Anyone else have experience with this?

    I am very exhausted from all of this. My allergies are going crazy and I have considered moving multiple times. However we love our home, neighborhood, mortgage payment, etc. The dust barely bothers my husband at all so needless to say he is not as motivated to fix the "problem." We have had ducts cleaned various methods 4 times since 2007, we have had multiple different filters (ionizing ones irritated me as well so now we have an AprilAire and it is ok but filter needs changed monthly and is expensive), we tried a UV light which is still on our furnace but we do not use, used it when mold was more of a problem, we have checked the dryer vent connection and it seems fine (though I do wonder if fibers are coming out other openings in the dryer so I duct taped them) it is also a very cheap dryer. My concern is that the dust is clearly a dark blue looking material with obvious s-shaped fibers of various colors which would make me thing the laundry but the dust sample showed this was a low %. Some of it can appear whitish gray with almost rough sand like particles however. We have small room air purifiers and vacuum as often as possible as well. Any help would be tremendously appreciated! Thanks!
    I have seen this sort of thing before (though I never went as far as having a hygienist look into it).

    What I did find was there was a large duct leak in the attic of the building (which was previously a house now being used as a chiropractics office) causing unfiltered air to be pulled in from outdoors. I would doubt seriously that that dust could have been half skin cells, but it is something worth looking into.

    Have you had the duct work inspected? Does the heat/AC even have to be running to produce the dust?

    I am curious as to what they find. Good luck
    If a day goes by and you have learned nothing, I hope you got a lot of sleep.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,065
    Quote Originally Posted by CarolinaDawn View Post
    . He said he comes across a home like ours only about once every 2 years. He had the dust tested and it showed 45 % skin cells (which is typical), and 35% cellulose fibers. Other minor parts of the dust were 5% starch, 2% synthetic, 5% "amorphous" or unidentifiable, which somewhat concerns me. No concerns related to outdoor environment or pets.

    Our air expert recommended we rip up our living room carpet and replace the subfloor which is a cellulose looking material that just basically flakes apart. It is not typically used for floors, but more often as wall insulation. This is the only room that has it. We had concerns about it too which is why before we moved in we very thickly coated it with a KILZ type primer. There were some animal smells as well that we wanted to cover up. I really have a hard time believing that this HEAVILY painted (soaked with paint) subfloor is creating this horrible amount of dust. I am able to write in the dust twice daily.

    My concern is that the fibers in the dust are actually coming more from the insulation in our walls!!! My next step is to try to seal the area where the ducts meet the walls due to possibility there are gaps allowing dust to enter rooms from insulation inside the walls. I have seen that our walls have the same soft boards that our living room floor does. Not sure what other solutions there are for when the cellulose insulation in the walls is creating massive amounts of dust???? Anyone else have experience with this?

    I am very exhausted from all of this. My allergies are going crazy and I have considered moving multiple times. However we love our home, neighborhood, mortgage payment, etc. The dust barely bothers my husband at all so needless to say he is not as motivated to fix the "problem." We have had ducts cleaned various methods 4 times since 2007, we have had multiple different filters (ionizing ones irritated me as well so now we have an AprilAire and it is ok but filter needs changed monthly and is expensive), we tried a UV light which is still on our furnace but we do not use, used it when mold was more of a problem, we have checked the dryer vent connection and it seems fine (though I do wonder if fibers are coming out other openings in the dryer so I duct taped them) it is also a very cheap dryer. My concern is that the dust is clearly a dark blue looking material with obvious s-shaped fibers of various colors which would make me thing the laundry but the dust sample showed this was a low %. Some of it can appear whitish gray with almost rough sand like particles however. We have small room air purifiers and vacuum as often as possible as well. Any help would be tremendously appreciated! Thanks!
    Dust is everywhere. The wind blows and dust moves. Dust enters you home on clothes and through air leaks. Most of the dust settles to the horizontal surfaces. The vacuum cleaner and the air filter remove the most of the dust from our homes. Most dust will not affect occupants if it is kept dry. High humidity activates the ever present mold spores which is part of the dust make-up. Important to aviod +50%RH or moisture condensation of cool surface during cold weather.
    Do you have a ultra sonic humidifier or moisture atomizer which can add silicone particulate to the air?
    How are you keeping your home dry? Are you adding filtered fresh air to your home?
    Regards TB
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    south louisiana
    Posts
    2,996
    I'm not going to repost the whole original post, but just ask questions
    that will give us more information.

    where in the house do you have cellulose insulation?
    in the walls? attic?
    has anyone verified what type of insulation you have in the walls?
    are the walls & ceilings sheetrock or some other material?
    where are the ducts located? attic crawlspace or basement?
    where are supply ducts located? walls ceilings floor?
    what type of ducts do you have, flex or hard pipe?
    where is/are the return air(s) located?
    do you have recessed lights?
    fireplace?

    what was cause of mold?
    how was it remediated?
    how long ago was this done & have there been any issues
    with mold since then?

    I'm not real familiar with basements, so walk me through..
    is the first floor of the house over just basement or is there
    an area that is over a crawlspace?
    what type of furnace & where is it located?

    there has to be a pathway for air to move into the living space.
    as this air moves, it picks up particulate matter. this would
    be the 'dust'.

    In 'dusty' houses I've worked on, the focus is on air sealing.
    to find the areas to air seal..you get a blower door test.
    this would be a house that would require more than a blow & go
    test. because you want to 'see' where the infiltration sites are located.
    rather than just what the leakage amount adds up to.

    to verify leakage around baseboards you would have to feel these areas
    while blower door is depressurizing the house.
    same for ceiling moldings, around outlets & switches, bath fan covers
    recessed lights etc.

    air leakage at floor is caused by sole plate of wall not being sealed to subfloor.
    I would suspect this more than the subfloor itself.
    by depressurizing the house with the blower door, the leaks are exaggerated,
    so that they are easy to find. once you find the leakage, you then have to
    decide what to seal the leaks with.

    products like caulk work well because they expand & contract.
    but they have to be carefully applied, and then checked once caulk dries.
    mastic is best seal for duct & return air sealing.
    cans of foam come last on my list due to lack of control of
    product, and shrinkage of foam.

    with more info we can understand better what is going
    on in your home. sorry that you are having these issues.

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

  9. #9
    Thank you for your advice. You actually got me thinking about our horribly dusty attic. Our home is a cape cod style and the attic is accessible thru a bedroom and is at the side of the house but it is in dire need of a cleaning. I actually have never stepped IN to it except to carefully look around. There are ducts that go thru there as well as various pipes, bath vent etc. I have already contacted our air quality guy and we are going to consider this as our next step. Wish he would've suggested it himself tho after I showed it to him the first time. Thanks again for the tip! I am also going to have him inspect all the duct work as you suggested.

  10. #10
    Had been using dehumidifiers which helped greatly with the dust, mold, irritation, HOWEVER now that we have the water redirection system in the basement (water is allowed in through weep holes at bottom of walls and drained to a sump pump thru a french drain...well, the dehumidifiers seems to keep pulling all this water into the air making it musty smelling. When we turned them off, the system worked much better, however, then we have the higher RH...almost sure it is over 50%.

  11. #11
    energy rater la...thank you for all the info!!! I will need some time to go thru all that and will get back with you. I appreciate your help!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,065
    Quote Originally Posted by CarolinaDawn View Post
    Had been using dehumidifiers which helped greatly with the dust, mold, irritation, HOWEVER now that we have the water redirection system in the basement (water is allowed in through weep holes at bottom of walls and drained to a sump pump thru a french drain...well, the dehumidifiers seems to keep pulling all this water into the air making it musty smelling. When we turned them off, the system worked much better, however, then we have the higher RH...almost sure it is over 50%.
    It is critical to maintain <50%RH especially in cool basement/crawlspace spaces. Low %RH prevents the mold spore that are everywhere from growing. Not operating dehumidifiers because of the large amounts of moisture they remove from the air is not benefical. Filtered fresh air ventilation is also an important part of the indoor air quality you are trying to maintain in your home.

    Regard TB
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  13. #13
    thanks teddy bear. I guess it is hard to explain. The dehumidifiers are not only pulling moisture from the air at this point but are also pulling up all the moisture that is running thru our floors on its way to our sump pump. This is caused a horribly damp, dank feeling in the basement and since the water was not being allowed to go ahead and travel its intended path, the dehumidifiers hardly ever shut off even when I set them at 40%. I am not sure what to do about that. It smells so much better now, but I do worry about mold growth. It is a dilemma. The mold treatment should do its job. All surfaces have been treated and sealed with a mild antifungal that has a 10 yr warranty...if humidity kept below 50% tho :/

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