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  1. #1

    More questions....still trying to resolve dust!

    Hello! Some of you are familiar with my previous posts of trying to resolve EXCESSIVE dust in a 1-yr-old home. I have followed much of your advice from the past, but the problem persists, so I am seeking more help.
    problem: dust accumulates within hours of cleaning (year-round)...LOTS of dust, in excess of normal house dust. 3 story house with 3 heating and air units, dust primarily on main floor. No carpet, hardwood floors with 1 area rug, leather furniture, no draperies.
    things we have done:
    *all ductwork has been thoroughly inspected and sealed after being diagnosed leaky (includes removing drywall ceiling to access ductwork of main unit)
    *ductwork has been vacuumed and does not appear to be the source as supply registers stay relatively clean
    *sealed all penetrations we could find from conditioned to unconditioned space (plumbing, electric, can lights, bath fans, attic accessses, even caulked below quarter-round baseboard trim)
    *We had a blower-door test that showed our infiltrations to be "within normal limits" even before some of our improvements (I know WNL doesn't tell you much, but I can't get the readings from our RECC who conducted the test.)
    Questions:
    *I am now considering make-up fresh air, but wonder if it would improve the dust problem. We have 2 direct-vent fireplaces, but they are very seldom used. We also seldom use the bath fans and have no kitchen fan. The water heater and heating and air units are electric except for gas conversion on main unit. We have a gas range-top. I do operate the electric clothes drier almost daily (dust accumulates even on the days I don't). Since we have few combustion products, I wonder would the make-up air be of benefit?
    *Now that our duct-work is well sealed, why isn't the air handler acting as a whole-house filter and eliminating the dust? We have a MERV 8 4" pleated filter that has been inspected and found not to have any bypass evident.
    *Just another thing I've noticed that I wonder if it is normal or might be a clue--our house holds quite a bit of heat. I keep the thermostat set on 76 and even on nights when the temperature drops 20 degrees, the house temp. never falls below 76.
    Thanks in advance for any help you may have!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    12,134
    Quote Originally Posted by leeannwc View Post
    *I am now considering make-up fresh air, but wonder if it would improve the dust problem. We have 2 direct-vent fireplaces, but they are very seldom used. We also seldom use the bath fans and have no kitchen fan. The water heater and heating and air units are electric except for gas conversion on main unit. We have a gas range-top. I do operate the electric clothes drier almost daily (dust accumulates even on the days I don't). Since we have few combustion products, I wonder would the make-up air be of benefit?
    MUA could provide a slightly positive pressure to the home. This would help with the infiltration that is causing your dust problems.
    *Now that our duct-work is well sealed, why isn't the air handler acting as a whole-house filter and eliminating the dust? We have a MERV 8 4" pleated filter that has been inspected and found not to have any bypass evident.
    Particles are too heavy and fall to surfaces before entering return air system.
    *Just another thing I've noticed that I wonder if it is normal or might be a clue--our house holds quite a bit of heat. I keep the thermostat set on 76 and even on nights when the temperature drops 20 degrees, the house temp. never falls below 76.
    Thanks in advance for any help you may have!!
    Not much wind at night. Your house is probably pretty well insulated. Home will hold temperature without the infiltration occurring. Probably doesn't hold temp too well on a windy night.
    Perhaps you should have read the instructions before calling.

  3. #3
    Thanks for your answers, Rob. That answers some of my questions. When I saw that you had posted I was afraid you were going to tell me Enough, Already...move on to another resource! I am quite distraught trying to fix this problem!
    I really don't think my dust is infiltration from the outside. The consistency is not like dirt, etc., but fibrous. We have sealed every nook and cranny and must have an above average tight home by now. I have family with much older/leaky homes that have no dust problem, so that puzzles me all the more. It appears to me that any dust carried in or generated in our home is staying in our home, just floating around. I can see it airborne all the time. It looks like we are just not getting any filtration.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    12,134
    Your home construction has been described to me. Simply put...you've a hole that nobody has found.

    This is where the infrared camera would be awfully handy. Have you had RECC there? One of those utilities has one. I presume you have high utility bills. RECC should be willing to help as they don't like power wasting homes.
    Perhaps you should have read the instructions before calling.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Northern Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,976
    Have you taken the dust to someone to have them identify just what it is? You seem to have spent a lot of energy and money trying to stop or remedy something you're not saying you even know exactly what it is. Just my opinion.
    Use the biggest hammer you like, pounding a square peg into a round hole does not equal a proper fit.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    I don't know
    Posts
    2,903
    Were the light fixture penetrations checked for leakage?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,914
    Your infiltration may be ok, or even low, but if most of your infiltration is from dirty insulation filled buffer zones, you will have problems.

    The blower door test needs to include more than just running the test. The blower door, in combination with smoke puffers and a thermal imager, is the ultimate package for pinpointing the source of leaks. You need someone performing the test that will actually go find the leaks, rather than just running the test and handing you a report.

    I recommend checking to see if you have a Comfort Institute member contractor in your area, preferably one that also does thermal imaging as part of the diagnostics. At the very least, all Comfort Institute member contractors have a blower door, smoke puffers and some degree of training in residential building diagnostics. http://comfortinstitute.org/member_locate.php

    You could also have room to room pressure imbalance problems, especially if you have central returns.

    You should try collecting a good sized sample of the fibrous material that makes up the dust and have it analyzed. Knowing what it is will help determine where it is coming from.
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by jrbenny View Post
    Your home construction has been described to me. Simply put...you've a hole that nobody has found.

    This is where the infrared camera would be awfully handy. Have you had RECC there? One of those utilities has one. I presume you have high utility bills. RECC should be willing to help as they don't like power wasting homes.
    RECC is who conducted our blower-door test. They have been out twice, but apparently didn't do a very professional or thorough job from what I am hearing here. Our utility bills are not high and they aren't very responsive to helping me any more. They have no interest in my dust problem, only energy consumption, of course.
    Our RH which we could not maintain at set levels when we first occupied the home now stays steady at the 42% we have targeted. Is that not an indication that infiltration is controlled?
    If not who in our area could do the testing you described?
    Are you thinking we have missed a hole from the attic or from the outside? Wouldn't the dust be "dirt" if it were from outside? The composition of the dust is looking a great deal like regular house dust that is just not moving through the system to be filtered. Do you know where we could have it analyzed? Definitive identification of the dust would probably prove helpful, but I've been unable to find anyone who does that.
    We hired a man to crawl through the attic sealing any penetrations he could find, but mind you this was digging through the blown-in insulation, so it would not be unlikely that something was missed. Interestingly, though, the dust does not seem as problematic on the upper floor. I also don't understand if all is sealed from the conditioned side where anything could be getting in.
    We are aware of our chimney being open to the outside--not the piping running from the firebox, but the stone surround. Could that be significant?
    I've wondered if some of the source of dust could be the "fake embers" in this fireplace if we have airflow through there.
    I really wish I could get some of you experts here to get to the bottom of it all. I am a year into this and making little progress despite tearing my house apart. It is not just an asthetics problem, but I have two small children bordering on asthma.
    Thank you again for all of your suggestions!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    971
    I f you don't have fiberglass ductwork then there is not a big health hazard.

    Every day living creates what you are looking at and for.

    Fabrics and people shed, ever notice how much lint comes out of the clothes dryer? make you wonder sometimes why the fabric isn't more threadbare and tattered.

    Active kids and lifestyles leave traces.

    Relax and go with the flow not against it. You won't win this one.


    Expect nothing, yet expect the unexpected.
    Press on Regardless, Endeavor to Persevere.

  10. #10
    The dust I am describing accumulates within hours. Hours after cleaning, it looks as though you've not cleaned in two weeks even when the house is not occupied. Any activity generates a cloud of dust quite visible to the naked eye. This is not normal levels of house dust we are dealing with. I can handle crumbs on the floor and fingerprints on the windows.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    The Gray Northwest
    Posts
    661
    "I have family with much older/leaky homes that have no dust problem, so that puzzles me all the more."
    What you stated above tells me that maybe your home is too tight. You've sealed it all so well, you are now living in a bubble. Not that I would advocate punching holes in your home or opening windows in extreme weather. But you have obviously taken great pains to keep everything out of your house accept for what your family creates inside.As mentioned by others, the internal environment can be as caustic as, or even more so than the outside environment. Dust mites, dead skin, fabrics, cooking aresols, etc. I would consider some form of an outside air source to mix with your return air. This may not reduce dust particulate but will improve the air quality in your home, which is a concern for your children.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    212
    Try a little bit of higher than normal positive pressure for a day or two just to see if anything is affected. Make sure you filter that air coming in really well as to not affect your experiment.

    I'm not a pro, so if it's unsafe to do so, maybe someone can point that out.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,261
    Tell us about your vacuum cleaner. Use and quality of the final filter are critical. Throurgh vacuuming with a hepa final filter is important in removing dust from a home. Most dust infiltrates from outside via air and on clothing. Central vac with outside discharge is best. Make-up air with good filtering is not sure fix. Living in high traffic areas, windy dusty conditions outside, and exposed earth from construction or farming also contribute. Anything that stirs settled dust also contributes. Kids/dogs are common sources of activity. 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"

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