Living with remodeling projects is difficult for a host of reasons, including the construction dust, VOCs and other particles circulating throughout your home. Proactive prep can help minimize your cleaning after construction.
Use these tips to help improve your air while improving your space.
Start with minimizing the amount of dust created. Do your cutting and sanding outside, if possible. Mist surfaces and attach dust-collecting vacuums to saws and sanders, if not.
Since a certain amount of dust is inevitable, try to keep it from settling in or spreading. Use protective plastic sheeting to seal off all doorways and cover flooring. Close or cover any HVAC vents, and stock the space with a Filtrete™ Room Air Purifier with a True HEPA filter, which helps capture 99.97% of airborne particles*—construction dust included.
Use a high-quality furnace filter and change it weekly during big projects. Vacuum the space thoroughly after completion.
Paint, varnishes, adhesives, sealants, carpet, engineered wood and other construction materials off-gas pollutants known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be dangerous if you have health concerns. Here, too, prevention is key.
Let materials off-gas outside before installation. Consider low-VOC paint options—keeping in mind that none are completely pollutant-free—and re-seal containers immediately after use. Store unused and leftover materials in a well-ventilated space.
The goal: Keep polluted air moving away from the source and directly out of your home. To do so, secure a fan in a window to blow the air out and run continuously.
Note that the VOC off-gassing described above can continue for up to three days after installation. Up your ventilation efforts for that long, too.
Wetness doesn’t just harm your home, it fosters mold and bacteria growth that can harm your respiratory health. So whenever you uncover signs of moisture—peeling paint, condensation, discolored spots, dripping water or mold—don’t just deal with the damage, find the root cause and correct it.
Note: the EPA advises that if a mold problem takes up more than 3 ft. x 3 ft., you should hire a professional to remove it**.
For your well-being, avoid exposure to lead dust and asbestos. If your home was built before 1978, hire a lead inspector or get a lead paint test kit from a home store before disturbing it. If lead is present, leave any sanding or scraping to a lead-safe certified contractor.
And never touch or otherwise disturb asbestos. If you’re unsure if the work area contains asbestos, hire a trained and accredited asbestos professional to take samples for analysis.
*From the air passing through the filter media. Initial efficiency value.