Q&A / 

Dust Source in House Dust Nightmare

Quick Column Summary:

  • Is dust in house coming from ductwork
  • What is creating the dust
  • Most dust gets in through air cracks near doors/windows

Denis has a dusty house in California's Central Valley. He lives in Merced, CA. That's a clue by the way.

Here's what Denis sent me:

"Hey Tim,

I have the dustiest house on earth and I mean dust. We dust every week and the dust is so fine that it even gets into the cupboards, drawers, even my gun safe.

I have just about done all that I can think of and I can't get it to stop. So after doing a lot of reading about my problem, I have decided that it is coming from the air ducts in my attic.

My question is how do I check for leaks in the ducts?"

I don't know that I agree with Denis' autopsy on the situation. Here's my reply:

Denis, the FIRST thing I would do is determine what is the real source of the dust. Something is turning into a powder and what is it?

For example, some dust problems in houses are caused by paper being handled.

Back at my last house, we had a dust problem in our basement because we handled bags of soda ash that was blended with my Stain Solver product.

Some dust comes from rocks - yes, rocks.

Some dust comes from truck and car tires.

See my point? Your dust MAY be getting into your house from your air conditioning ductwork, but the ductwork is NOT CREATING the dust.

You need to get a 10X Hastings triplet magnifier, or something even more powerful and try to look at the dust and determine what it's from.

Since you're in the great Central Valley, I'm willing to bet that your dust is from rocks - ordinary soil dust.

I'll bet you'll then discover the dust is entering the house via air leaks around your windows, doors and other cracks in your home where air is leaking in.

Four years ago, I was on a road trip in the Southwest and we stopped at Monument Valley. There were miniature dust dunes at all the hotel window sills and lower corners of the exterior doors where fine dust was making it past the weatherstripping in the new windows and doors.

You need to realize that doors and windows in all homes LEAK air. They're not sealed like submarine windows and doors. Not by a long shot.


3 Responses to Dust Source in House Dust Nightmare

  1. Re: Denis' Dust. Don't treat this problem lightly. In college I did a report on Coccidioidomycosis, ergo Valley Fever, caused by blowing spores from old burial sites and prevalent in the San Joaquin Valley. It has the symptoms of pneumonia and can be deadly.

  2. An HVAC company looking at my home to quote a new heat pump asked if we had a dust problem. I said yes. He said it comes from the attic insulation which is made of paper. He said I need to seal the gap between the a/c vent and the air duct nozzle. He said they could do it but their price is high. Said its a simple job and I could do it. So far I have not gotten to it but am convinced he is right.

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