According to “This Old House” magazine HVAC expert Richard Trethewey, not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask him the question: “Why is my house always so dusty?” This is especially confounding for clean freaks who obsess over every dust speck.
Trethewey’s usual response is, “I can’t tell you exactly why your house is dusty, but I know which suspects are the most common: filters and duct work.”
Is the answer this simplistic? Not exactly, which is why we’ve done research on your behalf and deliver specific diagnoses that can help you keep things as dust-free as possible.
Summary of Reasons Why the House is Dusty
- Carpet Floors and Rugs
- AC and furnace filters are clogged
- Dry dusting instead of wet dusting
- Leaks from air ducts
- Outside dust moves inside easily
- The “corner phenomenon”
Reason #1: The culprits are your floors and rugs
There’s likely some explanation understood by physicists for the reason your rugs, floors and upholstery are prime dust recipients, but it probably comes down to two simple explanations: the sheer expanse of these surfaces and the addition of soil you drag home on your shoes.
Plenty of contractors suggest eliminating wall-to-wall carpeting altogether because it collects massive amounts of dust mites and allergens.
If carpet is a must, skimping on the purchase of a quality vacuum because a cheaper one is on sale is a very unwise idea if you want to keep dust levels down.
Further, steam cleaning these surfaces twice a year is a habit you should adopt. Finally, even expensive furnishings upholstered in textiles woven with synthetic fibers may be dust magnets, so if you have a choice, pick a natural fabric coverings for your home.
Reason #2: Your AC and furnace filters are clogged and dirty
Homeowners whose hectic lives require whiteboards, chalkboards and downloaded apps to keep track of services that help them keep track of regular maintenance tasks don’t always keep tabs on the condition of their filters.
Filters stop dust and dirt from getting into the inner workings of everything from your vacuum to your HVAC system.
Inexpensive spun-fiberglass filters are great at stopping huge chunks of dust and soil from getting into home heating and cooling systems, but they do nothing to improve the quality of the air that circulates around the premises.
Instead, shop for pleated filters that are recommended specifically for your system’s blower capacity and then change them as soon as you notice a build-up of dust and soil.
Reason #3: Are you using the right tool for the right job?
Do you dust using a dry tool rather than a wet one? It’s time to step into the 21st Century and retire the feather duster and rug beater your grandma used to rid household surfaces and items of dust.
There are plenty of products on today’s market that offer wet dusting alternatives, but if you would rather invest your money in better filters rather than adding to the nation’s burgeoning landfills, wet rags remain the cheapest, most efficient way of banishing dust because you can toss them into the washer and dryer and re-use them.
Reason #4: Your air ducts could be leaking
Just because you’ve got a new HVAC system, that doesn’t mean it’s leak proof. Around 20-percent of leaks are caused by tiny gaps in fittings that network duct work components.
Alternately, unsealed joints can be the culprit, even if you’ve got the world’s best forced-air system. Don’t guess and wait. Invest in a pressure test to find out if you’re imagining things or if your suspicions are accurate.
Sure, you can wrap a leaky area with a roll of duct tape, but duct tape isn’t made for long-term repairs. It can dry out fast and your original problem will return. The contractor diagnosing your leak likely has a better solution for sealing leaks and it costs nothing to ask about having this service performed if the price is right.
Reason #5: Outside dust moves into your home
Given the natural amount of dust that sneaks into your home via your HVAC system, you may think that it’s the only reason that your dust job is never-ending, but in fact, Mother Nature is also a big dust contributor.
Keeping windows open on beautiful days is an irresistible action, and you may be willing to accept some dust for blowing your curtains gently in the breeze, but this will always be a trade-off.
Living in an urban area or very close to the street makes your home more vulnerable to outside dust (and noise) and if anyone on the block is renovating a home, you can count on some of their construction dust landing on your surfaces if you’re in close proximity to this project.
Dare we mention the fact that the dog or kitty bed your pet relies upon for naps, comfort and snuggling can become the biggest magnet of all for dust?
Reason #6: What’s math got to do with it?
Having considered all of the aforementioned causes and vowing to make the changes necessary to cut back on your home’s dust, you still can’t escape the “corner phenomenon.” According to mathematicians at the Stack Exchange, dust gravitates to corners because, “Air blows around the room, which constitutes a vector field.”
Even uniformly-distributed dust particles intuitively roam over to corners and pile up because, it seems, vortices are attracted to those areas for mysterious reasons. You can start every dusting job by focusing on corners and face this mathematical challenge head on, or just capitulate and admit that there are some areas of science and math that may never offer a logical explanation when dust is the subject!
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