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Community and Q&A

Healthy air quality without central air

Kevin McGuire | Posted in General Questions on

two part question. We do not have a furnace, central air unit in our home. I would like to have a healthy environment for some of our friends with asthma related issues and sensitivities. They have experienced asthmatic reactions strongly when at our house. I would also like to improve air quality especially for our baby’s sake. Abd I should mention we are amidst a major home renovation with lots of dust, and fumes and chemicals which I try to limit as best I can.

i live in 4c, no central conditioning unit, no whole house fan. Just electrical heat, and a natural gas fireplace and some bathroom fans. One story home 1600 sq.ft.

im wondering where a good place to start would be. Would an air purifier be a good starting point? And what would b a good long term goal to save toward? We do prefer not to have ducting, but will consider any option really long term.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Start by reading these three articles:

    "All About Indoor Air Quality"

    "All About Air Purifiers"

    "Housing and Human Health"

    In general, you shouldn't seek medical advice from this forum. People with asthma who have reactions or symptoms should seek advice from a doctor.

    From my perspective, it isn't surprising that someone with asthma would feel sick in a house "with lots of dust, and fumes and chemicals."

  2. Expert Member
    Zephyr7 | | #2

    About the best you can probably do is to partition off the construction areas with polyethylene sheets, taped as best as you can to seal them. You can get air filters for the occupied areas. Don’t get a fancy “air purifier”, what you want is a filter with a cartridge and a fan. Honeywell makes some round HEPA filters that can help with some allergens so I’d look at those. Ventilating the construction areas with outside air helps limit how much dust and fumes will enter your home, but you need that ventilation running ALL the time. If you have the ability to maintain the occupied areas at a slight positive pressure with respect to the construction areas (such as by setting up a fan in a window to blow into the house from outdoors), that will also help to keep stuff from entering the occupied areas from the construction areas.

    Martin is right too — If you have people in your house with special sensitivities it might be best for them to stay somewhere else while the work is being done. Ask a doctor about any special concerns and tell them what you’re using on your project. Of particular concern is the dust source (drywall dust, sawdust, anything from cutting products that contain silicates), and any solvents you’re using (cleaners, paint, etc).


  3. Balazs_F | | #3

    you may want to consider adding temporary air supply to the house while the construction is ongoing to keep the occupied areas positively pressurized. this will keep dust and fumes out of these spaces. even a small ERV ducted to an operable window with cardboard or styrofoam inserts would do the trick.

  4. Tom May | | #4

    Having dry electric heat doesn't help. Perhaps a humidifier to catch and settle dust may help. Opening windows to let fresh air in helps. Not using chemical cleaners helps. Plants to filter air and add humidity helps. Exhaust fans during construction helps......and Martin's last statement.

  5. Josh Durston | | #5

    Running a exhaust fan constantly in the construction area really help with dust migration. If the space is under constant negative pressure it's amazing good the containment is. You can get an inline fan and use some flex duct. I just demo'd a plaster wall in my house and used a shop vac sitting outside with about 20 ft of hose into my work area to keep the dust under control. I hung poly sheets off the wall and ceilings to limit unwanted air movement.

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