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White Dust Problem

Q. We have a relatively new 3 year old ranch home with a difficult white dust problem. We change filters regularly and have had the complete furnace cleaned. We also clean and vacuum often, but we cannot get rid of dust. Would electronic filters help? We are concerned about breathing the air. Do you know of any solutions?

A. The white dust you describe may be from several sources and also may be a little bit from each. If there is any carpet in the house there will inevitably be dust from foot traffic which usually shows up as "white dust". Opening the windows for changing the air in the house, and spring and summer breezes are a substantial source of dust as well.

Another small source is from paper products used in the home, typically toilet paper and facial tissue. If your household uses a lot of paper products there is an increase of dust. Some households have reported that changing brands of toilet paper can substantially reduce white dust. Softer tissues and toilet papers tend to have more "fuzzies" released with each dispensing use.

The most probable and largest source is from your heating and air conditioning system. Your ductwork may be a large contributing factor. The joints at each connection of metal ductwork is not usually taped or fully sealed and draws a vacuum (negative pressure) on the air around it. This negative pressure with many intake points at each joint is like a huge vacuum cleaner picking up air in many dusty places and then it depends on the air filter the remove these particles. These intake points, each joint in the ductwork, take in whatever dust is around it.

The HVAC systems are usually in dusty basements in homes. I advise a pleated, passive air filter or a second choice of electronic air cleaner. I suggest you seal the joints in your ductwork and install a pleated type passive filter on your system. Sealing the ductwork system in the house can improve energy efficiency by as much as 30%.

I invite you to contact my company for a blower door test and a duct blaster test and tap into our "healthy house" experience and indoor air quality knowledge. The Mosby Energy Audit will reveal many ways to solve indoor air quality issues.

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