Home fix-ups can release renovation dust into a home’s air. The dust can spread throughout your home, making cleanup difficult. And the dust even can cause respiratory distress. What to do to protect your home and family…

  • Isolate the work area. Hang fire-resistant, clear six-mil-thick polyethylene sheeting to separate the area under renovation from the rest of the home, or ask contractors to do so. Expect to pay about $100 for a 20-foot-by-100-foot roll at a home center.

“Zipper tape”—a zipper designed to adhere to plastic sheeting—is an effective way to seal the entrance to the work area. It typically costs $10 to $20 in home centers.

Helpful: The extending pole system ZipPole allows plastic sheeting to be hung without stapling or taping to walls and ceilings (800-718-2255, www.ZipWall.com, $130.99 for a four-pole system on Amazon.com).

Use plastic sheeting to create an enclosed walkway from the work area to the nearest exit, too. If that’s impractical, at least place an adhesive doormat by the work-area exit to collect dust from shoes. Products include Pro Tect Floor Protection Surface Mats (800-545-0826 www.Pro-Tect.com, $58 for two 30-sheet mats) and 3M Dirt Catcher Super Sticky Mat (one 15-sheet mat for less than $30 on Amazon.com).

  • Create negative air pressure. Place an exhaust fan in a work-area window. Aim it outward so that it pulls air from the work area to the outdoors. This prevents airflow from circulating work-area dust to the rest of the home—the airflow will move in the other direction.
  • Cover carpets. If there’s carpeting in the renovation area, cover it with Pro Tect’s Carpet Protection Film (800-545-0826, www.Pro-Tect.com, $44 for a 2-foot-by-200-foot roll). Otherwise, dust from the renovation will settle in the carpet, where it becomes a long-term problem. All vacuuming during renovation and cleanup should be done with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum.

Warning: Basic plastic sheeting does not adequately protect carpets during renovations—workers’ feet are likely to pull it out of place.

  • Protect your home’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. Do not operate your home’s duct system during a renovation unless the registers and grilles—the openings where air is released from or returned to the duct system—in the work area have been completely covered by plastic sheeting or aluminum foil that is securely taped in place with removable tape. Otherwise, dust from the renovation will get into the ducts, where it could cause long-term air-quality issues. Renovation dust such as sawdust could encourage the growth of mold inside the HVAC system.

Also, radiators and baseboard convectors in the work area should be covered with plastic during renovations. After renovations, vacuum the radiators (use a crevice tool if needed) and the baseboard convectors. For dusty “fin” tubing in the baseboards, use compressed air or a steam vapor machine to clear away any dust that got past the sheeting.

Helpful: If heating or cooling is needed in the work area, rent portable heaters or a window air-conditioning unit.

Related Articles