How to Protect Indoor Air Quality When DIYing

Someone sweeping up dust and debris from a DIY project to protect the air quality.

Homeowners tackling indoor renovations would be wise to take steps to minimize contamination in their home from construction-related pollutants during the project. Indoor air quality is an important aspect of a healthy life. Dirt, dust, particles, and toxic fumes are associated with many indoor home improvement projects. Taking the right steps to reduce or eliminate the chances of contamination should be on the top of your to-do list before starting a project. The post below will lay out common practices you can enact to protect you and your home from construction contamination.

Dust Control

Many home renovation projects produce dust and other airborne particulates; it just comes with the territory. However, you can take steps to isolate contaminates in the work area and prevent them from spreading throughout your home.

  • Hang plastic sheeting in doorways and other openings when applicable to isolate the work area and to prevent the spread of airborne contaminates.
  • Keep your broom in the closet. Do not use your broom to clean up dust, saw dust, and other construction-related debris as it will launch the particles into the air. Use a high-quality vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter to clean up the mess. If you must sweep, apply a sweeping compound first to minimize the dust. Most home improvement centers stock the product.

HVAC Filters

An HVAC filter covered in dust.

During a home renovation project, it's imperative to change your HVAC filter before, during, and after the completion of the project. Changing the filter regularly will help to protect you, your family, home, and HVAC system from construction-generated dust and particles.

Avoid Asbestos

Asbestos contamination is a serious problem. Traditionally, asbestos was used in a wide variety of construction materials due to its fire-resistant properties. However, asbestos dust has since been labeled a carcinogen. If you suspect the presence of asbestos in your home, do not disturb it and contact an asbestos professional for removal. There are strict rules and regulations in place regarding asbestos removal and it must be removed and disposed of properly by licensed professionals. Contact your local health or building department for more information.

Proper Ventilation

Proper ventilation is a must during many home improvement projects. Painting, gluing, cleaning, and applying stain are just a few examples where ventilation is crucial to avoid health related issues from the fumes created during the process.

  • Open windows and doors when applicable to help ventilate the work area.
  • Utilize electric fans to exhaust the fumes and/or gases from your home.
  • Maintain adequate ventilation during and after installation of said materials for at least 72 hours or according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

Mold and Mildew

A man spraying mold on a wall.

When you discover mold or mildew during a renovation within your home, you must take steps to clean it up as well as the steps necessary to prevent its return. The presence of mold can lead to severe health problems, especially in folks susceptible to asthma or other respiratory problems.

  • Don protective gear and clean up the mold.
  • Since mold requires damp and/or wet conditions to thrive, identify the sources of the moisture and correct the problem. Leaky plumbing or an exterior wall minus a moisture barrier are often the culprits causing the mold and mildew growth.
  • Discard any materials—drywall, ceiling tiles, wood, household items—that have been irreversibly contaminated by the mold.
  • After steps have been taken to eliminate the damp, wet conditions, dry the area thoroughly before continuing the renovation project.
  • When you uncover large areas of microbial grow during a renovation project, you should consider hiring a professional experienced in mold removal and remediation.

Lead-Based Paint

If your home was built before 1978, chances are good there is a presence of lead-based paint. Lead dust poses a serious health concern, especially in children. Scraping, sanding, or disturbing lead paint can create the dust and spread it throughout your home. If you suspect the presence of lead-based paint, you should consult with a professional before starting your home renovation project.