Dust protection tips from 942 and 937

Hi Neighbors:

I write to pass along a warning that came to me from thoughtful neighbors: As they near the end of the preparation of your courtyard to receive your new doors and windows, there will be a LOT of dust.

After you have been “plywooded in” and the old stuff has been removed, after a day or so the workers will come to smooth down the existing concrete and add filler where needed.

This stage is very dusty. And two things are important to keep in mind:

1. The plastic and plywood barriers that have been installed in your house–even with all that tape around the plastic–are leaky.

2. To deal with their dust problem, the workers use a large fan which is aimed at the guy doing the grinding. This brings him fresh air, but simultaneously it forces air TOWARD the interior of the house, and with that air will come dust. And the dust will come through all the leaks around the plywood barrier.

Being forewarned by thoughtful neighbors, I took some steps that were time-consuming and involved some expense, but definitely helped. Using the remains of the roll of plastic I had purchased long ago at Home Depot, and most of a roll of the widest blue tape they sell at Home Depot, I encased all of the plywood structures in another layer of plastic, taped directly to the wall.

I think it largely worked. There were still small plumes of dust that came in primarily at the floor level despite many layers of tape and paper. And as you would expect, the plastic ballooned out accordingly when they aimed the fan at different parts of the job. I took that as an indicator of success.

Of course almost everything in the house is already covered in plastic. But we did not notice much additional dust in the house after this process.

Maybe there’s another, better solution. I’ve suggested that the contractors actually use a fan system designed to suck air (and dust) away from the work site. But it is not up to me, and there are many considerations that I may not be aware of.

Forewarned is forearmed, I hope.


Hi everyone,
Another warning: the biggest problem we had with particulate matter was when they did the interior work filling in and finishing the walls around the new windows and doors. Leave all your plastic coverings on the furniture etc. in place for this phase and realize that anything near the doors and windows that is not covered will get sprayed, e.g. the frames of any pictures left hanging on nearby walls (though I found that this washes off). After this phase, the only way to restore your air quality is to carefully remove all the plastic coverings and vacuum like crazy (including walls). If you’re at all sensitive, I would suggest doing this as soon as they finish plastering the interior rather than waiting for the final phase (attaching the frames around the doors and windows), which doesn’t raise much dust.
Good luck,

About hmarcuse

I've been an environmentalist since my college days in the 1970s (May 1977 Seabrook, New Hampshire occupation) , and am now a professor of German history at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
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