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  1. #1
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    Question Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Hi

    I am a home owner who lives in Missouri and I am asking a question for my sister who lives in Las Vegas Nevada.

    In Las Vegas some HVAC systems are in the attic, as is her system. Recently she had a HVAC inspection /service and the HVAC guy said her attic had a lot of dirt/dust in it, it is a 3 year old home. As you probably know, that part of the country has a lot of wind and dust. It appears that when they have a dust storm the dust is being blown in through her Gable vents.

    I would like to know if anybody has any insight /solution to this problem?

    Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks
    albanello

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    I would like to know if anybody has any insight /solution to this problem?
    Never heard of that being as issue.
    All I can think of would be to install some sort of filtration system at all vent openings. You'd probably have to add more, or larger vent openings, because the filters will reduce airflow.
    An issue with installing filters would be that they would need to be replaced frequently. If a homeowner forgot, they'd end up with some problems.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Soffit and roof vents could be used rather than gable vents. The soffit vents would function as the intake with air flowing up at a slower speed than the straight path afforded by gable vents thus allowing larger dirt particles to drop out of the air stream much like a sediment trap on a gas line. The roof vents are designed as exhausts and would be likely to function as such most of the time. While this would not be a 100% solution, it would reduce the amount of dust entrance IMHO.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    This is common in the Phx area. On homes in new sub-divisions where they didn't landscape yet, and homes out in the desert, I've seen as much as 1/16" on top of furnaces, and insluation on one year old homes.
    If there's dust it's gonna get in.

    The common complaint I hear after a dust storm is, Excuse the dust, I cannot believe I dusted yesterday, today I can write my name on the dust that collected on the countertops and furnature.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

  5. #5
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Harris View Post
    This is common in the Phoenix area. On homes in new sub-divisions where they didn't landscape yet, and homes out in the desert, I've seen as much as 1/16" on top of furnaces, and insulation on one year old homes.
    If there's dust it's gonna get in.

    The common complaint I hear after a dust storm is, Excuse the dust, I cannot believe I dusted yesterday, today I can write my name on the dust that collected on the counter tops and furniture.
    You need a tighter home and never open the doors


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Thank You

    Dan Harris:
    You live in Mesa Az sound like you have a very similar situation. What do people do in your area. I can't believe they just let it pile up. Any help would be appreciated. As I said I live in Missouri so I can't go to her house and see the problem.

    Jim Luttrall:
    Are you suggesting a power vent in the roof or a exaust fan in the gabel vent? I don't know if she has soffet vents. The house has a , I belive it's call, tile roof. There common in the area.

    Brandon Whitmore:
    I was thinking of a filtration system also. Do you know if there is something like that on the market?

    Thanks again
    albanello


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Albanello View Post
    Thank You

    Dan Harris:
    You live in Mesa Az sound like you have a very similar situation. What do people do in your area. I can't believe they just let it pile up. Any help would be appreciated. As I said I live in Missouri so I can't go to her house and see the problem.

    Thanks again
    albanello
    Other than controling the dust around your own home with landscaping, there's not much that can be done. As far as dust in the attic, it just piles up on the flat surfaces and settles in the insulation.
    I guess filters on the gable vents may help. I've never seen it done.
    I have seen people put AC filters in the gas appliance combustion air vents on the exterior garage walls, after a few weeks they are plugged full of dirt.

    As far as dust on the interior, just keep the AC/Heating filters clean, and keep the door and weather strippings sealed.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    I have seen where the attic is seal off from the outside world , then part of the furnace ducts are used to heat and cool it and u will need to insulat the roof area too


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by mike huntzinger View Post
    I have seen where the attic is seal off from the outside world , then part of the furnace ducts are used to heat and cool it and u will need to insulat the roof area too
    Pulte tried that on a couple local subdivisions 5-6 years ago. The attics were cool in the summer and were cleaner .
    Feed back from customers, the electric bills were higher than projected.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

  10. #10
    Daniel Leung's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Dust in attic, I never think it is a problem.
    Why not vacuum or cover it! Same as your cleaning in the house.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Albanello View Post
    Thank You

    Jim Luttrall:
    Are you suggesting a power vent in the roof or a exaust fan in the gabel vent? I don't know if she has soffet vents. The house has a , I belive it's call, tile roof. There common in the area.
    Thanks again
    albanello
    No
    See this link to explain static vents and power vents.
    Static and Power Roof Vents - Roof Helper
    I never recommend power vents, especially power gable vents.

    I would think any gable vent would allow large volumes of fast moving (wind driven) air to carry large amounts of dirt/dust into the attic.
    There are static vents available for use on tile roofs.


    Soffit vents are described in this link
    How To & Help - Installing Soffit Vents, how to install a soffit vent

    Given you seems to be talking about dust and not blowing sand or dirt, nothing is going to be fool proof but a large amount of ventilation openings to provide slow velocity would seem to be the smartest move. With the air inlet at the underside of the roof (soffit) would give the greatest chance for larger solids to drop out as the air flows upward.

    I would personally not use wind turbines nor power vents in your situation. Multiple static vents would be my choice to let the hot air out of the attic at the top of the roof.

    Last edited by Jim Luttrall; 11-28-2010 at 05:51 PM.
    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Leung View Post
    Dust in attic, I never think it is a problem.
    Why not vacuum or cover it! Same as your cleaning in the house.
    Were talking about dust that will shut highways down for miles due to 0 visabilty. Dust that will trash/ turn a swimming pool brown in 10-15 min. Kinda like your blizards but dust instead of snow.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Harris View Post
    Pulte tried that on a couple local subdivisions 5-6 years ago. The attics were cool in the summer and were cleaner .
    Feed back from customers, the electric bills were higher than projected.

    If done correctly, the higher electric bills will not really be that much higher, and, in fact, with just a little extra insulation above and beyond what they would normally install would likely actually lower the electric bills.

    With dust blowing around as you describe, to me the *only* viable solution would be to seal the attic and insulate the underside of the roof decking ... but it must be done as a "system" and not just "let's try this, and maybe do this, and maybe this" as that could give you poor results or cause unexpected things to happen.

    The entire house is a "system" and needs to be treated that way.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  14. #14

    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Brandon Whitmore:
    I was thinking of a filtration system also. Do you know if there is something like that on the market?
    Sorry, I do not.


  15. #15
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    Unhappy Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Hi all

    My title says "Dirt blowing in the attic....." I mistakenly used the word dust in some of my posts. Post #12 by Dan Harris describes the enviorment. It is normally not that bad but it can be extreamly windy with a lot of Dirt/Sand blowing in the air. Their house backs up to BLM (Federal Land) land which is desert so they can not control the dust with land scaping. Vacuming the attic is not a realistic solution.

    Other people must have the same problem. I'm disappointed there is not a standard solution for this problem.

    Thanks anyway for all your responces
    albanello


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Hi everyone

    James Risley:
    Sounds like a idea, is there something like that on the market. As I said I live in Mo and and my sister lives in Las Vegas. I don't think my sister would be able to put something like that togeather or feel confident someone she would hire would be able to either. If this system is already on the market that's a different story.

    Thanks for your suggestion
    albanello


  17. #17
    Steve Lowery's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    I lived in El Paso Tx. '59-'62 and would collect the fine dust that came in through unseen openings aroud the windows. After a few days of this i would have enough to cover the top of my footlocker 1/2 '' deep to make a play area for my toy soldiers. The stuff was so fine that it was like flour or cement.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Albanello View Post
    Hi everyone

    James Risley:
    Sounds like a idea, is there something like that on the market. As I said I live in Mo and and my sister lives in Las Vegas. I don't think my sister would be able to put something like that togeather or feel confident someone she would hire would be able to either. If this system is already on the market that's a different story.

    Thanks for your suggestion
    albanello
    Here are some shutters you could install on the inside of the vents. You could put them on a wall switch or on a wind control as suggested above.


    Motorized Dampers - Ventilation - HVACR - Grainger Industrial Supply


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Get you sister to findout what everyone else in her area does about the dust. This would be the most logical step. Stopping windblown dust/dirt/sand is virtually impossible in a home that is built with a ventilated attic.

    About the only solution I can think of would be to seal the attic and make it part of the conditioned airspace in the home. This would require insulating the attic area(rafters, joist, walls and decking) with icynene foam Icynene® Spray Foam Insulation & Air Barrier Material – Energy Smart Foam Insulation. It is not cheap but it would seal the attic areas from the outside elements. This is not a DYI job, it must be done by a professional insulation company that knows what they are doing.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Frank,
    The others have provided a few paths to take.
    Here are some research facts directly related to your sister's region as well as other studies. http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...ummary-article
    hth

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
    Commercial-Residential-Construction-EIFS-Infrared Thermography
    life is the random lottery of events followed by numerous narrow escapes

  21. #21
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by BARRY ADAIR View Post
    Frank,
    The others have provided a few paths to take.
    Here are some research facts directly related to your sister's region as well as other studies. http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...ummary-article
    hth
    Great info Barry

    Thanks


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Ideally you want the air coming in the soffit vents and exiting up high. This would slow the air stream allowing heavier particles to drop to the ground. This would not eliminate all the dust though.

    Making the attic semi-conditioned space might lower utility bills. HVAC systems in the attic are subject to high temps that affect the efficiency. Also any leaks are from high/low pressure of the system, thus greater than natural pressure differentials. On the high pressure side air leaks from the ducts are from the air leaving the furnace, the conditioned air. With a sealed attic the air leaks are within the house and not outside of the thermal envelope.

    Open or closed cell foam is expensive and would take a long time to recoup the investment. It probably would not make sense as a retrofit.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Hronek View Post
    Ideally you want ...
    To seal the attic up and install the foam insulation on the underside of the roof deck - just like several of us keep saying.

    Open or closed cell foam is expensive and would take a long time to recoup the investment. It probably would not make sense as a retrofit.
    Absolutely DOES make sense as a retrofit.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    You may be able to use cellulose and install to an R 60 and get better bang for the buck. Many of the spray foam guys install a lower R value and claim that the air seal makes it a higher effective R value. If the top plates and other leaks were sealed it would be cheeper to pile on more insulation.

    To foam you are talking about the underside of the roof deck and the gable ends. More SF than the attic floor. Closed cell at R6 per inch you are looking at 8-10 inches. With open cell you are around R3.5 per inch or 15 inches.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Dirt Blowing in attic.....Solution?

    Thanks for all your ideas

    James Duffin:
    Thank for the link. Could be part of a solution/system.

    Scott Patterson:
    She is looking into it on here end. Sealing the attic and making it a conditioned space sounds like a good idea but is probably the most expensive.

    BARRY ADAIR:
    Thanks for the Link........ it is going to take me some time to digest. Great info.

    Robert Hronek:
    soffit air stream sounds like a good idea coupled with power exaust and motorize louvers seams like a solution also


    All I need now is a company, that is qualified to do the solution. I would like a company that has the solution and has implemented the solution many time already.

    All the information/ideas will be very usefull when/if I find a company, so I can evaluate there propose solution.

    Thanks again for all your idea.
    albanello

    Last edited by Frank Albanello; 11-30-2010 at 07:11 AM. Reason: spelling correction

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