LESLIE: Jim in Illinois, what can we do for you today?
JIM: Hello. Yeah, I have a question about something that’s going on in my kitchen and that is getting kind of a dust or dirt or some kind of residue on my kitchen ceiling and it seems to pretty much follow the ceiling joist; almost like they’re magnetized to dirt or something like that.
TOM: Jim, do you burn a lot of candles in your house, by any chance?
JIM: Well, no. No more than anyone else.
TOM: Well now, OK. Let’s – the way you responded it sounds like you do burn a few. What you’re describing is basically dirt – or it could be carbon from candles or other things that you burn or even from the cooking – collecting on the ceiling joist and the reason it’s doing that is because the ceiling joists are a different temperature than the drywall that surrounds it; they’re colder. And so as the warm, moist and dirty air washes and rubs against the ceiling, it leaves its dirt in the areas where the moisture condenses more, which is the bottom of the joist. That’s why you’re seeing those stripes. Now, what you can do about this, the ceiling above it – is there a second floor?
JIM: No, it’s a ranch.
TOM: OK. So what you can do is, first of all, go above it and make sure you insulate this ceiling carefully. I want you to insulate it between the floor joists and also insulate across the top of the floor joists with another layer. This is going to warm that up and stop the condensation – the sort of strategic condensation. Secondly, let’s talk about your air quality. Look at the kind of filtration system that you have in the house. Do you have an HVAC system? Is it a forced-air system that’s heating this house?
TOM: I want you to put in a good-quality air cleaner. I prefer that it’s one that’s designed for the whole house, as opposed to one that’s like a fiberglass filter. One that – like a whole-house air cleaner like an Aprilaire or something like that would be very, very effective here. And those two things working together are going to reduce this problem dramatically.
JIM: OK. Now, when you talk about an air cleaner, would just a higher-quality air filter in the furnace …
TOM: It would be better but I would rather you have an electronic air cleaner which is going to be a lot more effective. It has a lot more filtration space.
LESLIE: Well, and an electronic air cleaner is going to filter out a lot more fine and smaller particulates that could be causing respiratory problems; that could be causing dust to form in the house; it gets rid of odor, pet dander, allergens. They’re more effective because they’re just more powerful and the filter systems themselves are highly thicker and a lot more fabric so they really do a good job of trapping everything.
JIM: OK, thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call right now with your home improvement question.