LESLIE: Alright, well now we’re going to try to help Mark in Texas solve the case of the mysterious gray dust in the house.
Where do you see this dust, Mark?
MARK: Well, I see it pretty much everywhere; you know, on the furniture, around the door frame. I just dusted everything and right now I’m dust-free.
MARK: But I don’t know whether if it’s coming from the dryer, if it’s coming from the carpet, if it’s coming from – you know, where is it coming from.
LESLIE: So it magically appeared and then it cured itself?
MARK: Well, I don’t think it cured itself. I just think over time it’s going to surface again because I was dusting once a week and it wasn’t like just a thin coat of dust; it was kind of thick. I mean you could see it and if you go two weeks, then it’s really bad.
TOM: What kind of a heating system do you have, Mark?
MARK: It’s central air. I don’t know what …
TOM: OK, it’s a forced-air system. Alright.
TOM: Now do you have a filter on that system that you change regularly?
MARK: I have it on the return that I change regularly.
TOM: OK, and what kind of filter is it? Is it one of the – like the 1-inch-thick fiberglass filters?
MARK: Yes sir.
TOM: Alright. You can do yourself a really big favor and cut way back on your cleaning by replacing that very thin fiberglass filter with an electronic air cleaner. An electronic air cleaner is probably going to cost you from $300 to $500 installed. It is super, super, super efficient. And some of the newest ones take out even virus-sized particles. Because every time your heating system or your cooling system runs, the air in the house is being run through the duct system and across the return duct and those fiberglass filters take out everything that’s bigger than a rock. Otherwise … (Mark chuckles)
LESLIE: But everything smaller gets in and actually hinders how the system functions.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right, exactly.
MARK: Right. OK.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. So you do yourself a big favor by replacing that with an electronic air cleaner that’s more efficient.
LESLIE: And it will help you to not almost ever have to dust in your house. It’s so amazing. I know after like three months, the dust just stops settling. It’s fantastic.
MARK: Wow. That’s excellent. But I don’t see any dust coming out of the air conditioning vents or the vents or anything. I don’t …
TOM: Well, you wouldn’t see it because it comes out in such small, fine particles and gets airborne and takes many hours to settle.
MARK: Oh, I see. So we won’t see it collecting on the vents or anything.
TOM: No, you wouldn’t see it there because that’s in the air stream.
MARK: I got you.
TOM: Sometimes you’ll see dark marks right above the ducts …
TOM: … and that’s because the walls are usually cold and the air inside your house is warm and moist. And so you get condensation where the warm, moist, and somewhat dirty or dusty air strikes the cold wall surface and condenses above the duct space and sometimes that leaves dark marks above the ducts and sometimes you’ll even – you can even – it appears that you see ghosting on the walls where you can see where the studs are because they’re cooler than the rest of the wall.
But all of those conditions can be eliminated if you have a really good filtration system in your house. And as homes are being built tighter and tighter and tighter, it becomes more important to maintain the air quality inside your house and a good-quality electronic air cleaner is a good way to do that.
You might want to take a look at the website for Aprilaire. It’s Aprilaire.com. They make a unit – I think it’s called the Model 5000 – that got the Consumer Reports award as the best one in the country for about two years in a row now.
MARK: Oh, OK. Great. Now is that the same or would it be the same as a dehumidifier?
TOM: No, that’s different. A dehumidifier takes moisture out of the air.
MARK: OK, so it won’t do anything for dust or anything?
TOM: No, a dehumidifier will have no impact on dust. It just takes the moisture out of the air.
MARK: I was trying to kill two birds with one stone. (Tom laughs)
LESLIE: Both are equally important but they won’t do the same thing.
MARK: I got you. Alright, then.
TOM: You know, in Texas, one of the products that’s become more popular the last couple of years is a new technology, kind of dehumidifier; it’s called a whole-home dehumidifier or a whole-house dehumidifier. You know, typically, dehumidifiers are portable appliances that you leave on the first floor or in the basement and they run and fill up a little pan with water. But a whole-home dehumidifier is more of a professionally-installed appliance that fits, again, near that return duct. It’s actually much more efficient at taking out moisture than one of the portables or even more efficient when you turn your air conditioning on. In fact, a whole-home dehumidifier can take out something along the lines of 11 gallons of water a day from the air inside your house.
TOM: Alright, so those are the two things you want to look at: a whole-home dehumidifier and an electronic air cleaner. Sounds like you need to spend a little bit of money on your HVAC system and get it up to snuff and that ought to make you a lot cleaner and more comfortable inside that house. OK, Mark?
MARK: That’ll be great. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.