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Dust Control in a Basement Shop

Q:

Is it possible to have a shop in my basement and still not have fine dust appear on everything upstairs? My garage gets below zero in winter.
—Lester Borja, Lansing, Ill.

A:

Start by containing the dust within your workshop, Lester. That means walling off the shop and installing a ceiling. Where air exits the shop, mount a furnace filter over the return air vent to trap dust in the outgoing air.

Next, connect your equipment to a dust collection system designed to trap particles down to 1 micron and smaller. This includes cyclone systems plus single-stage dust collectors, although some may require an aftermarket high-efficiency filter.

Even with the best dust collectors, you’ll still have to contend with airborne particles. So add an air cleaner capable of filtering all the air in your shop every 10 minutes. To determine how much cubic feet per minute (CFM) of airflow you need, multiply the length, width, and height of your shop, and divide that total by 10. Buying the next size larger than necessary helps the cleaner compensate for partially dirty filters. Don’t stop with concern over dust entering your house. Keep it out of your lungs, too, by wearing a tight-fitting respirator—no paper masks—rated to trap 95 percent or more of all airborne dust. 

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