Allergy Survival Guide to Remodeling

Allergy Survival Guide to Home Remodeling

allergies - hepa vacuum cleanerJust in case you are in any doubt, remodeling is extra stressful for allergy, asthma, sinusitis and MCS sufferers. Not only do we have to deal with the inconvenience of rooms of furniture under dustsheets, contractors who are running over time and budget, contractors ignoring our instructions or the specifications BUT the process is designed for most of us to make us PHYSICALLY SICK. Children, the elderly and the rest of us with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable. Three years ago this author, a remodeling veteran, decided it was easier on her health to move house.

Together with great deal of patience, fortitude and a number of products to be found in’s online store, you can preserve your health. Here are some survival tips to reduce the stress and preserve your health.

1. Spend as much time out of the house as possible. This means schedule your remodeling for the summer months.

2. If you are a “stay at home Mom” – find activities out of the house. Breathing in that dust and toxic fumes makes you sick.

3. If you have an asthmatic or allergic child, schedule them with lots of after school activities.

4. The bedrooms are the most important rooms in the house. We spend 8 hours a day in there. If they are not being remodeled-have your contractors tape up the doors each day to prevent dust from entering.

5. If you have forced hot air heating, close down the vents in your bedrooms during the day time.

6. Vacuum out the entry to the forced air heating system in your bedrooms on a daily basis.

7. Use very fine furnace filter material on the entry to your forced air heating system. This prevents a good deal of the dust from entering the bedrooms.

8. Use a high quality, completely sealed hepa vacuum on a daily basis to vacuum every inch of all bedrooms. Use a vacuum with on board tools to vacuum walls, crevices, furniture, floors. We recommend in particular the canister models from Miele and Eureka or the Eureka Sanitaire. Wear an allergy face mask as an extra precaution while you do the job.

9. Use a really good hepa filter in the bedroom and choose one which not only deals with particulates (the dust) but one which deals with toxic fumes. Top of the line models by Austin Air, Clarifier, AllerAir and IQAir are offered on the site. Have those filters going on high all day long. Turn them down to low at night so as not to be disturbed by the fan noise.

10. Try to remember to seal off your closets daily so your clothes remain dust free.

11. Open your windows for several hours a day but not during 5 to 10am in Pollen season. Get in that fresh air. Fresh air is much better than the toxic fumes of renovating materials! This is not the time to worry about heating bills.

12. Use a high quality electrostatic filter on your furnace or air conditioning system, or a pleated disposable filter and change weekly if needed during the remodeling process.

13. Wear an allergy face mask walking around your house in the day time to avoid the dust (forget feeling like a hypochondriac).

14. If your kitchen was remodeled, wash all your dishes afterwards and throw out any “open boxed” foods.

15. Talk to your contractor about using toxic free paints and varnishes. There are plenty on the market such as by Glidden, even available in places like Home Depot. MCS sufferers already know you may have to go to extra steps to find materials to which you do not react.

16. Doing the remodeling yourself? You are crazy, but wear a mask at all times and make sure your materials are toxic free. The mask is to help you not breathe in dust.

17. Make sure your contractors use your natural cleaning materials. Don’t even think of using the regular supermarket products. Plenty of good brands are available in your local health food store. Our favorite mail order natural cleaner product is “Lifetime” – a review from the August 1999 issue of Allergy Consumer Review.

18. Step up your vitamin and exercise program. Anything you can do to boost your immune system can only help.

19. Have your ducts cleaned after all the remodeling has finished and get a professional cleaning company to rid your house of every inch of dust – it is worth the expense after all the stress you have been through.

20. Read some of the articles in our Library, Paint Product Sheets is a useful one.

And finally spoken as someone who has been there – good luck!