Why is basement always dusty- Scientist Explains

Dusty basement is a problem that most homeowners struggle with every day, and in most cases, they are unable to keep the dust from building up in their basements. 

Accumulation of dust in your basement quickly becomes hygiene and health hazards, with dust polluting your air quality and dust mites quickly finding a home in your basement. This is followed by the accumulation of dust mite droppings, which decay and produce airborne particles that are unpleasant and can cause discomfort when visiting your basement.

So, why is the basement always dusty? Your basement is always dusty because the top layer of your concrete is soft, and in most cases, it can be easily scraped when friction is applied. Moist basements that lack a concrete sealant have more dust problems.

Why does my house get so dusty so fast?

Basement dusting is a widespread problem, and in most cases, refers to the formation of loose powder resulting from the disintegration of surface hardened concrete called dusting or chalking. The three main reasons that cause this disintegration on your basement floors are:

  • Bleeding of concrete

This process involves the movement of water used in mixing cement from bottom to top. If the water-cement ratio is 0.6 or more, there is a remarkably high likelihood that the bleeding channel will remain constant, resulting in a reduced bond between the aggregate and the cement paste. 

The concrete bleeding process is normal according to Dr Olivier, a French Scientist and Engineer, and in most cases, it occurs at a normal rate with no impact on your floor. However, in cases where the rate of bleeding is high, it can cause the weakening of bonds, resulting in floor disintegration and concrete dusting of your basement floor.

  • Humidity

The type of humidity during the laying of concrete in your basement also determines whether there will be a concrete dusting in the future or not. 

If the concrete is cold and cold water is used for mixing during a warm, humid day, condensation will occur, causing the top layer of the floor to be soft, resulting in dusting. The same case applies in reverse when the concrete is cold and the weather is also cold, which causes condensation of air in your basement. This condensation also causes the floors to be soft, resulting in dusting.

  • Improper ventilation

Using chemicals such as gas or propane is sometimes necessary when building your basement. However, if the basement is not well ventilated, the chemicals in the air can interact with chemicals in your concrete resulting in softening of the concrete, resulting in dusting in your basement.

How do I prevent dust in my basement?

Basements collect dust very easily due to very few places for dust to escape and, in most instances, limited air movement and ventilation. This poses challenges for people living in the building and can lead to health issues such as respiratory problems and unpleasant smells in the basement. 

Therefore, it is important to keep your basement free of dust. The following methods can help reduce or emanate dust from your basement.

  • Cleaning frequently

Regularly dusting and vacuuming your basement is a fantastic way of getting rid of the dust. Cleaning also helps you reduce the chances of dust mites making their way to your basement by reducing dust built up in the basement. 

Regular cleaning also helps in maintaining the hygiene of your basement and reducing the chances of dust becoming a health hazard and causing respiratory issues to the occupants of the building.

  • Reducing temperature and humidity 

Humidity is one of the main factors that cause dust in your basement. Unfortunately, it is difficult to keep your basement humid-free due to the moisture in the soil surrounding your foundation.

Therefore, you need a dehumidifier in the basement to prevent the chances of dust forming due to the peeling of the floor and weakening of your basement floors. You should also strive to keep temperatures in your basement as cool as possible to reduce dusting caused by humidity.

  • Remove carpets in your basements

Carpets hide dust on your basement floors. However, they do not prevent floors from peeling off and accumulating dust beneath them.

To prevent this, you should consider getting rid of carpeting and installing tile, vinyl, or hardwood floors in your basement.

  • Repair floors and make them waterproof

Regular cleaning, dehumidifying, and removing carpets can only do so much when your basement lets water in or has cracks that weaken its floor.

The solution to this is to ensure that your basement is waterproof, and if it is not, you should consider repairing it to prevent moisture from getting into your basement.

When repairing your basement or making it waterproof, it is important to consult professional services. If the repair and waterproofing are not done right, they can add more problems to your floor, causing your basement to become dustier.

I decided to conduct a study on the best methods to remove dust that is in the basement. Sometimes there can be a lot due to a renovation project. Here is the data that I found online on various forums that target cleaning tactics:

How to clean up dust that is in your basement Percentage of total results
Many suggest that you use a shop vac only in your basement to remove copious amounts of dust. A regular vac is not designed for an elevated level of thick dust. I recommend the 20V 2.6-gallon shop vac by Craftsman. Click here to view the details on Amazon. 27%
Sweeping compound (click to see pricing on Amazon) that is a powdery substance added to the dust will help to eliminate more of the dust during the sweeping process instead of simply using a vacuum. 41%
If you use bulk cat litter, it will act as if it is a sweeping compound, and the dust will cling to it. Then use a shop vac to suck out the dusty cat litter in your basement. 12%
Some suggest brooming most of the dust, and then using a sponge and water to wipe up the remaining dust. They state that vacuuming, even with a strong shop vacuum, will not suck out all the drywall dust. 15%
For sawdust that could be in a basement that is used for woodworking projects, use a cyclone separator that attaches to a shop vac that filters out most of the dust before it hits the shop vac filter. 5%
data from various online forums on cleaning methods

Here is a video showing you how to use sweeping compound to remove dust and dirt from a basement floor:

I recommend that you buy a sweeping compound called Kleen Sweep. Click here to see the current pricing on Amazon.

Why does my basement collect so much dust?

Chances are you have noticed that your basement is always dusty, and even with regular cleaning and vacuuming, the dust persists. Unfortunately, this problem is common, and there is even an industry term for this phenomenon, concrete dusting.

The main reason for concrete dusting is due to the top layer of your concrete becoming soft and making them easy to scrape and peel off. This weakening of the concrete floor of your basement can be caused by humidity, bleeding concrete, and improper ventilation.

However, there are other factors that might be contributing to your basement being always dusty. These factors include:

  • Insufficient curing of the concrete surface

Your basement’s foundation is important and skipping a step such as curing the concrete surface. 

The curing process involves protecting concrete against the loss of moisture required for hydration when building a house. The temperatures are also kept in range during the curing process. 

The curing process helps increase the strength of the concrete and decrease the permeability of the hardened concrete. It also helps prevent thermal and plastic cracks on your floor, thereby increasing the structure’s durability.

When ignored, you can expect your basement concrete floor to start cracking in the future and peeling off, resulting in dust.

  • Inclement weather

Exposure to cold or wet weather can also lead to the weakening of concrete floors. This causes the basement floors to start peeling off, causing them to be dusty.

  • Poor concrete mix

Chances are, the ratio of water to cement used when building your basement was wrong, resulting in concrete bleeding. For most houses, the recommended ratio for the mix is 0.4 to 0.6.

When the ratio is higher than 0.6, it causes the extra water to permeate through the concrete to the top, making it weak. This results in concrete bleeding, which is one of the major contributing factors of dust accumulating in your basement.

  • Release agents

Concrete release agents are a combination of mineral oil, ester/plant oil, and paraffin and are important during the building process.

However, usage of too much release agent can make the surface porous, contributing to weak concrete. This, in turn, results in concrete cracking and dusting of your basement floors.

  • Carbonation through CO2 and H2O

Carbonation that happens within concrete is when the CO2 in the air reacts with chemicals within the concrete.

Although this process is natural, carbonation lowers the PH value of concrete, reducing its reinforcement and ability to stop corrosion. Concrete with high PH can protect the reinforcement against coronation.

How do I dustproof my house?

Dust accumulation in your house is a nuisance and a health hazard that can cause respiratory issues for people living there. Therefore, it is important to arm yourself with dust-proofing techniques to keep your house free of dust. Here are some of the ways you can make your house dust free:

  • Replace your feather duster with a Microfiber cloth duster

People who use feather dusters only push the dust around but do not completely remove it in the house. This is because materials such as feather dusters and cotton are not able to collect dust. 

Therefore, microfiber is recommended for cleaning dust in your house. It is made up of tiny wedges that can trap dust and dirt. Microfiber also does not leave behind streaks and residue when cleaning dust, making them the best option for dust proofing your housing.

  • Use air purifiers

Air purifiers are also a wonderful way of trapping dust and air contaminants in your house. When buying an air purifier, you should ensure that it has a HEPA or high-efficiency particulate air filter feature that makes them more effective in carrying out the job.

  • Vacuuming and cleaning

Cleaning and vacuuming your house is a great way of ensuring that it is dust-free. Your Vacuum cleaners should also have HEPA or high-efficiency particulate air filters feature because it traps the molecules and air that comes in, hence removing dust completely.

  • Remove carpets

Carpets trap dust inside your house, and regardless of how many times you vacuum them, there will always be dust. You can replace your carpets with hardwood or vinyl boards which are more effective in keeping your house dust-free.

  • Wash bedding

Bedding and blankets are some of the heaviest dust carriers in a house. Keeping them clean prevents your house from becoming dust entrapment. Your pillows should also be clean to ensure no dust is trapped in them.

How to reduce dust in unfinished basement

Unfinished basements attract a lot of dust due to limited places where dust can escape, moisture and poor ventilation systems. Dust accumulation in the basement, however, is not just an eyesore; it is also a health hazard that can lead to various respiratory issues for people living around the building. Therefore, it is important to keep your unfinished basement dust-free, and here are some of the tips you can use to achieve this.

  • Using plastic barriers and duct tapes

Duct tapes and plastic sheets are mostly used during roofing to protect your housing structure. However, they can also be used in your unfinished basement to prevent dust from escaping or entering any holes or cracks on your concrete or in your basement. 

  • Use air filters

Air filters are also effective in preventing dust from accumulating in your basement. They can keep dust levels in your basement at minimum levels, thereby reducing the risk of people who live near the building taking too much dirt, which can be a health hazard.

  • Use a high-quality dust mask

Even with the best prevention measures, sometimes it is not possible to fully eliminate dust in our unfinished basement. To avoid breathing dust, it is always recommended to use a high-quality dust mask when working in your basement or visiting it.

  • Use dust collectors

Getting yourself a dust collector can also be an effective way of fighting dust in your basement. The machine can suck dust from your basement, giving you the freedom to stay in the basement.

How to get rid of dust mites

One of the negative impacts of dust accumulation in your basement is dust mites. Once they are in your basement, dust mites can multiply fast and can become a health hazard very quickly.

Their droppings have an unpleasant smell and the site of dust mites in your basement is unpleasant to the eye. Therefore, it is important to get rid of them by employing any of the following tips.

  1. Remove carpeting: It is true that most dust mites may not live under your carpets. However, carpets are able to hold dead dust mites for a long time; therefore, removing carpets is recommended.
  2. Hot water wash: wash clothes and floors with hot water to flush out termites living in our basement.
  3. Starve dust termites: Dust termites multiply when there is a constant flow of resources that support their livelihood, such as food. Cut the supply and you will be able to get yourself rid of the dust mites.
  4. Vacuum and clean the floors: Cleaning the floor and then vacuuming it can also help get rid of the dust mites. 

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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