I’m not talking about drugs.
Last week I discovered I had a big dust problem in my house. My mother mentioned it to me last year when she was living with me, and even paid to have the air ducts cleaned out, but I didn’t pay it much attention at the time. I thanked her and naively thought I was in the clear. Boy, was I wrong.
To say the least, I’ve learned more about dust this week than I had my entire life.
My dust problems originate in my basement, where my studio is located. In addition to doing music there, I store thousands of vinyl records down there. The problem however, isn’t the vinyl records – it’s the humidity.
Really humid areas of a house attract a lot of dust and germs. As the dust and germs start to accumulate, the air in those spaces gets bad. This didn’t really effect me in the winter (mostly because germs hate cold temperatures), but since this summer has been one of the hottest on record I’ve had some issues.
The first sign was that I started feeling like I couldn’t spend extended amounts of time in my studio. I never thought much of it at the time, dismissing it as a lack of motivation, but looking back now I believe my body was uncomfortable and sending me a sign that my environment wasn’t right. Since the start of the summer, I’ve experienced more problems with my allergies and headaches than usual. Whenever I was in the studio for long periods of time I started to feel like my skin was getting itchy, but nothing was there. This made me want to spend even less time in the studio, so less work got done. I was used to the basement being humid and slightly uncomfortable, but this was something new. When I was creating Adventures in Counter-Culture I would sleep in my basement studio for weeks on end without any of these problems, but there was no way I could do that now. Hell, I had even I experienced a problem in my bedroom for the first time last week, as it had started to feel like the basement. Something had changed.
It was the dust.
The humidity caused by record temperatures and two months of one-hundred degree weather had pushed the dust in my house past the tipping point.
My allergies were worse than ever and that itchy feeling had started to spread from my basement into my bedroom. One night of restless sleeping was enough for me. I decided I had enough, so I got online and started researching dust. I learned that what I thought was harmless and just a part of having a basement or studio with records in it was actually a potential health hazard. Allergies, respiratory problems, and the infestation of invisible dust mites were the consequences of my neglect and lack of understanding. Patches of dust are really nests for Dust Mites. This is why I felt itchy in the most dusty and humid areas of the house. As I read through multiple sources I came to understand the gravity of my situation. It was deep. Everything I had experienced and dismissed as nothing was really something, and I needed to take immediate action.
So a couple days ago, I declared an all out war on the dust in my house. Right now I’m deep in the trenches and my basement is the front-line of that war. As I clean and remove thick patches of dust from each room (that have been there for several years), I notice an immediate difference. I’m typing this while taking a break from cleaning the most challenging room in my basement: my laundry room. Between the washer (moisture), the dryer (heat), the water heater (humidity), the furnace (heat), and me not cleaning it for several years – this room is by far the most contaminated room in the house and probably the source of most of my issues. It’s crazy to think that just a year ago I used to spend a lot of time down there and never had any of these problems.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that these problems arise from keeping too much unnecessary crap around: boxes of old papers, clothes, unused gadgets, shipping boxes, bedding, remodeling supplies, etc.. I’ve decided to use this as an opportunity to get rid of a bunch of crap that needed to be removed anyways. I’ve taken it so far as to not even sleep here while this is going on and got a hotel on the other side of town for a couple of days. That way I can be more objective about what needs to be done. Otherwise, I might be be tempted to postpone fixing, throwing out, or cleaning something just because it would make me uncomfortable to sleep here at night.
To all my people with damp, humid, or dusty basements please let my experience be an example of what can happen if you let the dust get out of hand. What seems like a small consequence of keeping vinyl, having a basement studio, or storing other old stuff can cause havoc on your house and ability to be comfortable.
I’m going to get back to cleaning and see if I can my hands on get a couple dehumidifiers.
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