Protect Yourself and Your Home while renovating during COVID-19
Tips for maintaining a halted home construction site By Morgan Goldberg
April 15, 2020
As the world has suddenly come to a standstill even the best-laid plans are falling apart. This unforeseen global crisis has upended even the most organized renovation projects, forcing progress to abruptly pause. While a construction delay can be disconcerting, the founder of the new home-management app Pulled, Michael Clarke, advises against continuing work during this trying time.
“While it can seem like a good idea to keep a renovation project going during COVID-19 to keep timelines on track and to help small businesses such as contractors and suppliers maintain their incomes, it can also be unsafe and challenging,” he says. According to Clarke, in addition to the risk of bringing multiple workers close together, inhalation of dust and debris from construction can exacerbate a case of the virus for anyone in the home. Additionally, most municipalities are closed and therefore cannot sign off on the proper permits or conduct regular inspections necessary for progression. Since the Pulled app is designed as a dashboard resource for tracking, organizing, and facilitating communication for home projects, Clarke—who’s a former contractor himself is an expert on every stage of the building process. We tapped him to share master tips on how to keep your renovation area safe and sound until work can resume. Here’s what you can do. 1. Close air vents and replace filters Air quality is more important than ever, so getting a handle on the inner workings of your heating and cooling system is key. If your construction area contains your return vents, it’s wise to completely shut down your system in favor of portable heaters and air-conditioning units to avoid the transfer of dangerous dust and debris throughout the rest of your home. Otherwise, simply keep the zone’s air vents closed and replace your filters to keep clean air flowing.
2. Build a temporary plastic wall Dust is the real enemy here and restricting airflow is the best way to keep it from getting in. Create an airtight barrier of plastic sealed with tape—a loose plastic curtain won’t get the job done. Clarke recommends a heavy plastic with an adhesive-backed zipper for easy entry and exit when the job resumes.
3. Eliminate hazards and potential damage Renovation sites are full of precarious items that you can easily tidy. Wrap loose wiring and tape it to a wall, cover any open piping, and bend over any exposed nails and screws. Loose building materials should be organized into like sections at the perimeter of the space, creating a clear walking path. countertops, fixtures, and flooring that have already been installed should be covered to prevent damage.
4. Wear booties Anytime you enter your construction site, put disposable booties on your shoes. (And make sure to remove the booties before you go back into your home, along with any other protective gear like a mask or gloves.) This will guarantee that you don’t track in dirt and debris from the work area.
5. Set up a fan To keep dust levels down, keep a fan blowing out of a window in the renovation site. This creates a slight vacuum and makes sure that any gaps in your plastic barrier will let air flow into the zone. Be sure to cover large spaces around the fan with cardboard or plastic, so any wind from outside doesn’t push the dust right back in. For the best airflow, Clarke says it’s best to crack open a door or window on the opposite side of the room.
6. Use a shop vac and add an extra vacuum hose For the final dust-related piece of advice, Clarke endorses the use of a shop vacuum throughout the house. Despite all your best efforts, there’s a chance that debris from the renovation site has found its way into your home and this can damage your normal vacuum. However, it’s vital to note that the exhaust stream from a shop vacuum can often raise more dust than the vacuum sucks up. This means it’s advisable to connect an extra vacuum hose to the exhaust port and run it outside through a window or door, which will prevent dust from spreading further.