Whether you’re knocking down walls or just replacing a light fixture in your bedroom, renovation projects are a great way to improve the look and feel of your home. That is, of course, if you’re OK with breathing a bunch of drywall and stone dust that your project will inevitably throw into the air. How can you maintain your home air quality while you’re renovating?

Accept That There Will Be Dust

First, you need to accept that there will be dust when you’re working on any sort of renovation project. Even if you’re not knocking down drywall or remodeling your entire kitchen, you’ll still be stirring up dust by moving furniture and other objects around. Instead of trying to finish your project without generating any dust, accept that there will be dust so you can move forward and take the necessary precautions.

Shut Off or Seal Your HVAC System

If you get drywall dust or other construction leavings in your home’s HVAC system, you’ll end up shelling out a lot of money to get your ventilation system completely cleaned. Ideally, the best way to protect the interior air quality is to shut off your HVAC system. However, if you need it on, seal all vents well with plastic and duct tape to prevent any dust from making its way into the rest of your home.

Invest in High-Quality Filters

While protecting the vents is important, it’s not the only way construction dust and debris can make their way into your HVAC system. Your cold-air intakes are also vulnerable. Cheap filters won’t be sufficient to keep the dust from spreading through your ventilation system and into the rest of your house.

If shutting off the system isn’t an option, invest in high-quality HEPA filters. They’re designed to remove almost all particles from the air, catching particulates down to 0.3 microns in size.

For comparison, the stone dust you create when using a saw only gets down to about 30 microns, and the skin cells that you shed every day are between 0.5 and 10 microns. Almost nothing gets through HEPA filters, making them the perfect choice for protecting air quality during a renovation project.

Block But Don’t Close Doors

Ideally, you want to keep dust and debris in the room where you’re working. You can block the vents and close the windows, but what about the door? If you shut it, it stirs up more dirt and debris as soon as someone opens it again. Instead, block the doors with plastic sheeting to keep any airborne particles from drifting into the rest of the house. However, you’ll still need to take precautions to ensure you’re not tracking dust everywhere on your clothes and shoes.

Create a Negative Air Pressure Environment

For particularly dusty projects or ones where you’re working with potentially hazardous materials, consider investing in equipment to create a negative air pressure environment. This prevents air from flowing out whenever a door or window is opened, thus preventing dust and debris from escaping the workspace. If you’ve got someone who is particularly sensitive to the substances you’re working on, creating a negative pressure environment is your best option.

Run Air Purifiers in Bedrooms 

Unless your room is hermetically sealed and everyone is thoroughly washed and decontaminated before leaving the workspace, you will end up with some dust or debris in the air. Instead of just living with it, try running air purifiers — especially in bedrooms and other areas where you’ll be spending a lot of time. It’s not essential, but it can help keep your home cleaner and protect your interior air quality.

Take Your Time and Protect Your Lungs

If you’re working on a DIY home remodel, make sure you’re following whatever steps necessary to protect your lungs from the dust and debris your project might stir up. Your body will thank you.

Bio:  Emily is a sustainability writer who is the creator of Conservation Folks.