Indoor Air Quality

April 2005

Are Indoor Air Quality issues affecting your work? What challenges are you facing, and how are you meeting those challenges?

Yes, as a drywall finisher indoor air is very important. My problem is hvac companies will not hook the heat up until I am done [because] they say the dust will mess up their unit. Well, hot and cold will mess up your walls by causing seams and corners to crack. But I still need to work through the winter. So how do I convince the home owner or general contractor to have heat on? —Paige Swift, Owner, East Coast Drywall, Virginia

We have several situations of air quality issues. We cut expanded polystyrene beadboard in our two-story–high workshop on almost a daily basis. It gives off fumes that are potentially noxious. Therefore, we have a fan in a high window in the shop that draws those fumes up and out of the shop. This fan also keeps those same fumes from flowing forward into the contiguous office areas on the first and second floors.

We have a situation of potentially noxious fumes in the areas we tent to perform our work in cold weather, albeit actually outdoors. We set frame scaffold against a structure that we will subsequently cover with cement plaster or EIFS or stone. In this fairly airtight enclosure, we operate kerosene heaters. So as not to intoxicate the workers or negatively affect the cure of the wet materials we are installing, we ensure that enough fresh air intake exists at the bottom of the enclosure to provide satisfactory oxygen, and have venting sufficient at the top of the enclosure to allow the exhaust fumes to exit.—Robert A. Aird, President, Robert A. Aird, Inc., Frederick, Maryland

No, air quality is not affecting my work other than drywall dust and paint fumes. But, I have areas where I can leave the room when this happen and it’s no big deal. I am a small business where there’s just myself working and nobody else. Thanks. —Dave Mertz, Owner, Drywall, Plaster and other Interiors, Quarryville, Pennsylvania

Coming Up Soon! This month’s question led to another set of questions from R.L. Johnson of Rin Buhr Construction Corp. in Roanoke, Va. He asks: "What is the industry standard for moisture content of gypsum wallboard during construction? Specifically, what is acceptable moisture content of gypsum wallboard when hung and waiting for final finish?”

So, based on Mr. Johnson’s query, we now pose this question to you, our readers: How wet is too wet, and how do you know when it’s too wet?

We will publish your responses in an upcoming Problem Solved, and we’ll get the technical answer in an upcoming Wachuwannano.

E-mail your answers to porinchak@awci.org, fax them to 703.534.8307, or mail them to 803 W. Broad St., Suite 600, Falls Church, VA 22046.