Dealing with dust

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by jlpape, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. jlpape

    jlpape Member

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    I recently moved from a house with a nice darkroom in the basement to an apartment where I am converting one of the bedrooms into a darkroom / guestroom. The basement darkroom was pretty dust free and I could hang negatives to dry out in the open and never had a problem with dust spots on my prints. The apartment is a completely different matter, dust everywhere. Don't know where it comes from but there is a significant amount of dust on the equipment one week after cleaning. One problem seems to be the furnace filter. Looked like it was never changed when we moved in, and I have been changing frequently to try and improve matters. It helps, but not a lot. I should also mention that I have 2 cats that add their fur to the room.

    Once my son returns to college in the fall, I plan on bringing the darkroom fully on-line, and was wondering if any of you have had a similar solution and how you dealt with it. One thing I will do is a thorough cleaning, then keep the door closed to the room and install some sort of filter on the heating / AC duct running into the room. Not sure if a simple furnace type filter is a good idea as I don't want to significantly restrict the heat / cool air coming through the duct. The other thing I was wondering about is an in-room dust reduction filter (something with a fan) to further reduce the dust. Have any of you tried these and if so, could you recommend a good unit. Any other things I should consider?

    Your help is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Jim
     
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    You know.... you are breathing in that much dust yourself! How about having your HVAC system professionally cleaned first? Do you own the apartment? Do you rent? Either way,it doesn't sound healthy!
     
  3. jlpape

    jlpape Member

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    Of course you are right on that one. As I mentioned I have been changing the filter and I wanted to monitor the dust to see if that brings the level down. We have lived here 2 weeks now and the 1st week was not good, but the second is better but still high. The heat wave has passed for now, so the AC is off and I can see how much dust is in the ambient air. In a week, the AC will probably go back on given the forecast and I will get another data point. If not to normal in another couple of weeks, I will do as you suggest.

    Even so, there is still much more dust than I had to deal with in my previous darkroom and I can still see dust as being a problem that I will have to deal with. Would have been true in my previous homes as well if I had the darkroom upstairs. The cats (both long hair) are enough pf a problem, darkroom wise, on their own.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2013
  4. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Maybe you can hang your negatives in closed cabinet or shower cabin? There are some portable cheap cabinet (for example in ikea) made from nylon hanged on metal construction.
    If possible do it in night time when there is no big movement in the apartment.
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    It will only work for drying prints and negatives but there's something called portable closet. It's basically a vinyl or cloth walled cabinet on a wheel. It's not expensive. If you go to amazon and search on "portable closet", you'll find a bunch. Personally, I do not use these but it has been suggested here on APUG many times as solution to avoiding dust on negatives when drying.

    Maybe it'll help you to solve some of your problems.
     
  6. megzdad81

    megzdad81 Subscriber

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    I achieved a significant reduction in dust problems during drying by using a zipper-closable clothes hanger bag that's about 16" wide, 18" deep, and about 54" long when hanging. I rigged something out of hard cardboard to give the hanger bag permanent shape. It takes a little longer to dry than in open air, but beat the heck out of the cost of a drying cabinet.
     
  7. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Get rid of carpets, rugs and soft furnishings in that room. If necessary, you could cover any guest-bed etc. with polythene sheet, to floor level, to stop that source of dust. Use dustcovers on the enlarger etc.

    Keep out cats and filter any incoming air. A desktop air-filter is cheap and can be left to circulate/clean for a day or so. After any regular cleaning, wait a day for any disturbed dust to settle again before printing. The film-drying cabinet idea is useful, or you can make something from foamboard and polythene sheet for a more collapsible alternative which can fit the 64" length of a roll of 135 (most of the fold-up temporary wardrobes I have looked at are too short).

    Isn't most house dust made of dead human cells? This could suggest that you are currently breathing in the remains of the previous occupants, repeatedly. What fun . . .
     
  8. jlpape

    jlpape Member

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    Thanks for the great info... I can see taking one of these and putting a high grade filter on the top and a small fan to pull the air out at the bottom. Might be overkill, but could be helpful. Another, more expensive, option that I saw looking at the web is a whole room air purifier. Kinda pricy but this would allow all of my equipment to be subjected to much less dust... and I can use it when I move into my permanent darkroom once we move.
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002VXDCHW?psc=1
    I also saw these:
    http://www.amazon.com/Vent-Mate-Reg...F8&qid=1374847146&sr=1-2&keywords=vent+filter

    Anyone use either of these options?
    Jim
     
  9. Chele

    Chele Member

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    Use a fan to draw outside air through a good quality furnace filter. The air gets "forced" into the room creating positive pressure and therefore it won't allow dust to be drawn back into the room. The fan does not need to be powerful, all you are doing is creating positive pressure. Disclaimer: I have never used that method, I read it in a forum many years ago and some of the fellows that used it reported very positive results. I hope that helps.
    Chele
     
  10. OzJohn

    OzJohn Member

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    All the cats I've owned have had a common desire in life - to be allowed in the darkroom and they never have been! While you can do a pretty good job of dust proofing a room that is a dedicated darkroom it is much harder in a room that has to do service as something else, even it's just storage of surplus household goods. A double door light trap, if you have the room, also keeps out a lot of dust as does air conditioning of the type that introduces fresh air (most split systems only recirculate) using the same air pressure effect mentioned by another poster. In the end, unless you build a clean room and suit-up appropriately to work in there, there will always be times when dust will spoil a print or two. Good reason to learn spotting. OzJohn
     
  11. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I've got at least eight cats. Only two of them are housecats .... but all of em do know the lab is off limits. But to work there I've got to change clothes after watching the evening news with the cat sitting on my lap... and then I blow myself off well with the compressor, and often put on a cleanroom suit for fussy film work or color printing. I've got electronic air cleaners, antitistic guns, the whole nine yards. Evertything is frequently mopped and swabbed. Ordinary black and white printing is a little less fussy once the negs are actually in the enlarger - fiber-based
    papers produce a certain amt of lint anyway, so requires cleaning up afterwards. I cut my teeth printing Cibachromes, which are almost impossible to spot properly, so learned early on that cleanliness in next to godliness in the darkroom.
     
  12. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Could some of the dust be coming from cat litter? What is the traffic on the streets outside of your house? Fortunately I live where the humidity is generally high. I have a foam air filter over the AC duct in my darkroom and an exhaust fan in the darkroom and have never had a dust problem.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  13. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Just depends how critical your standards are. If you wear a cotton shirt in the darkroom, you have a lint problem! Just look how anyone in a
    real cleanroom is dressed. At the Bayer plant down the corner the floors are stainless steel and steam-cleaned prior to every batch run. Once
    you're suited up you can't even take a bathroom break. The inspector comes in wearing a new white glove and runs it around the inside perimeter of the exhaust hood. If the glove shows any dirt or discoloration, you're fired! We darkroom workers have it easy by those standards. But we can copy certain practical solutions from cleanroom industries, like controlling dust and static. Yeah, I can still remember when I put up my first exhibition from color work enlarged in a carpeted bedroom and developed in an adjacent bathroom, but it's a helluva lot eaiser to do it in digs with enameled walls, triple-filtered air lines, a big industrial air cleaner, and a true HEPA vac system (which bears little resemblance to those cheap phony HEPA vacs you can get at home centers). Every little bit helps. I especially like my 100% dacron cleanroom smock. It's washable, but has none of the lint of a cotton lab coat.
     
  14. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I have dust from the playa in my darkroom right now.
     
  15. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    That is literally true, but the playa dust will not be on my negatives. It's on the old Coleman stove sitting on the floor that I plan to clean off tomorrow. The full explanation is that my darkroom is not sealed and the air is not filtered. My standards are decidedly NOT critical. I work in black and white and consider dust a problem up until the negative is exposed. After that, dust becomes a white speck on the print that is easy to spot.
     
  16. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Bill you're a burning man guy? I never would have guessed! Cool.

    I haven't been, but that's because I'm too broke haha, but I breathe and spin fire with a lot of those from the same community :smile:

    Also, I live in a terribly dusty place, it's awful. But I agree it's more critical BEFORE the image is taken, but the best way to combat it is to add humidity to the room before you hang the film, it kills the dust flying around, this is easy for me since I hang film in my shower, so can steam it up first, I can't say what to do with a dedicated darkroom...


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  17. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Haaa, not me, but I can see how leaving out specific details can give that impression. Friends sure, some of our friends go all the time and my wife says they practically organize the event. But I went to the desert with the Boy Scouts, more in line with my roots.

    Humidity is my friend, that is for sure, since I live near the beach. This could be the secret of my success.
     
  18. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    :wink: oh haha, yes that puts it all in perspective, FYI Eagle Scout Troop 68 :smile:


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  19. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Wow Stone, now you've surprised me! Congratulations.

    Jim,

    Sorry to have hijacked your thread... Now you see the gamut runs from Drew's cleanroom to my pigpen. Of course you will want to be somewhere in-between. I don't think I'd spend $900 for a HEPA filter. I once picked up a nice old used one at a flea market for $20 and ran it in my cabin darkroom. That thing was big as a speaker and had a squirrelcage fan on variable speed control. It really cut down the dust. That cabin had small-ish rooms. Smooth floors, ceilings and walls were easy to clean.

    So I think a HEPA filter would be great, but don't spend that much.