Here's what the dust storm looked like as it covered the desert valley area of Phoenix.
The most powerful monsoon season in Phoenix delivered a whole lot more than just desert dirt.
The dust storm started in the southeast valley and soon covered the entire metro area.
For those who lived thru the dust storm in Phoenix know that this was an amazing event that only Mother Nature could provide. As it approached the desert valley, the ominous, billowing storm was more than 60 miles wide and reached a height of more than a mile. And now what's left ? A fine layer of wind-driven dust causing potential problems for building owners and maintenance staff thru out the desert area. And it's a mess.
The owners and managers of homes, apartments, condos and office buildings of every shape and size should start the cleaning process as quickly as possible to protect not only the surfaces and finishes but mechanical systems like air conditioning. But wait ! There are a few things to know as you start cleaning up.
Before you start grabbing hoses and pressure cleaners to wash the surfaces of walls, decks and roofs, its important to consider that high pressure streams may knock off the surface dust but damage what's under. So be careful and avoid hitting any surface with a direct stream. Instead go easy on the pressure with a broader or wider spray to avoid driving the dirt deeper into brick, stucco and painted finishes, or worse, blasting the finish that would require significant repairs. In this case, it may take multiple passes to do a thorough, safe wash down.
With hose in hand, don't forget to wash the AC Unit. But the advice from the tech people is to use a bit of caution as well. Avoid using high pressure washers as they can easily damage the fins on the evaporator coils and make the compressor work that much harder leading one to call out HVAC repair on some hot Arizona summer day. And then go inside and check the filter on the air handler. It may need replacing depending on how tight the construction envelope is on the building. Fine dust and dirt can seep into even the smallest of crevices,.. especially when the winds blew the way it did during the storm. You might even want to check on that new filter in just a few days and replace it if you see a build-up of dirt on that one. This dust will be with us for several more days hanging around in the atmosphere.
What's Next? Fine furniture, window, wall and floor coverings may need a thorough cleaning not just once but over the next several days as there is still a lot of dust out there. Try to very softly remove any dust first before a more complete polishing to avoid creating fine scratches in glass, woods, stones and counters. Use plenty of clean cloths and don't continue to use dirty cloths and go from piece to piece as the cloth can become very abrasive after only a few uses. Consider using "damp" disposables or very slightly moistened cloth baby diapers but never dry paper towels.
Carpeting and rugs should be vacuumed initially with your "hoover" set at the highest level to remove the top dirt before going deeper into the carpet nap. Same thing goes for the fabrics that cover windows and walls, sofas and chairs. Better to use a hand-vac and run it easily over the surface before using more extensive options like wet or dry-cleaning to remove what Mother Nature delivered to us. It was amazing event even it is a pain to clean up after.
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Desert, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.