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How do I stop the wood dust from entering the vents while I'm sanding the hardwood floor? I am thinking that stuffing with newspapers will do the trick, but this may have two flaws:

  1. It will not completely seal the vents. Some dust will make its way. (Does it matter?)
  2. The newspapers may be a fire hazard during the brief time the sander will be over the vents. (Can paper ignite from friction this easily?)

How does a professional solve this problem? The rectangular holes seem to be of standard dimensions. Is there a special device that will fit just right?

  • I don't know if it's the correct and professional method but I stuffed mine with a rag/towel pushed below floor level and then used a shop vac before removing the towel – Tyson Jun 10 '16 at 1:35
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A good way to deal with this is to push a plastic trash bag down into the vent pipe. Use one the smaller type meant to be a trash can liner.

Then use duct or gorilla tape to adhere the open end of the bag around the inside top edge of the vent just below the floor level. It will take just a little bit of finesse to fold the excess circumference of the bag opening back on itself under the tape so that the vent opening is fully enclosed to enter the bag.

If there is a gap from the vent pipe top edge to the edge of the floor wood you may also want to bridge that gap with more runs of the tape but to be careful about putting tape where it could get engaged with the floor sander.

During sanding any accumulated sawdust goes into the trash bag. After the sanding is completed and the excess sawdust around the vent holes can also be swept into the vent bag. Removal by peeling back the tape permits the bag with all accumulated sawdust inside to be lifted out and easily discarded.

  • I'm guessing you also turn off their HVAC system to ensure there are no blow outs, right? – UnhandledExcepSean Jun 10 '16 at 14:11
  • You would always want to make sure to shut off any air system that used the vents. Last thing you want is for dust to go more places than where you've tried to confine it. – Michael Karas Jun 10 '16 at 14:15
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I cut a piece of cardboard press it in the hole and seal with duct tape approximately 1" down. When done I vacuum the dust and wipe with a wet rag. My customers like the few minutes I take to keep the dust out of their vents.

  • Since I'm doing one room at a time, I'm going with Michael's idea, but Ed's (this) idea seems to be the right one to do more than one room in a row. – Calaf Jun 15 '16 at 21:53

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