Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>Safe to strip and refinish wood while central air on?
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Safe to strip and refinish wood while central air on?

HI..I need to get small hallway stripped and refinished. The stripper is safe to use inside. However the stripper wash does have quite a smell. Then, of course, the stain and polyurethane says to also keep away from flame and etc.

So since it is summer, can I do this with central air on (humidity is reason it's on)?

I know dumb question...but trying to get this done! Thanks for your help.

Re: Safe to strip and refinish wood while central air on?

This article has a lot of good info about refinishing wood.

I understand your problem because I also live in the Midwest and I had a hard time this spring finding a day warm enough to take my project outside, followed by days where the humidity was too high.

The article above says denatured alcohol or mineral spirits can be used to neutralize the stripper instead of a specialized stripping neutralizer. I used the alcohol for one part of my project and the mineral spirits for the door (because I could finally get outside) and both worked fine.

The article recommends a type of respirator. I would probably open a window or two even with the air conditioning on. Turn on some fans and work in the morning when the humidity is lower and not on a rainy day. The stains / varnishes usually tell what humidity is too high on the can. I check the weather channel. Those cool clear sunny days after storms come through are often low humidity days.

If you are just doing baseboards and door trim, you might want to remove them, refinish them in the garage and then put them back up. It might be easier.

I’m just an amateur. One of the pros might have more advice.

Re: Safe to strip and refinish wood while central air on?

As long as the HVAC rfeturn isn't in the room you're working in, do this:

Take everything you need in there, close the door and tape tho door to the frame with painter's tape (not regular masking tape) Throw a roll;ed-up towel across the bottom gap. Open one window and put a fan blowing outward in it. Block any large gaps there with cardboard and painter's tape.

Fresh air will come in from the HVAC vents. The sealed doorway will help fumes from entering the HVAC stystem and the negative pressure from the fan will also help that. If you need more ventilation open another window across the room or remove the cardboard at the fan if there's only one window. Still need more? Remove the towel at the bottom of the dioor. Normally this will provide enough fresh air to work safely with a respirator made for the job- not just a cheap dust mask. And it will minimize fumes entering the rest of the house. It will not work where a HVAC return is in a room. In that case all you can easily do is turn the system off and use a fan (blowing outward through the nearest window) to minimize the situation.

If you find you have forgotten something just after you sealed the room off, you're in good company- I still do that sometimes!


Re: Safe to strip and refinish wood while central air on?

Phil pretty much has nailed the way to do it. Even if there is a return in the room, you can cover it assuming there are other returns.
Opening a window or two with the a/c on won't hurt anything and will ensure the house air doesn't get too fumified.

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