Keep the Air Moving

July 2018

While most of us don’t think much about the air we breathe, condo buildings go to great lengths to ensure it is clean, safe and breathable.

Buildings do not naturally have clean and fresh air.  Humidity gets trapped inside walls and windows.  Building materials and equipment give off toxins or facilitate mould which can be harmful in significant quantities.  Allergens and odours also result from stagnant air.

Ventilation and fans ensure air does not become stagnant while air pressure is used to keep odours within suites.

In the early days of high-rise buildings, the 1960s, buildings had mechanical ventilation systems that did not always provide sufficient outside air to balance with what was being vented from the building.  This “natural ventilation” resulted in drafts, odours and air temperature issues.  Doors, elevator shafts and windows had a whistling sound as air travelled through a building.  Air flow was facilitated by the opening and closing of windows and doors.

As time passed newer buildings were more airtight which resulted in more stagnant indoor air.  Contaminants such as carbon dioxide, lead, sulfur dioxide, humidity, mould and unpleasant odours became more common.  Ventilation systems became more sophisticated to compensate.

M & E Engineering helps design to maintain proper air quality in high-rise buildings.  Ed Porasz explains how air quality can be compromised.  “Today’s problems include contaminants and odours from cooking, pet waste and other issues associated with hoarding or lack of cleanliness.  When renovations are in process painting, drywalling, carpeting and other projects can give off toxins that need to be disbursed.  Second hand smoke is another air flow challenge for condo buildings.”

More extensive and sophisticated duct systems help protect against all these problems.

Indoor air quality is important to health.  Having an air quality assessment every ten years helps ensure your building’s ventilation system continues to maintain proper air quality.  A system that worked well ten years ago may no longer be adequate or equipment has been adjusted or changed, to deal with changes and occupancy habits that have occurred within the walls of your condo building.

Minor maintenance can have a big impact on air quality:

  • Change filters regularly before they become noticeably clogged.
  • Duct work cleaning.
  • Air balancing of supply and exhaust air systems.
  • Maintaining and cleaning air handling equipment.
  • Maintain and clean cooling and dehumidifying equipment early spring and early fall. Look for standing water in drain pans and microbial growth in evaporator coils.
  • Caulking, weatherproofing and sealing windows and doors.