Lungs of your Building

April 2023

Our survival as people depends on our lungs, a crucial part of our respiratory system whose main job is to deliver fresh air to the body and remove waste gasses.  The ventilation or HVAC system of a high-rise building functions in a similar way.  Its purpose is to control the flow of fresh air into the building and remove stale air.  The benefits of this system, and its proper maintenance, are crucial to our health.

Better ventilated buildings have fewer pathogens floating around.  People are healthier and more alert.  There is a reduced risk of contracting viruses from others.  Poorly maintained ventilation systems are the cause of ailments, both minor and significant.  When symptoms are experienced by 15 to 20 percent or more of building occupants, your community may be suffering from sick building syndrome.  These are buildings where a significant number of people experience health problems or illnesses that appear related to how much time is spent in a specific building, and no illness or cause can be identified.  Symptoms include unidentifiable odours; headaches, fatigue, rashes or other physical symptoms; flu-like symptoms; allergies; and eye or nasal irritation.

Ducts and vents throughout the building transport fresh air inside and stale air outside.  Filters help keep recirculated air clean.  Fan coils and heat pumps maintain proper indoor temperatures.  There are motors to keep air flowing and systems to improve efficiency.  Newer installations may have a software brain to control and optimize the system.

Components require regular maintenance and periodic replacement to keep all components  functional.  Supply systems and ducts require cleaning to prevent dirt, mould and other “undesirables” from blocking the system, growing and travelling throughout a building.  This complex system works as a single unit to maintain proper air quality while keeping your home comfortable, clean and safe.

During the pandemic, poorly maintained ventilation systems are believed to have been be a contributor to virus infection.