We give little thought to it, but indoor air quality is just as important as the air temperature. A building’s HVAC system can have a direct impact on residents’ health. It is important in any building where an HVAC system operates that the system be well-balanced. An unbalanced system can create indoor air quality problems. Individual occupants should be instructed not to block off the supply or return vents. Blocking off vents in one room will force the additional air out through other vents in the system, causing an imbalance in the system, and some locations of the building will not receive sufficient fresh air.
Maintaining the network of ducts is crucial to ensure that the building’s HVAC units don’t become the source of potential indoor air quality problems. This means regular visual inspections of the filters, heat exchange coils, drip pans and variable air volume control boxes, and regular cleaning and sanitizing of the associated duct work. DIY kits are readily available to test your building’s indoor air quality.
The duct work should be vacuumed with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuums every couple of years and sanitized with a biocide if necessary. For areas where the dust or debris has adhered to the duct surfaces, a more aggressive means may be required to remove the deposits, such as power brushes or air knives.
Regular monitoring for indoor air contaminants such as VOCs, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide should be implemented to ensure that contaminants do not exceed recommended levels. The board should ensure that all units are within the proposed guidelines and that the HVAC system bringing in the fresh air does not contribute any hazards to the indoor air, which can result in “sick building syndrome.”