How can a HVAC preventative maintenance program improve the indoor air quality of your commercial, industrial or strata building?
Within the HVAC community, especially in the commercial, strata & residential market place, there is a growing recognition that HVAC systems need to do more than just control temperature and humidity. It’s not just about comfort anymore. Work places and home owners are increasingly aware of the fact that indoor air quality can have a significant impact on their health as well as their comfort. This increased awareness is being fuelled by front page stories regarding indoor air quality and its relationship to allergies, asthma, and illness. Organizations ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to even the World Health Organizations are now providing statistics that relate air pollutants to increased risks for serious illness. We at SD ATLAS HVAC believe that regular scheduled HVAC preventative maintenance programs along with filter changes is the key to quality breathing air and improved health conditions.
The importance of indoor air quality is not a new idea. Today’s buildings and homes are constructed and operate very differently than buildings of the past. These new structures are built much tighter than years ago. The tighter the building envelope, the less outdoor air can leak into and out of the structure. Therefore, tighter structures help reduce energy costs for heating and cooling equipment, but also reduce the amount of unplanned outdoor air intrusion that would typically dilute indoor air contaminants. Additionally, furnishings including carpeting, paints, furniture, cleaning products release chemicals that can cause irritation, trigger allergies or asthma attacks, and over long periods of exposure, chronic illness. These factors combine to increase indoor air quality problems if ventilation and air filtration are not implemented. Without proper ventilation and regular scheduled HVAC preventative maintenance and filter changes, indoor air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air.
About Indoor Air
Realistically most of us spend about 90% of our adult lives indoors, and that is where we all breathe with our families, co-workers, pets, and guests. What many of us don’t know is that the EPA has ranked indoor air pollution as a high priority public risk. According to the EPA, levels of pollutants indoors can be 2 to 5 times higher than outside, which is mind boggling. Household dust is present even in clean homes, and can be made up of pollens, mold spores, bacteria, allergens from pet dander, dust mites and other pests, and food particles. Many cleaning methods often re-suspend such dust into the air unless proper cleaning equipment like vacuums with HEPA filtration and dust-capturing cloths are properly used. These dust mites cause allergic reactions in about 10% of the population; there could be as many as 19,000 dust mites in one gram of dust. Your mattress and bedding could be a home for as many as 2 million dust mites.
While we can see “dust” in the air and settled on surfaces, about 99% of the particles in the air are smaller than 1 micron. The human eye can only see particles bigger than about 10 microns in size. So most of the harmful particles we are concerned about are invisible. Many gas contaminants in indoor air come from chemicals found in paints, finishes, carpets, flooring, cabinets, adhesives, cleaning supplies, air fresheners, candles, cosmetics, hair spray, or insecticides. Always check to see if the amount of ozone generated by an air cleaning device is stated. The EPA recommends very low ozone generation levels (50 ppb, or part-per-billion), but many portable room air cleaners generate higher levels that can actually trigger asthma and other respiratory problems.
Outdoor air is often less polluted than indoor air and therefore opening the window will improve indoor air quality by diluting indoor airborne contaminants. However, this is not always true. Whether during pollen season or urban rush-hour, downwind from a dusty field or a power plant, outdoor air can contain pollutants that can actually make indoor air worse, not better. Therefore outdoor air, dependent upon the season, building location and even time of day, may be worse than the indoor air it is replacing. That’s because outdoor air must often be “conditioned” to match temperature and humidity settings indoors and that requires an additional energy cost. Commercial HVAC preventative maintenance programs are designed to improve indoor air quality by optimally balancing ventilation, recirculation and filtration of indoor and outdoor air in the most energy and cost efficient way.
Sick Building Syndrome & Building Related Illness
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) can create symptoms of frequent headaches, eye irritation and fatigue. These symptoms generally disappear in an individual when that person leaves a building. The condition is generally caused by a build up of carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, mold by-products or other airborne contaminants. Building Related Illness (BRI) is diagnosable and can be directly attributed to environmental agents in the air such as Pontiac fever, Legionnaire’s disease and humidifier fever. Identifying the specific pollutant is not always easy. The sources could be any one or a combination of: the building itself, biological growing in the mechanical equipment, the building’s contents, the air around the building, operations or process in the building, and even the occupants.
In an effort to improve the indoor air quality in a building and to remove the offending sources we need to educate ourselves of the health benefits that well circulated and filtered air can provide us. It is important to understand that filters should be changed at regular intervals of every 1-3 months depending upon the facility and the surrounding environment. Without proper care, commercial HVAC systems can also contribute to indoor air quality problems. The commercial, industrial or strata HVAC systems may be contaminated because of mold in duct lining or bacteria on evaporator coils and filters. The system may spread these pollutants throughout the space. Regular maintenance and inspections of the building or strata HVAC equipment can eliminate any possibility of stale air and health hazards.
SD ATLAS HVAC takes pride in providing our customers with the best level of indoor air quality through offering comprehensive HVAC preventative maintenance programs for commercial, industrial and strata buildings. Leave it to our professionally trained service and repair experts to improve your air quality and keep your HVAC equipment running at optimum efficiency.
To schedule a commercial HVAC preventative maintenance quote please contact SD ATLAS HVAC at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are proud to serve Langley, Surrey, White Rock, the rest of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver area.