Bad Indoor Air Quality-Sick building syndrome and building related illness are terms used to describe the negative health effects and illnesses directly related to the time spent in a building.
Lawsuits directed at building owners have become more frequent as people realize that there is a relationship between poor indoor air quality and the illnesses it may cause. In the workplace as well as schools, increasing health problems will result in decreasing productivity and attendance. Studies have shown that pollutant levels indoors are often 2-5 times higher than those found outdoors. According to The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, occupants in buildings where the ducts have not been cleaned are 60% more likely to develop respiratory ailments. One of the main benefits of duct cleaning is that it removes the numerous sources of allergens or contaminants that exist in HVAC systems.
Contaminants such as mold, bacteria, animal remains, ie. mice, birds or squirrels, fiberglass insulation fibers, dust, debris, dust mites and even mouse droppings are all found in duct work. These contaminants are easily dispersed into the ambient air for the building occupants to inhale. The complexity and size of commercial HVAC systems increases the potential areas where contaminants can accumulate; they have large air handling units, terminal boxes and VAV boxes installed throughout the system, elbows with turning vanes, and dampers. These are all places where dust and dirt accumulate. Also, outside air intakes can introduce moisture into the system and clogged condensate drains increase the likelihood of mold growth in the system. This problem is further compounded by the fact that many commercial installations are internally insulated with fiberglass.
Poor Energy Efficiency-Heating and cooling systems are crucial to most businesses but also represent a large component of many facilities’ utility expenses. Cooling systems in particular are very energy intensive and are almost always fueled by electricity. Their operation typically coincides with periods that are subject to peak time and use charges. The prudent and conservative use of energy is one of the easiest and most cost effective steps you can take to cut operating costs and increase profitability. Improved heating and cooling performance, along with substantial energy savings can be achieved by implementing energy efficient measures. The greatest savings can be realized by undertaking a comprehensive energy efficiency program with the assistance of an energy management professional. There are a few simple steps you can take to increase the efficiency of your HVAC system. The first step is keeping ducts and filters clean so HVAC equipment can operate at maximum efficiency and lower cost. The HVAC systems account for approximately 40% of the electricity used in Commercial buildings (source, US Small Business Administration). Commercial cleaning of duct work, air handlers, evaporator coils and condensate coils improves energy efficiency by improving the performance of HVAC systems and increasing air flow. Dust and dirt laden duct work quickly overwhelms filters and leads to stress on the air handling units, especially the blower motor which translates into higher energy costs. Blockages in reheat coils, mixing boxes, VAV boxes, squirrel cages and other terminal boxes found in commercial systems can also restrict air flow. A dirty coil uses 37% more electricity than a clean coil. A second simple step is to frequently check outdoor air conditioning coils and remove all dirt and debris. Good energy management is good business.
Faulty Induct Smoke Detectors-Commonly found in commercial buildings, In-duct smoke detectors, are located inside the HVAC system ductwork. The In-duct smoke detectors perform two functions. The first is to trigger the fire alarm that alerts the occupants of the building and your alarm monitoring company to the possibility of a fire. The second function is to shut down the HVAC system in the building to prevent it from worsening, due to the extra oxygen it would provide. Due to the location of the sample tubes falling directly in the center of the air flow inside the ducts, they tend to become clogged and contaminated very quickly. This increases the chance of annoying false alarms and more importantly the possibility of failure of the alarm to detect smoke during an actual fire. Obviously, the cleaning and maintenance of the ductwork in this situation is of utmost importance.
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