A Breath of Fresh Air Maintaining Vents, Ducts & Garbage Chutes

­­­In a multifamily building with scores, possibly hundreds of people living under one roof, cooking, cleaning, dusting and breathing, it’s no surprise that the airways, chutes and garbage rooms of these buildings can get clogged and dirty over time. Waste material, debris, and allergens can build up in a building’s airways and passages, causing everything from noxious smells to pest issues to bona fide health problems for residents. Air conditioning, climate control and proper handling of waste play a huge role in maintaining not only quality of life, but health as well.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Donald Weekes, CHI, CSP, president of the Ottawa, Ontario-based Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) says that ventilation systems in multifamily buildings should be assessed and cleaned on a building-by-building basis.

“For example, if you have a building in Midtown Manhattan or downtown Jersey City that is subject to a variety of different types of pollutants, problems from construction to traffic you may want to clean your ducts more often than if you are on a farm in Vermont,” says Weekes. “You make sure to gear the frequency of cleanings based on the amount of pollutants you have coming into your ventilation system.”

“The cleaning of duct work is dependent on each individual’s indoor air,” says Bill Benito, ASCA, and president of The National Air Duct Cleaners Association of America (NADCA). “Do you have dogs? Do you have cats? Do you have allergies? Do you have a lot of dirt collecting surfaces like rugs and curtains? There is no easy answer to how often ventilation systems should be cleaned. “

“Multifamily apartment buildings in New Jersey should have their ventilation systems cleaned at least every two to three years and they should be inspected every year,” says Kim Leary, manager of Bill Leary AC & Heating in Metuchen. “Generally, the best time to do it is before the heating season begins because there is down time between using the heating and using the air-conditioner. September is the best month.”


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