Indoor Air Quality for Heating & Air Conditioning Systems

In the presence of damp building materials, the source of water incursion is often readily apparent (e.g., leaks in the roof, windows or a burst pipe). However, dampness problems can be less obvious when the affected materials and water source are hidden from view.
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Improper operation and maintenance of HVAC systems is one of the most common problems that impact workplace indoor environmental quality (IEQ). HVAC systems include all of the equipment used to ventilate, heat, and cool the building; to move the air around the building.
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There are a variety of chemical contaminants found in a variety of sources. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are common chemical contaminants found in office and home environments and are a source of odors. VOCs are organic (containing carbon) chemicals that can easily evaporate into the air.
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The old term Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has been expended. Now it is called Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and refers to the quality of a building’s entire environment as it relates to the health and wellbeing of those who occupy the building. IEQ is determined by a host of new factors beyond just the air quality. While IAQ was more concerned with the air, IEQ includes not only indoor air quality but lighting, temperature, ventilation and dampness.

Employees and customers are concerned about symptoms or health conditions from being exposed to contaminants in the buildings where they work or visit. One reason for this concern is, their symptoms often get better when they are not in the building. Research has shown some respiratory symptoms and illnesses can be associated with dampness in buildings. The same research shows 70% of the buildings in the US have evidence of past or current dampness issues. It is still unclear what measurements of indoor contaminants produce risk for disease. In most instances where an ill person and their physician suspect the building environment is causing a health condition, the information available from medical tests and tests of the environment is not sufficient to establish which contaminants are responsible. In any case, several states have already passed legislation dealing specifically with IEQ issues.

Uncertainty about what to measure and how to interpret what is measured is not a valid reason to ignore IEQ in your facility. Research clearly shows that Building-Related Illness’ (BRI) are associated with building characteristics, including dampness, cleanliness, and ventilation characteristics.

Today, indoor environmental equipment is highly complex and without an IEQ plan building occupants may be exposed to a variety of contaminants (in the form of gases and particles) from office machines, cleaning products, construction activities, carpets and furnishings, perfumes, cigarette smoke, water-damaged building materials, microbial growth (fungal, mold, and bacterial), insects, and outdoor pollutants. Other factors such as indoor temperatures, relative humidity, and outside air ventilation levels can also affect how individuals respond to the indoor environment.

Taking steps to prevent BRI from IEQ issues is smart business.

CMC is one of the few mechanical contractors that is also a member of NADCA making us one of the few companies with our level of qualifications. The commercial specifications for cleaning heating and air conditioning systems was prepared by NADCA, and describes the requirements necessary to coordinate a successful commercial HVAC system-cleaning project.

Our staff carries a number of IAQ/IEQ certifications:

  • Air System Cleaning Specialist (ASCS)
  • Certified Ventilation Inspector (CVI)
  • Ventilation System Mold Remediator (VSMR)
  • Certified Ventilation consultant (CVC)

A thorough assessment of your system is performed so we can accurately account for the unique system variations within your building. The use of NADCA’s specification and our staff’s experience is a guarantee of a successful project. Selecting a qualified contractor is as important as a developing a well written specification. CMC is the right choice.