Property Managers: Just Washing Surfaces? What About Air Quality in Condos?

indoor air quality in condos

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With the arrival of the pandemic, condo protocols focused on cleaning surfaces. This overlooked a far more dangerous threat: Poor indoor air quality in condos. While your building should continue to clean surfaces, you should also introduce clean air protocols.

Risk of Ventilation and Aerosol Transmission

Someone infected with COVID-19 can spread particles when they speak, cough, sneeze, etc. How far the particles travel and how transmissible they are depends on how infectious the person is and what they are doing. Activities such as singing, speaking forcefully, yelling, or even breathing heavily can all increase the production of aerosols and droplets. Combined with the space and ventilation, the risk is reduced or increased.

How Does Improved Ventilation Help with Air Quality in Condos?

Improved ventilation helps improve the exchange of outdoor air and indoor air. As a result, it dilutes contaminants. The better the ventilation, the more effective it becomes at removing contaminants altogether.

Air Ventilation Best Practices

According to the Center for Disease Control, introducing more outdoor air is key to improving indoor air quality in condos. The first step is to ensure your ventilation systems operate efficiently and can provide acceptable indoor air quality. You can also adopt the following recommendations that make sense for your building:

Air Dampers: Outdoor air dampers should be opened beyond their minimum settings as it reduces and even eliminates HVAC air recirculation. When the weather is mild, thermal comfort and humidity levels will remain comfortable, but keep in mind this will change when experiencing colder, warmer, or more humid conditions.

Rebalance: Make adjustments to rebalance how your HVAC system delivers airflow to help increase total airflow to units and common areas and improve air quality in condos as a result.

Increase Air Filtration: Set the external icon as high as possible to improve outdoor air delivery in condos. If your management isn’t sure how to do this, call your HVAC provider and they can determine how to do so without significantly reducing design airflow.

Proper Air Filters: Make sure all system air filters are the right size and change them well within the manufacturer’s recommendations. Have an inspection to ensure that there aren’t any issues with the filter housing as this can affect fit. Poor fit minimizes filter effectiveness.

Improve Directional Airflow: Depending on what type of directional airflow your building uses you can improve air movement by looking at the position of supply louvers, exhaust air grilles, and/or damper settings.

Keep in mind these improvements are beneficial regardless of the pandemic as they help improve air quality in general. Also be sure to consider energy usage implications for the above recommendations.

Potential Risks of Some Methods

In some cases, the advice might not be well-suited for condo use including:

  • Opening Doors and Windows: While opening doors and windows does help improve outdoor air flow, it also introduces security risks. Because of this, ensure you are not leaving entries or main floor windows open that will offer opportunities for unauthorized entry.
  • Fans: While fans can help circulate air, they can also make matters worse. In smaller spaces such as your management office, it can actually force contaminated air from one person to another.

To avoid the above issues, consider using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems. They are an affordable, safe way to enhance air cleaning in the lobby, mail room, office, and laundry rooms.

The condo experts at CPO Management Inc, a full-service property management company in Toronto and the GTA, has had tremendous success helping condo corporations overcome COVID challenges. We can develop effective strategies that offer benefits now and post-pandemic. Reach out to us today to learn more about our condo services.

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