Your best bet is to be as open and honest with your staff as possible. Remember that rumors can spread like wildfire in an office complex. Below are some tips for helping you and your staff make it through the winter air quality issues.
- Send reminders to employees concerning work that’s about to take place to your HVAC system or other unusual activities.
- Give reports to staff as to when they may expect problems or strange unusual smells due to construction or renovation.
- Post notices immediately when routine preventative maintenance is taken place, such as changing air filters. A lot of times, if staff see work being done to the system, they usually think the worst.
- Establish a written procedure for complaints.
- Always respond to all complaints.
What else can you do? Well, using preventive maintenance and regularly scheduled cleaning can certainly decrease complaints. The following checklist can be used to evaluate your system, therefore controlling indoor air quality issues. System Controls
- Are clocks, timers and seasonal switches set correctly and in the right position?
- Is the outdoor air damper in proper working order?
- Are thermostats and economizer settings set and functioning properly?
- Is outdoor air being distributed appropriately?
- Is the airflow direction cycling correctly?
Outdoor Air Intakes
- Are outdoor air intakes unobstructed? Are screens and covers clogged?
- Are air intakes near pollutant sources such as dumpsters, loading docks or vehicle idling areas?
- If intakes are not on the roof, are they near plumbing vents; kitchen, toilet or laboratory exhaust fans; puddles on the roof; or mist from air conditioning cooling towers?
- Has it been confirmed that air is actually entering the intake?
- Are air filters on ventilation equipment in good condition, properly installed, and with no major air leaks?
- Are condensation drain pans clean? Are drain pans slanting downward to ensure proper drainage?
- Are heating and cooling coils clean?
- Are air mixing chambers, fan blades and duct interiors clean?
- Are mechanical rooms free of trash, leaks, spills and chemicals?
- Are exhaust fans pulling air through exhaust grills properly?
- Are they removing enough air to eliminate odors and chemical fumes?
- If the exhaust fan is located close to the contaminant source, rather than on the roof, and exhaust air is ducted through the building under positive pressure, is the ductwork sealed and in good condition?
- Have all building occupants been advised of fire code and life safety items that they are to follow?
- Are occupants told of the system limitations for heating and cooling and the control measures available in their areas?
- Is there a designated contact person for each floor or area for complaints to go through, in order to control nuisance calls to the maintenance staff?
- Have maintenance staff members been adequately trained on the maintenance of the system, upkeep, and troubleshooting when necessary?
- Is a procedure in place for reporting problems to maintenance in writing, as opposed to everyone calling at once?
Remember that these checklists are only for evaluation purposes. No checklist is a substitute for a comprehensive HVAC maintenance program.
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