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

Air conditioning, climate control and proper handling of waste play a huge role in maintaining quality of life—not only in terms of comfort, but in terms of health as well.

In a multifamily building with scores, or 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.

Maintenance and Upkeep

How often should a multifamily building in New England have its garbage chutes cleaned and ventilation systems cleaned? That depends on who lives in the building, what their living habits are and how big the building is, says Christopher O’Korn, an account manager with SynergyOne Solutions, Inc. in Canton, Massachusetts.

“Other factors to consider would be the type of filter used, the type of flooring and the ‘time of use’ of the system,” says O’Korn. “For example, a retired couple that has hardwood floors with a good filter and uses their HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) system 50 percent of the time would require air duct cleaning every two to three years. On the flip side, a family of four that has a hardwood floor and uses their HVAC system 50 percent of the time would require air duct cleaning every one to two years. For sanitation purposes, garbage chutes should be cleaned every three months. The chutes should be water tight and should be high-pressure steam cleaned and then disinfected.”

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

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