Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Indoor Air Quality

We have floor drains in two of our restrooms that have a horrible "urine" smell, even after we have tried enzyme products, vinegar, and just about everything we can think of. They do have standing liquid. What do you suggest?
Is it possible to have a plan for cleaning schools with no voc chemicals?
My company recently started service at a concrete products mfg. facility. The flooring is hard (vct and tile) with a few carpeted offices. I have been told that the fire alarm has gone off due to dust raised when sweeping, etc. We have to clean these floors twice daily. Could you recommend a quality vac with a dump bag that we could use instead of a dust mop, and regular vacuum?
When we turn on our whole house fan which is upstairs, located outside one of our bathrooms, the bathroom starts smelling really bad, like sewage. We smelled around the toilet and the drain in the shower, but it is hard to tell where the smell is coming from. We get the sewer smell only in the bathroom, and only when both the air conditioner is being used and the whole house fan is turned on. It does not smell at all when the air conditioner is not running. We can turn on the whole house fan by itself and have no problems with the smell. What do you think is causing the odor and how can we get rid of it?
We smell a sewer odor throughout the house. It is a small, one-bedroom ranch/slab house with one bathroom and no crawl space. The smell is VERY STRONG at the 2 cold air return vents and then when the heat comes on I want to vomit. We have no cracked pipes; we have checked the attic for mold and dead animals. The plumber did the camera inspection and found no water under the furnace or in the air ducts. The plumber says our main clean out was 90 % blocked by tree roots. We have lived here for 10 yrs and have never had this before. Help!
Two weeks ago my project team cleaned the carpets in the state senate staff offices using the bonnet system. This was done in the evening, when the facility was unoccupied. The following day we received reports the staff nurse complaining of skin and eye irritation saw that 20-30 people. One occupant visited her personal doctor, whom said she appeared to have suffered some kind of chemical burn. Two week later we are still looking for the source of the mysterious irritant. The day following the incident, I called in a out side carpet cleaning company to extract the carpet using clear water, in hopes to dilute any remaining chemicals. Upon inspection of their work we discovered the carpet splitting at the seams throughout the facility. We've called in an industrial hygienist to hopefully find the problem. History of the cleaning process: The carpet cleaning crew has for at least six months, been using a water base carpet cleaning chemical, and water base odor eliminator, to add a fragrance, in all of the 40 facilities we maintain, with no adverse effect. All of the investigation in the problem area is focused on the cleaning process. The HVAC team checked the air handling systems, and all was in the normal range. The hygienist consultant has requested MSDS on both chemicals used in the cleaning process as a starting point for his investigation. At this point I am mystified. Id like some feedback from anyone out there having similar experiences, or theories of what the problem maybe, and possible solutions?
We had an issue with mold last year and had the building remediated and tested. We were given clearance at the end of the summer. One of the problems was our split faced block had never been sealed (new building in 1999), allowing moisture to come in. We had the block sealed last Fall, however, the sealant had a mineral spirit solvent which lead to fumes in the building which have really bothered some employees. We have come to believe the amount of sealant used on the block has lead to an inability for the sealant to dry; i.e., it simply soaked right into the brick and the fumes come through the walls. We corrected the problem by creating positive air pressure, this has helped for the most part, however, there are a few very sensitive employees who still have problems. We don't anticipate the sealant to be completely dried for another few months, thus the fumes will not be dissipated for quite awhile. With the warmer weather, we will be battling the fumes more, I believe. My question is if an air cleaner that specifically controls VOCs would help in this situation. Our main office is an open concept, exposed truss building, so we would need several cleaners. We are concerned about the health of our employee first.
Our apt. bldg. is three stories enclosed, 98,000 sq. ft. total. The second floor is uncomfortable during the day, hitting a temperature of about 77 degrees. When I turn on the AC, the two air handlers' coils ice up. The local AC company said the air temperature outside (38-40 degrees) was too cold for AC and this is normal. But none of my other units are icing up so I'm not buying it. For heat and AC these floors use 2 air handlers per floor & each has its own heat pump on the roof. We are in N. Calif. so it can get cold in the winter, but the building will stay between 78 to 82 degrees, which is too warm. I need to get the temperature down to 67/68. I have been with this company for only 6 months and the previous maintenance worker left no building history. Any help is much appreciated.
I have been searching for IAQ measurements/statistics related to green cleaning vs. standard cleaning. Also, the direct impact to occupant (health/wellness, increased productivity, reduced health cost issues, etc.) statistics related just to cleaning seems hard to find. There are plenty of statistics for overall IAQ linked to efficient design, construction, HVAC, materials, etc. Green cleaning must have an impact on those figures...but how much?
Should air purifiers be in school classrooms because a doctor says a teacher needs it? The classrooms have unit ventilator type HVAC.