Apartment building ventilation systems should provide your residents with fresh, clean air while controlling the loss of climate controlled air and humidity. This can be accomplished with a variety of ventilation systems, including natural, mechanical and hybrid systems. As a Chicago property manager, you should take the time to learn what type of ventilation system is in your building and if that system meets your residents’ needs.
Signs Your Apartment Building Ventilation System is Not Meeting Your Residents’ Needs
The biggest problem with bad ventilation is poor indoor air quality and low levels of comfort in your Chicago apartment building. It may also cause your heating and cooling equipment to work harder, resulting in an increase in your electric and/or gas bills.
- Stuffy rooms or stale air
- High indoor humidity levels
- Visible moisture on windows
- Increase in indoor allergy systems
- Residents complaining of feeling ill while inside the building
Ventilation System Basics
Your apartment building ventilation system circulates the air in your building and adds a certain amount of fresh air. It also filters particulate matter from your air, removes odors and helps control the humidity in your building. There are three main types of ventilation systems, including natural, mechanical and hybrid.
1. Natural Ventilation
Natural ventilation occurs when you open the windows and doors to your building and the individual tenant units. This lets the inside air out of the building and the outside air into the building. Natural ventilation also occurs if you have doors and windows that are not sealed properly or are not energy efficient.
Pros of Natural Ventilation
- No mechanical systems
- Fresh air is readily available
- Low maintenance
Cons of Natural Ventilation
- Allows climate controlled air out of the building
- Humidity is not regulated
- Many modern buildings are not designed for 100 percent natural ventilation
2. Mechanical Ventilation
Mechanical ventilation involves using fans and ducts to control the amount of outdoor air allowed inside the building while limiting the loss of climate controlled air. Many mechanical ventilation systems are packaged with or added onto HVAC systems.
Pros of Mechanical Ventilation
- Improved indoor air quality
Precise control over the ventilation system
Improved humidity levels and resident comfort
Cons of Mechanical Ventilation
- May cause some appliances to back-draft
- Can be energy inefficient if the amount of outside air entering the building is not controlled
- May cause moisture problems in winter
3. Hybrid Ventilation Systems
Hybrid ventilation systems, which are sometimes referred to as balanced systems or mixed-mode systems, incorporate features from both natural and mechanical ventilation systems. They typically provide one or more fresh air inlets that allow outside air into the building. That air is then routed via a duct system to a supply fan that boosts the pressure of the air. Exhaust fans in the ceilings help vent old, stale air to the outside.
Pros of Hybrid Ventilation
- Better building pressurization
- Reduced risk of back-drafting from fuel burning appliances
- Improved indoor comfort
- Fewer indoor air allergens
Cons of Hybrid Ventilation
- Poor design or poor installation can lead to inefficiency
- Allows climate controlled air to exit via the exhaust fans
- Insufficient fire safety features in the design could allow for smoke and fire penetration throughout building
Ventilation Repair and Replacement Options
Here at Althoff, we provide apartment building ventilation system repair, replacement and retrofitting. Our professional technicians can test the air quality in your building to determine if you have high levels of indoor air pollutants, and we can test for humidity and measure the indoor air temperatures throughout your building. These tests help us determine if your ventilation system is meeting your needs. If it is not meeting your needs, we can recommend energy efficient ventilation solutions to help improve your indoor air quality and your tenants’ comfort. Some solutions we’ve employed in the past include installing energy recovery ventilation systems, changing the sizes or number of fans in your building and installing humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
To learn more about how we can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your building's ventilation system, call us at 800-225-2443.