For years, building owners have looked for effective ways to minimize heating and cooling costs, which has ultimately led to modern workplaces which are, for all intents and purposes, sealed. While this practice does quite effectively reduce the building’s heating and cooling costs, the absence of natural airflow also often leads to poor indoor air quality if regular maintenance is neglected.
Tight buildings minimize air exchange
While older, drafty buildings are difficult to heat and cool, the constant exchange of air tends to reduce the level of contaminants present. Of course, ceilings and air ducts in these older buildings still get dirty, but the impact of mold and other contaminants is minimal when compared to modern buildings which are virtually sealed.
Poor indoor air quality is epidemic
Health authorities are increasingly concerned over the impact of poor indoor air quality and on the health and wellbeing of workers and visitors in tightly sealed buildings. Legionnaires Disease is an example of the type of problem now being experienced in modern buildings. Poor ventilation and the lack of ductwork cleaning are commonly cited as being responsible for the increase in illnesses experienced by building occupants.
Mitigating air quality issues
Poor indoor air quality directly impacts productivity as well as the health of building occupants. Absenteeism negatively affects the bottom line of a business, but the effects of poor air quality also affect the productivity of those still present. That suggests owners would financially benefit from taking steps to improve the air quality in their buildings.
Steps to take
- First, the building’s ventilation systems must be carefully examined to identify potential hazards. Once that step is taken, resolving current and potential issues is easier.
- Defining the risks associated with system defects is next. As noted, Legionnaires Disease is a hazard, but other health hazards are also important to consider. Respiratory issues are common in poorly ventilated structures or those with poorly maintained ventilation systems.
- Exploring improvements is next. The introduction of fresh air to the system is vital, but the condition of ductwork delivering that air to occupants is equally important.
- Evaluating the success of mitigation efforts can’t be ignored. If the steps taken haven’t adequately resolved air quality issues, other steps may be required.
Once the efforts to enhance indoor air quality are deemed successful, the next step is to evaluate ways to maintain that air quality.
Maintenance of ceilings and ventilation systems is vital
Recent studies indicate that employees of buildings where sicknesses are common to tend to turn over quickly. That means the bottom lines of companies are hurt when health issues within a building are the norm.
Maintaining a healthy indoor environment, on the other hand, minimizes turnover levels. That suggests developing an effective maintenance plan to enhance indoor air quality is becoming increasingly important as a tool to improve a business’s net income.
A building’s ductwork is, in effect, its lifeline. Keeping that ductwork clean not only improves the structure’s indoor air quality, it also promotes a healthy environment for all the building’s users.
How often does cleaning need to occur?
Most experts recommend a thorough clean of all sealed-building air conditioning and ventilation systems every three months, though in some cases this can be stretched out as far as every six months, depending upon traffic, the size of the space and the standard of how well regular cleaning is conducted. Regular vacuum cleaning of sections of the ceiling as part of your workplace’s regular weekly office cleaning schedule can go a long way to extending major cleans.
Ultimately, it is vital that your workplace develops a solid plan for keeping the building’s ceilings and ventilation system clean and functioning properly based on an evaluation of your structure’s individual circumstances. Don’t risk your health or the health of other building occupants by ignoring the maintenance air delivery systems in your building and the impact they have on indoor air quality.