Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Improving Ventilation and Fresh Air Flow in Apartment Buildings

Proper air flow in an apartment building affects nearly every aspect of the occupants’ well-being. If the air they are breathing is not sufficiently fresh, it can cause problems ranging from nuisance frustrations to genuine health concerns. In New York City, where most people live in apartment buildings, ventilation should be a prime landlord and property manager priority. Here’s what you need to know about the air your tenants are breathing, along with tips for improving ventilation and air flow.

Why Proper Air Flow Is Important

Resident health and well being

There are multiple reasons why adequate air flow is vital for your building’s occupants. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend roughly 90 percent of their time indoors, with babies and the elderly getting outside even less. With many more people working remotely from home these days, the 90 percent figure is probably on the low side.

A pleasant-smelling building

When people step into your lobby, hallways, and elevators, they do not want to encounter stale air, mildew, cigarette smoke, and food odors. Not only could this cause tenants to argue with each other, but they will also complain to you, which is obviously undesirable. If you are trying to rent or sell units, unpleasant odors will turn away prospective tenants and buyers.

Reducing unwanted moisture

We mentioned mildew because improper air flow can result in excess moisture being retained indoors. This can result in mildew or mold hiding in places where it may not be seen, but it can be smelled and breathed in, causing respiratory problems. Excess moisture can also rot wood and cause other building materials, like drywall, to crumble. It makes the environment attractive to insects and vermin as well.

Preventing the spread of illness and respiratory disease

Air flow is related to the spread of illness and the exacerbation of respiratory conditions, like allergies, asthma, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Without adequate ventilation, colds, flu, and other viruses, such as the coronavirus, can circulate, never escaping the building.

Decreasing radon and carbon monoxide

Radon, a radioactive chemical element from the earth, is also a concern in the Northeast, including New York. Better air flow can reduce the presence of radon in buildings of all sizes, thereby decreasing the likelihood of radon poisoning.

Likewise, improved ventilation reduces the accumulation of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion reactions. It is produced by vehicle engines, but it is also created by furnaces, incinerators, fireplaces, gas appliances, and cooking. Carbon monoxide is deadly because it is odorless and binds more easily than oxygen in the bloodstream. Breathing in excess carbon monoxide can result in sleepiness, headaches, fainting, and even death.

Signs Air Flow and Ventilation Are Not Adequate

Stuffy air, moisture, and complaints of ill health

If the ventilation in your property is not sufficient, you’ll probably be confronted with several telltale signs. People will comment that the air smells unpleasant, whether inside their units or in public spaces. You may notice moisture in places where it shouldn’t be, including in dark corners or windows, or you might see mold growing. If the property has real hardwood floors, you may notice more swelling than what is expected with seasonal changes.

Tenants may also complain of health issues related to air flow, such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Headaches
  • Itching and hives
  • Increased medication and inhaler use
  • Increased need for oxygen tanks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Getting sick with colds, flu, or viruses
  • Sick building syndrome

You or your tenants may experience carbon monoxide alarms triggering. If you have radon monitors, you may see higher levels than normal.

Tips for Improving Ventilation and Air Flow

Natural ventilation

Depending on the time of year and your building’s architecture, you may be able to use natural ventilation to improve air flow. For most folks, this entails opening windows, and some may add window fans or summertime window air conditioners.

However, natural ventilation isn’t usually the best solution. The windows in some buildings don’t even open, making this impossible to rely on. Furthermore, opening a window can let in undesirable air full of car exhaust, soot, and particles tenants shouldn’t be inhaling. It’s a waste of money for you, the property owner, since having open windows usually means letting out expensively heated or cooled air. Therefore, natural ventilation has limited applications and should be used only when appropriate.

Spot ventilation

Spot ventilation is exactly what it sounds like: devices that can improve air flow in specific locations. A good example is an exhaust fan like the type you find over your stovetop or in the bathroom. Other types of spot ventilation include:

  • Floor and tabletop fans
  • Ceiling fans
  • PTAC (packaged terminal air conditioner) units
  • Portable air purifiers

While spot ventilation can alleviate air flow issues in small areas, it’s best used to supplement more comprehensive ventilation systems. This is a great solution for windowless bathrooms, small kitchens, alcoves, laundry rooms, sun porches, and additions. If excess moisture is a problem, you can add a portable dehumidifier to whatever ventilation you’re employing.

Large-scale ventilation

Whole-building ventilation is definitely the best solution for clean interior air. Even if your property uses steam heat via radiators in winter, you still want to freshen the air, and you certainly need air flow in summer weather.

Your HVAC specialist can handle your air conditioning, ductwork, and ventilation hardware. Where we come in is with your rooftop exhaust fans, which is perhaps the most important component in large-scale apartment ventilation.

Rooftop exhaust fans

Your exhaust fans need to be in tip-top running order 12 months of the year. There are lots of ways they can malfunction, however. Leaves, twigs, blowing trash, and other detritus can become lodged inside, inhibiting movement and the exhaust of spent air out of the building. Your fan blades can become corroded, rusted, dented, or broken, especially if exposed to extreme winter weather and ice buildup.

The unit will need periodic lubrication and checking to see if wiring, ball bearings, and the motor are all functioning properly. You should have your rooftop exhaust fans professionally checked at least twice a year, in fall and in spring, and whenever you have a problem with air flow or hear strange noises coming from a fan. Taking care of your exhaust fans can prevent other problems with your HVAC system down the line and ensure tenants are getting fresh air as spent air is removed from the building.

Schedule Your Rooftop Exhaust Fan Maintenance Now

Routine checks and repairs

With spring rapidly approaching, now is the time to schedule maintenance on your rooftop exhaust fans. At Antler Pumps, we check interior humidity levels, test the quality of your indoor air, and go over your fans to make sure they’re in shape for summer. If work is needed on any pumps or motors, we can either do it onsite or quickly at our in-house workshop.

Don’t wait for an air problem in your building. Stay on top of your routine maintenance by calling today at 212-534-2500, or use our easy online form to schedule an appointment at your convenience.


Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of Sanitaryplumbing.com.

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of omniagroup.nyc (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with omniagroup.nyc).

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Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

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The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

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This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since omniagroup.nyc does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

12. General

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: info@omniagroup.nyc.