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

In a multifamily building with scores, 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. Air conditioning, climate control and proper handling of waste play a huge role in maintaining not only quality of life, but health as well.

Maintenance and Upkeep

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.

“For example if you have a building in Midtown Manhattan or downtown Chicago, it's subject to a variety of different types of pollutants; everything from construction dust to traffic fumes. So you may want to clean your ducts more often than if you are on a farm in Vermont,” says Weekes. “You make sure to gear the frequency of cleanings based on the amount of pollutants you have coming into your ventilation system.”

“The cleaning of duct work is dependent on each individual’s indoor air,” says Bill Benito, ASCA, and president of The National Air Duct Cleaners Association of America (NADCA). “Do you have dogs? Do you have cats? Do you have allergies? Do you have a lot of dirt collecting surfaces like rugs and curtains? There is no easy answer to how often ventilation systems should be cleaned. “

“You should have ducts cleaned only as needed. Ducts have to be inspected and based on the inspection then we recommend you have it cleaned, or not,” says Mike Zouak, CIH, president of Airtek Environmental in New York City. “If there is any visible mold in sight then it should definitely get cleaned. If the ducts are insulated and the insulation gets moldy then it cannot be effectively cleaned, it needs to be replaced. “


Related Articles

Assessing & Improving Indoor Air Quality in the COVID Era

Buildings Need to Breathe

Heating Options for Multifamily Communities

Get Warm, Stay Warm

Environmental Irritants

Managing Residents’ Chemical Sensitivities

Maintaining Air Quality

Managing the Indoor Environment

Climate Act Compliance

Buildings Must Lower Emissions to Avoid Heavy Fines

Saving on Energy Cost, Reducing Waste

How Thermostatic Radiator Valves Can Help



  • How does the Manufacturer of an air filter know how dirty the air is that you run through your filter and how much dirty air you run through it? Following manufacturer's recommendations to change filters would be like following manufacturer's recommendations to fill your car's gas tank - not a very wise thing to do.