Oh, Chute! Maintaining Your Building's Circulatory Systems

Winter is here, and it's time to shut the doors, seal the windows, and crank up the heat in a quest to stay toasty warm. Unfortunately, while you work hard to thwart the wintry weather on the outside, the air inside your building may be getting more stagnant and - at times - downright smelly. Now is the time to clean your building's ventilation systems and trash chutes to help keep the air smelling fresh and clean.

The Air in There

"Less fresh air coming in from the outside means that there is more air recycling around inside for a longer period of time," says Scott O'Rourke, president of A-1 Hydro, a chute and vent cleaning company in Mount Vernon, New York. "The air recycles and leads to a buildup of dust, bacteria and other contaminants."

"The reason the air in the hallways is stagnant and humid is because apartments are like communal living," says Craig Berlin of ChuteMaster Environmental Inc., another chute and vent specialist located in Union, New Jersey. "You are living with the habits of everybody in your common area."

Your building's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit provides conditioned air into your apartment. Before the air gets to the conditioning unit, it passes through a filter designed to protect the mechanical equipment from becoming contaminated by large particles of dust and debris. Many HVAC filters commonly used today do not prevent small particles of dust and debris from entering into the system and over time, these deposits may form sizable accumulations.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if a ventilation system is not properly maintained, it may become contaminated with particles of dust, pollen or other debris. If moisture is present, the potential for microbiological growth is increased, and spores can be released into residents' living space, creating health problems for the residents, their guests, even their pets.


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  • managing agent for condo building at 301 e 79 street in manhattan claims that vents cannot be cleaned ----- sounds improbable.
  • As a condo unit owner who lives across the hall from the trash chute, my unit is very hot in the winter. I think it is connected to the chute which is heated. When you open the door, the blower is on high and a gush of hot air blows out. Should trash chutes be heated?
  • I appreciate the information on maintaining your building's circulatory system and garbage chute. I agree that it is important to keep your chutes clean and make sure that you are keeping them properly maintained so you can ensure the health of yourself and those around you. My mom has been smelling some things around her apartment, I will be sure to share this information with her.