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Filter Requirements for Apartment HVAC

Discussion in 'Residential Mechanical Codes' started by ADAguy, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

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    Code minimum vs mold prevention vs regular maintenance for habitability?
    Landlords duty to maintain?
    Life expectancy to ducted split system with roof mounted condenser and RA in ceiling soffit.
    If all windows are kept close where does Makeup air/RA come from?
     
  2. north star

    north star Sawhorse

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    $ ~ $ ~ $

    ADAguy,

    Lot's of questions in your OP......What are you trying to determine first ?
    Also, you did not mention anything about your Supply Air.


    $ ~ $ ~ $
     
  3. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Filters depend on lease agreement

    Make up air? Apartments not that tight

    Newer ones I see it brought in from outside.
     
  4. JCraver

    JCraver Sawhorse

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    I don't understand the question(s)??

    HVAC systems typically have filters. Who changes it depends on what the lease says, but it is ultimately the owners' responsibility. The manufacturer of the HVAC unit will provide instruction regarding filter type and size, supply / makeup / exhaust air requirements, venting requirements, etc. Life expectancy is short, like everything these days - if you get 15 years out of a new install, be happy. If there is mold, it is likely more a problem with the structure itself than the HVAC system, at least in my climate - I don't know if you sunshine guys have different considerations there.

    An aside - I would think mold should be pretty rare in CA, no? Or at least in Southern CA? How locked up tight would you have to have a place to grow mold where it doesn't rain and there's no humidity?
     
  5. tmurray

    tmurray Sawhorse

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    Split system as in heat pump?
     
  6. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

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    Yes, split system; Condenser on roof with furnace fan in a hallway soffit. It appears that exposed copper piping above return air filter door is sweating due to temp differential. Blower fan blades are collecting dust. Lab test indicates presence of some air borne particulates and mold spores. No visible mold spores on walls but an odor is noticeable.
     
  7. JCraver

    JCraver Sawhorse

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    Is it one of those off-the-shelf $10 lab test kits? Like Pro-Lab or something? I don't trust those much. There are mold spores present in virtually every bit of air on the planet - that $10 kit is always going to test positive for "mold". Just my opinion, but I wouldn't put any faith in those things if that's what you used.

    There's also dust pretty much everywhere. Spinning fan + moving air = accumulation of dust on fan. Clean fan periodically to make it go away.

    If you have condensation on a pipe, maybe try putting a piece of pipe insulation on it?
     
    tmurray likes this.
  8. tmurray

    tmurray Sawhorse

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    Is the mold test a qualitative test or quantitative test?

    I've been told that heat pumps need to be cleaned once to twice a year by a certified professional.
     
  9. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

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    no JC, an actual person from a lab came an took samples, did an analysis and bingo. Tenant is experiencing health issues from breathing the air, she has lived in the unit for 14 years. Only started to experience issues this year.
    Same building owner/manager.
     
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  10. JCraver

    JCraver Sawhorse

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    That makes more sense, and is (again, in my opinion) a much bigger red flag than a store bought test.

    It seems odd that condensation on a pipe could cause enough of a problem to lead to those issues, though, especially if there is no visible evidence of the mold. Is the house on a slab, or a crawlspace/basement? Have you looked in the attic? Can you get an HVAC company to send a camera down/through the ductwork?
     
  11. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

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    JC, 3 story apartment building (built 2004), tenant on 3rd floor. Some green growth on exterior plaster at condensate drain.
    Temp extremes from 72 to 111 during hottest periods.
    Ducts have been "partially" cleaned but tech not very professional.
     
  12. north star

    north star Sawhorse

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    # ~ # ~ #

    ADAguy,

    When the lab took samples, what was actually sampled ?
    The air only, ...walls, ...inside the ducting, other ?.....Point
    being that it may not be just the HVAC......Could there be
    leaks in the roofing system, ...draining down inside the
    walls ?.....We have this very scenario at one of our facilities.
    Possibly mold, but definitely mildew is present most
    everywhere on the interior......We are researching exact
    locations trying to pinpoint the source of the water intrusion.
    Water in the walls is leaching thru to the interior.

    Is the HVAC system in your application balanced, ...air
    filters being changed regularly ?......I have been told that
    clogged, dirty air filters is the number one cause of most
    HVAC system problems [ i.e. - who knows what all is living
    and breeding in clogged, rarely changed air filters ].


    # ~ # ~ #
     
  13. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Did they happen to sample other apartments.
     
  14. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    I have seen people live in the same unit for years

    Sometimes it is a pretty site,,

    A lot of times not very nice to be in.
     
  15. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    I am thinking

    If the tenant has been complaining for a long time and manager has not done anything,,,

    Problem

    If recently notified or manager has been trying to resolve the problem

    Than no problem

    Plus if recently manager has right to try to resolve the issue.
     
  16. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

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    CDA:
    1. Tenant has complained, management has been slow to respond or response has not been adequate. This has been going on for over a year. Attorney now involved.
    2. High end property
    3. City of LA has a regular program for inspection of units but does not do air tests
    North:
    1. No, no other units tested
    2. Filters only changed annually with code min. filters.
    3. HVAC Unit is 14 years old, at end of useful life?
    4. Fix appears simple but owner doesn't want to expend the money as he would probably have to replace all units (13) in building.
     
  17. JCraver

    JCraver Sawhorse

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    Mold is tricky. And just because she is sick and has a Dr. telling her it's because of mold, is the "expert witness" Dr. that the building owner hires during the trial going to say the same thing? And how do you know the mold that's causing her problems is from that building? Could it not be from work, or from a public place, or any other structure she regularly frequents? Does she have bad health habits that could exacerbate a problem that maybe wouldn't effect anyone else? Etc etc etc...

    Not trying to be discouraging, but I've seen this movie before. Unless there's a very obvious, well documented, independently verified case of severe mold within her unit, she's going to have a hard time winning any battles in court. Especially if no one else in the building has any issues.
     
    Ty J. likes this.
  18. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

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    JC, thank you for your comments, many are similar concerns as mine. It may come down to who has deeper pockets but if I was the owner/landlord I would make the necessary repairs as he has a good tenant and could create ill-will among the other tenants.
     
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