Common HVAC Issues in Older Apartment Buildings

Is your apartment making you sick? If you are getting headaches and feeling nauseous it could be because you have mold or other allergens in your older apartment’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. Many older apartments have, you guessed it, older heating and air conditioning systems – and you are lucky if you get a ventilation system that can adequately clear out moisture and humidity, which could cause mold to grow. Because many older apartments weren’t built with the modern amenities that we’ve come to know and love, they mostly had to be added later. Think of it like trying to put an Mp3 player in an old Chevy. Upon installation, many HVAC specialists had to find workarounds to make them work, which further contributed to their inefficiency. Here are some common HVAC issues in older apartments.

First of all, noise is a big issue. If you already live in an older apartment, you probably hear wood creaking and other mysterious sounds all through the night. However, in the winter or summer when you are blasting your air conditioner or heater, and you start to hear a rattling or pounding sound, chances are that this that is your HVAC system. It might be that a bracket has come loose or perhaps there is a leak that needs to be fixed. It should be rectified, though, because letting the problem go on could result in a number of other problems down the line.

Next, mold is another big problem. Because many of these older apartments don’t have adequate ventilation, mold spores – some toxic and deadly – can start to grow behind the walls. If you start to notice black mold you should definitely get a specialist in to diagnose the problem. The most common place for mold to grow is in the bathroom or kitchen. You might even see mold around your window and door frames if you live in an area that is particularly humid.

Another big HVAC issue is dirty ducts. Over time, the air ducts of your heating and A/C system can start to get a little on the filthy side. When you turn on your system, dust, pet dander and other allergens will spread these pollutants through out the home. In this case, it is recommended to have an HVAC specialist come in and do a routine ductwork cleaning. They will go inside the system with special tools to make sure they are free of any of these indoor air pollutants. If you live in a particularly older apartment, the situation could be dire.

Lastly, energy inefficiency is another big problem with it comes to older apartments. With poor insulation and ventilation you have a nasty combo. Many windows in older apartments are an energy efficiency nightmare. If you have to use the heating and air conditioning in the winter and summer months you could be faced with enormous energy bills and the lingering question: “Why is the apartment never cool or warm enough.” This is because most of the warm and cool air is escaping – forcing you to turn the dial up higher and higher on the thermostat, which is ultimately a fruitless attempt. At the end of the day, you might want to do some light caulking around any air leaks in windows and door frames. It might also be useful to wear a sweater instead of turning on the heater or taking off a few layers when it’s too hot.

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