Team discovers source of odor issues and improves air quality

When visitors walked into the Police and Utility Department Facility years ago, they detected a musty smell. Since its construction in 2000, officials looked for solutions to resolve the odor issues, but nothing worked. In 2017, our professionals joined a design team that addressed building envelope issues and improved indoor air quality.

During the initial walk-through, our team discovered clues that led to the source of some of the problems. Our engineer observed a loose floor tile and high humidity in interior spaces. Then they found improperly sealed floor drains and related plumbing.

In the large community room, an inappropriate floor leveling compound was used that absorbed and retained odor. Crews later removed the material and replaced the flooring.

Inspection Uncovers Deficiencies

Our team was told we would discover a properly functioning HVAC system. Instead, we found numerous deficiencies. The system’s controls and configurations did not help reduce humidity or provide proper ventilation. The main air handling unit continually discharged 60-degree air. It should have been set at 55 degrees to remove moisture and dehumidify the air.

Enhanced Air Quality

We provided the following HVAC system improvements:

  • Reset the system’s pressure (in reference to the outdoors) to neutral or slightly positive instead of the existing negative pressure
  • Improved poor airflows to a 30 percent minimum to provide good ventilation for each room/zone
  • Corrected controls for the return fan that had reduced the amount of outside air being brought into the facility, adding to the negative pressure issue
  • Installed a freeze protection pump to the air handling
  • We added space humidity sensors and logic to the air handling unit controls to improve ventilation and actively dehumidify the space. With our HVAC enhancements, the system now provides a fresh environment for the building’s workers and visitors.

Pearson was an integral member of our team and discovered issues missed by contractors and all the previous consultants. Their members were critical to the success of the project and saved the client money because the City didn’t have to replace the entire HVAC system.

- Tom Gernetzke, Owner of Building Envelope Professionals Group, Oregon, Wisconsin