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Is “Sick Building Syndrome” a Sign Your Business Needs a New HVAC System?

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is becoming a growing concern for Portland business owners. Low IAQ can present a host of problems, from allergies to fatigue and even an illness known as sick building syndrome. As business owners know, unhealthy workers mean lower productivity and lost money. How can a new HVAC system or regular maintenance mitigate this problem? Our Portland commercial HVAC installers explain the details below. 

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a chronic medical condition experienced by multiple people that share the same work or living space. In cases of SBS, cohabitants will suffer similar symptoms with high frequency. If you’ve ever experienced an office environment, for example, where you and your co-workers couldn’t seem to shake off an “office cold,”  this might have been a result of SBS. Typically, sick building syndrome affects a large population of those in the same building and presents with some of the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Throat discomfort
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Chest irritation and coughs

While symptoms mimic the common cold, allergies, or even the flu, SBS is caused by external factors, not common viruses that are easy to identify. SBS is also chronic, so flare-ups happen often.

What Are the Main Causes of Sick Building Syndrome?

Causes-of-sick-building-syndromeWhat makes SBS unique over the common cold or springtime allergies is that the condition directly stems from the building itself. Often, if someone suffering from SBS removes themselves from the environment, the symptoms subside. Causes vary widely and can include anything from an abundance of ozone in the air to pesticides, to formaldehyde found in floors. 

Poor indoor air quality, however, is sometimes the number one culprit for instances of SBS. Thankfully, general commercial HVAC maintenance can help alleviate low air quality. If your occupants start experiencing SBS problems when your heating and air conditioning unit is turned on seasonally, your system might require a check-up. What role could your HVAC play in contributing to SBS? 

Here are some leading causes:

  • Insufficient Ventilation: HVAC systems support good air quality through adequate ventilation. If your commercial heating and cooling unit isn’t functioning correctly, your building could have ventilation problems.
  • Damaged and Dirty Ducts: Air ducts can become host to various biological contaminants, like mold, pollen, insects, and rodent droppings. As these contaminants accumulate in your ducts, they can be recirculated throughout your commercial space every time your heating or cooling system is engaged. 
  • Poor Air Filtration: Mold, mildew, pollen, and bacteria can negatively affect indoor air quality and have been linked to SBS. Clogged air filters can let contaminants escape into the air and increase humidity levels leading to mold and mildew overgrowth.

Want help diagnosing any potential heating and air conditioning issues for your Portland business? Contact our team of dedicated commercial HVAC contractors and schedule a consultation. 

How Can Commercial HVAC Services Help Alleviate the Risk of SBS?

Even though SBS causes can be challenging to pinpoint, you can take a few precautionary measures to mitigate some common reasons it occurs. At AAA Heating and Cooling, we recommended the following air conditioning and heating measures:

  • Clean and replace air filters regularly, and invest in high-quality filters to maximize filtration.
  • Keep your ducts healthy by scheduling a thorough HVAC duct cleaning to remove debris and check for any leaks or tears.
  • Perform annual commercial HVAC maintenance to promote good IAQ all year round.
  • Consider upgrading your heating and air conditioning equipment to ensure top performance. 

The Best Commercial HVAC Services & Installation in Portland

A leader in the commercial HVAC community for over 50 years, AAA Heating and Cooling provides exceptional service, skilled technicians, and unparalleled customer service. Let us take care of all your heating and cooling needs. To assess your IAQ and get your HVAC unit in prime shape, let our Portland sales and installation team help.