Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 13 of 23
  1. #1

    Dealing with downstairs smokers

    I live in an apartment style condo that is approximately 60 years old. A month ago smokers moved in directly downstairs from me. The smell is horrible, so much so, that a friend came over last weekend and asked if I had started smoking! I already have an air purifier that runs on high 24/7 and I think it helps, but not nearly enough.

    Our condos have separate HVAC units, but their air is making it into my ducts anyway. I noticed the smell was blowing into my home via the heat vents. I upgraded my filter to a 1500 merv and the smell is still there, but it's it's a little better.

    I also realized that the smell was coming in through the intake vents when the system wasn't running. The air blowing in the intake is horrible...like sitting directly next to a smoker. So, I started running the fan 24/7 just to keep the place pushing air OUT the intake vents, instead of into my unit. Even though that blows air in, at least it's filtered air, not direct, second hand smoke.

    Two questions:
    - I keep hearing that the higher MERV filters are not good for the furnace. I'd like to go higher to eradicate as much of the smell as possible, but would that damage my system?
    - What is the risk of running the fan all the time (aside from a higher electric bill?)

    Any other suggestions? Ideally, the ducts would be repaired, but sealing up my return ducts would require tearing apart the downstairs neighbor's ceiling (I have concrete floors) and I'm not paying for that expense...and it will be a heck of a battle to get the smokers to pay.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    6,840
    A 4 or 5" deep filter could probably be adapted to your return, the are less stressfull on the unit than the high merv rated 1" filters so you can go higher in merv. Also electronic air cleaners or charcoal filters work well to battle smoke. I guess you could even install a "smoke eater" like they use in bars if there isn't adequate room in return duct for an EAC or 4+" filter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    East coast USA
    Posts
    962
    MOVE

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by dlove View Post
    MOVE
    Ha! You make it sound so easy.... I'm not renting. I OWN the place. I've lived here for 10 years. In this market and the way condo values plummeted in my area, I'll never sell....at least not unless I'm willing to lose my shirt (and half my credit score with it.)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    1,675
    You might want to try either a stand alone Honeywell Electronic Air Cleaner or a duct mounted Honeywell air cleaner.

    Just pay attention to cleaning or replacing the filters as recommended depending which kind you get.



    Here is a link
    http://www.squidoo.com/honeywell-electronic-air-cleaner

    Also there are other potential remedies.....
    http://changelabsolutions.org/sites/...20120517_0.pdf
    Last edited by small change; 02-26-2013 at 08:12 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,373
    Quote Originally Posted by orangeena View Post
    I live in an apartment style condo that is approximately 60 years old. A month ago smokers moved in directly downstairs from me. The smell is horrible, so much so, that a friend came over last weekend and asked if I had started smoking! I already have an air purifier that runs on high 24/7 and I think it helps, but not nearly enough.

    Our condos have separate HVAC units, but their air is making it into my ducts anyway. I noticed the smell was blowing into my home via the heat vents. I upgraded my filter to a 1500 merv and the smell is still there, but it's it's a little better.

    I also realized that the smell was coming in through the intake vents when the system wasn't running. The air blowing in the intake is horrible...like sitting directly next to a smoker. So, I started running the fan 24/7 just to keep the place pushing air OUT the intake vents, instead of into my unit. Even though that blows air in, at least it's filtered air, not direct, second hand smoke.

    Two questions:
    - I keep hearing that the higher MERV filters are not good for the furnace. I'd like to go higher to eradicate as much of the smell as possible, but would that damage my system?
    - What is the risk of running the fan all the time (aside from a higher electric bill?)

    Any other suggestions? Ideally, the ducts would be repaired, but sealing up my return ducts would require tearing apart the downstairs neighbor's ceiling (I have concrete floors) and I'm not paying for that expense...and it will be a heck of a battle to get the smokers to pay.
    Your problem is an opportunity for us to practice the art of pollution control.
    During cold weather, the stack effect moves low warm air in the stack up through the structure out of the roof. Fresh air enters the low leaks and exits the top of the building.
    High merv filters are unable to remove gases in the air to cause odors/pollutants in the air. Your nose and lungs are much more sensitive than any filters ablillity to totally cleanse the air.
    The concrete floor between the condos will stop some of the air movement. To slow/stop the air movement from the stack totally, pressurize your condo with a small amount of fresh filtered outside air. This will overcome the stack effect and create your air space.
    Other than starting to smoke, this is the most effective method of clearing your air. You need a fresh air change every 4 hours. Start by adding 50 cfm of fresh air to your space via fan in a window, 24-7. Increase the fresh air amount until the smell goes away. The colder the outside air temperature , the more fresh air is needed to stop the smoke from moving up from the lower level out through the top of building.
    When outside air warms (spring/summer/fall), less outside air is needed to pressurize the space. A merv 11 system air filter will handle your air filtering.
    After experimenting with the amount of fresh air needed to pressurize your space, you need to heat/cool/humidify/dehumidify the space to be comfortable. Usually, the energy needed is less than couple hundred dollars per year. With good conditioning, your condo will be more comfortable and have better air quality than ever.
    In green grass climates, a small whole house ventilating dehumidifier is practical way of providing the amount of fresh air, filtering, and dehumidifying the space. You may need to add a humidifier for moisture during very cold weather.
    Check out the small Ultra-Aire Whole house ventilating dehumidifier with fresh air and extra filtration.
    Try the small fan in the window with about 50-60 cfm fresh air 24/7 for a couple days.
    This an example of low flow fan to put in partially closed window:
    http://www.homedepot.com/Heating-Ven...&storeId=10051

    This is a trickle of fresh air.
    If you want to resolve without experiamenting, have a a/c contract install the ventilating dehumidifier with fresh make up air.
    Keep us posted.
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    East coast USA
    Posts
    962
    Teddy bear hits it on the head...Prepare to spend a lot of money. Regardless how many air filters, air cleaners you have. Keeping your space in a positive pressure is the only way, you will have to become a clean room. So equipment will be needed and your operating cost will rise. Good luck.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    SE Washington
    Posts
    526
    actually running your fan continuosly will lower your bill and provide constant filtration, and its better for the motor then starting and stopping all the time
    Total Energy Management, inc

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Lubbock Texas
    Posts
    773
    You need to pressurize your apartment so the VOCs don't infiltrate your space.
    The premise of ventilation is that the OA is clean or of sufficient quality to be used for dilution. Traditional ventilation is somewhat being threatened by the fact that the EPA is changing the requirements for outdoor air quality which is creating non-attainment zones in what is now becoming a significant portion of the country. That means that buildings in those areas will need to clean up the OA before they bring it into the building.
    www.genesisair.com
    Genesis Air Inc.

  10. #10
    Teddy Bear, thanks for the advice. I'm definitely going to look into a window fan and see if it will be enough to keep the pressure up. I'm sure my furnace will run more with the cold air blowing in, but I'd rather have a higher gas bill than keep breathing my neighbor's toxic air.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,373
    Quote Originally Posted by orangeena View Post
    Teddy Bear, thanks for the advice. I'm definitely going to look into a window fan and see if it will be enough to keep the pressure up. I'm sure my furnace will run more with the cold air blowing in, but I'd rather have a higher gas bill than keep breathing my neighbor's toxic air.
    The key is to limit the amount of fresh air to just enough to pressurize the space. 60-70 cfm 24/7 will not raise your heating cost vary much. Maybe $1 per day max.
    Keep us posted. What is your climate?
    Regards TB
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by teddy bear View Post
    The key is to limit the amount of fresh air to just enough to pressurize the space. 60-70 cfm 24/7 will not raise your heating cost vary much. Maybe $1 per day max.
    Keep us posted. What is your climate?
    Regards TB

    I live in the northeast...20-30 degrees right now. But the extra cost will be worth it!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Amarillo by mornin'
    Posts
    853
    Quote Originally Posted by orangeena View Post
    Any other suggestions? Ideally, the ducts would be repaired, but sealing up my return ducts would require tearing apart the downstairs neighbor's ceiling (I have concrete floors) and I'm not paying for that expense...and it will be a heck of a battle to get the smokers to pay.
    Everyone else is correct with slightly pressurizing the space, but if part of your return is their space and it's not sealed very well, your ALWAYS going be bringing in THEIR air. If your furnace/AHU is physically in your space, I would personally cap off the ducted return and make the return at the unit, if possible. I know it's not ideal to do that, but in your situation it doesn't sound like you have much choice in the matter.
    "It's not that I'm smart, it's that I stay with the problem longer”
    Albert Einstein

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Comfortech Show Promo Image

Related Forums

Plumbing Talks | Contractor Magazine
Forums | Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine
Comfortech365 Virtual Event