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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    erv condo, odor transfer to the corridors

    Hi,

    I live in a new condo building in Toronto which uses the ERV system with individual fresh and exhaust vents for each unit and separate ones for the corridor and the front doors are weatherstripped to lower air transfer between the units and the corridors. There was never any cooking odors in the corridors until suddenly since about two months ago at about the same time a few nights a week there is strong cooking odors in the corridors, so strong that it seeps into my condo from around the front door and if you open the door it is quite warm and smelly, like you opened the door into somebody's kitchen. New neighbors have also moved into a unit on our floor at that time. I know that they don't keep their front door open when cooking, so what could be causing this?
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    So. NH
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    796
    Can the tenants shut their Erv's off?

    Just a guess but thinking the new tenants might not have realized what it was and shut it off.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Yes! I think people might confuse it with the bathroom fan and just turn it on when using the bathroom. Would the ERV being off cause this much air to come into the corridor though?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Suppy NC
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    4,516
    it is also possible the evr in the hallway needs to be serviced
    or isnt working

  5. #5
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    Dec 2011
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    They say they checked the corridor erv and it works fine. Does cold weather affect how well these things work? Also, can they increase the pressure in the corridors so it wouldn't allow the air from the condos to come into the corridor?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    So. NH
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    Quote Originally Posted by torontoq View Post
    Yes! I think people might confuse it with the bathroom fan and just turn it on when using the bathroom. Would the ERV being off cause this much air to come into the corridor though?
    I would suggest a letter to everyone from the condo ass. reminding everyone on the proper use and advantages of the ERV's first.

    As far as it being off causing air to move into the hallway is hard to say without being there. It is possible with it off for there to be pressure difference, it is also possible they have a window open.

    To your question on increasing hallway pressure I wouldn't, that would also force that air into your apartment.

    Try a little experiment. With your door slightly cracked open do you feel air moving either way? Try a little smoke from something to see.
    Try it with your ERV on and off.
    Last edited by stvc; 12-26-2011 at 11:03 PM. Reason: added experiment

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    17
    Hi,
    I did the experiment. Air flow is from the corridor to my apartment both with erv on and off. It's stronger at floor level, but even up at the top of the door there is a slight flow inward. Comparatively when I open the balcony door the flow is from outside in up to 4 feet and inside to outside above that. I had to actually really seal around my front door for this cooking odor to not come inside.

    so with this info, does it mean they would have to have their window open for the odor to come inside the corridor? Could there be some problem with that unit's insulation/weatherproofing?

    Also, when you have the erv on, other than the vacuum produced by the bathroom fan, does it actively suck in air from the outside? because the vents are near the top of the ceiling, so based on the balcony door experiment, air wouldn't naturally flow in from that height right?

    Thanks

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    So. NH
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    Quote Originally Posted by torontoq View Post
    Hi,
    I did the experiment. Air flow is from the corridor to my apartment both with erv on and off. It's stronger at floor level, but even up at the top of the door there is a slight flow inward. Comparatively when I open the balcony door the flow is from outside in up to 4 feet and inside to outside above that. I had to actually really seal around my front door for this cooking odor to not come inside.
    What I gather from this is your unit is under negative pressure with respect to the hallway [WRT] Try the same experiment at your balcony door to determine your unit pressure WRT outside.
    so with this info, does it mean they would have to have their window open for the odor to come inside the corridor?
    No, I only used that as an example of something else that could change the pressure in the building
    Could there be some problem with that unit's insulation/weatherproofing?
    Yes, but there may also be something elsewhere. Multi family buildings can be a challenge for many reasons. Amongst them users with different habits and knowledge, and of course the building itself. I'll try to keep this simple but it won't end up that way. The outside walls are the pressure and thermal boundary, all the walls inside are just rooms in the building. Think single family house, your bedroom is your unit, your brothers bedroom is his unit. It's hard to separate them.
    Also, when you have the erv on, other than the vacuum produced by the bathroom fan, does it actively suck in air from the outside? because the vents are near the top of the ceiling, so based on the balcony door experiment, air wouldn't naturally flow in from that height right?
    Yes, The concept of the ERV is that it takes air from the outside and tempers it with the air being exhausted thus recovering the energy and providing fresh air. There are a couple other very knowledgeable folks on this site with expertise in this area, surprised they haven't chimed in. Will see if I can get their attention.

    Thanks
    Hope this helps, BTW, how many floors, units, and what floor are you on?
    Last edited by stvc; 12-27-2011 at 11:07 PM. Reason: added question

  9. #9
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    Dec 2011
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    it's 24 floors I think 8 to 10 (less on upper floors) units per floor and I'm on 10th.

    at the balcony, from about the door handle downward air comes from outside to inside, from the door handle upward air goes from inside to outside. Also we keep the place pretty warm, around 80 degrees and outside is around 40ish.
    Last edited by Canadaq; 12-27-2011 at 11:48 PM. Reason: more acurate info

  10. #10
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    Location
    So. NH
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    Quote Originally Posted by torontoq View Post
    it's about 20 floors I think 10 or 12 units per floor and I'm on 10th.

    at the balcony, from about the door handle downward air comes from outside to inside, from the door handle upward air goes from inside to outside. Also we keep the place pretty warm, around 80 degrees and outside is around 40ish.
    I had no idea the scope of this "condo unit" but that is why I asked.
    There are really complex things going on in a building that size, stack effect being the most relevant in your case. The primitive tests I had you do don't sound like things are too bad though. How is the comfort and energy use?

    If you are adventurous and have the time to do some research google stack effect and we can go from there.

    Your problem probably won't be solved on this forum but may generate some informative discussion.

  11. #11
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    Dec 2011
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    so stack effect means, basically if you are on the lower floors in winter a lot of air is sucked in from outside, especially with the window open? the thing is the problem started also with the weather getting cold, so the new neighbors might be a coincidence.

    how can I produce positive pressure in my unit so that at least the smelly corridor air doesn't come in?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    17
    and there is a big temp difference from floor to ceiling. like, you can't get the floor warm no matter how high you set the fan coil.

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by torontoq View Post
    so stack effect means, basically if you are on the lower floors in winter a lot of air is sucked in from outside, especially with the window open? the thing is the problem started also with the weather getting cold, so the new neighbors might be a coincidence.

    how can I produce positive pressure in my unit so that at least the smelly corridor air doesn't come in?
    I think you have the basic idea, but there should be building controls to balance things out. Think of it this way, you live in a 24 floor chimney, probably around 240' high. The colder it is outside the better the chimney drafts, or wants to expel air out the top. Absent any control if you open a window on the 1st floor you would be blown down.Middle floor [or neutral pressure plane] nothing happens because it's the same pressure as outside. Top floor you get sucked out!

    All kidding aside there is probably nothing "you" can do, it needs to be building management.

    Do you know of others experiences on different floors?

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