Problems with air-management system could extend beyond odours

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

Bad ventilation causes bigger problems than odours

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

How do we get our strata council to keep the interior fresh-air system in our building? To save money, the owners decided last year to put the system on a timer and that resulted in more frequent breakdowns and maintenance. Our service company has advised that the system needs to be replaced as parts are not longer available. Unfortunately, our owners have chosen to ignore this advice and we have been without a system for six weeks. The odours in the building are disgusting and the hallways are now humid. How do we get this issue moving forward?

Irene M., Coquitlam

Dear Irene:

All modern multifamily buildings have some sort of air-management system. The systems are commonly known as “make-up air units, hallway/corridor pressurization or fresh-air blowers”. They are managed to deliver fresh air into the building to control odours, humidity, the buildup of potentially harmful gasses and to provide a pleasant living environment.

If your building has an elevator lobby in the parking garage, fans must operate continuously to prevent carbon monoxide from migrating to the business and homes. 

In highrises, corridor pressurization systems play an important role during fires. Each building, depending on age, design and use, will have different demands for air-management systems and different locations and types of pressurization units. Many older buildings still have gas-fired systems that come winter, owners discover haven’t been working for years when the hallways are flooded with icy air. A customized service contract for your building will ensure predictable cost and performance of your system.  

In your situation, your building does have a vestibule and lobby in the parking garage and your strata is required to maintain your hallway pressurization system 24/7, so in addition to the increase in odours in the building, the owners are unaware they are likely being exposed to other hazards. After all, elevator shafts are simply large chimneys.  

All strata corporations must maintain and repair common property and common assets, which includes hallway pressurization systems. If your strata corporation does not meet its obligations under the Strata Property Act and the bylaws of your strata corporation, an application to the Civil Resolution Tribunal may be a solution. The CRT, at, has the authority to issue orders that require strata corporation to maintain and repair common property and there is no limit to the cost of the repairs that may be affected. 

Metro Vancouver just launched a strata energy advisor program to help councils look at their options for increasing performance, reducing cost and reducing energy consumption. For more information, go to For more information on hallway pressurization systems, go to, and join us May 12 for an energy symposium and visit the Metro kiosk.

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