Concern: Northfield Elementary School: October 9th, 2023 (CXXNES20230002CC)

Date of IEQ Report Form
Date of Report
A malodor was reported in the main office.
IEQ Investigation Process

Identify deficiencies that may impact IEQ and/or sources of odor concerns. Typically includes the following depending on the nature of concern, but not limited to:

  • interview/questionnaire of concern individual(s)
  • inspection above drop ceiling (condition of roof deck, pipe insulation, return air plenum)
  • inspection of ventilation system (operation of variable air volume box and outdoor air dampers, check controls, measurements of carbon dioxide, temperature and relative humidity, sources near outdoor air intake, measure return and supply air volume, cleanliness of coils, liner and condensate pan)
  • inspection of exterior
  • inspection below drop ceiling (housekeeping, sink and floor drain traps, signs of past and present moisture concern via visual and/or moisture meter, mold growth, ensure connection of current and capping of abandoned sanitary vents, odorizers, excessive plants and fabric items, identify potential pathways, and measure volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and lighting)

Date(s) of Assessment: October 6 and 12, 2023

During the October 5 visit an intermittent odor was sensed. The odor was compared to a "spice" odor but a source could not be identified. 

The Air Handling Unit (AHU) located on the roof was assessed and found to not be functioning. This unit is responsible for delivering outdoor air to spaces for general dilution. 

Each compartment in the unit was assessed for an odor. No odors were sensed, however multiple drain traps were observed. The Office of the Environment requested Building Maintenance (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)) charge the drain traps with water in case they had dried out. Building Maintenance (HVAC) performed this work on the same day (Work Order #302372). 

Occupants believed the odor would originate from the supply diffusers closest to the exterior windows. These supply diffusers are serviced by a single Variable Air Volume (VAV) box. The Office of the Environment would later return to assess the VAV box with the assistance of an HVAC technician. 

An odor was not identified the morning of October 12. 

An air purifier was located in the general area where the odor was believed to be originating. The air purifier was dissembled. No mal-odors were identified within the unit. 

With the assistance of an HVAC Technician, the VAV box was assessed. No concerns or odors were identified with the VAV box or the associated filters. However, an opening was observed in a "T" joint associated with the units condensate drain. Although no odors were sensed at the location of the joint, there is a potential for sewer gases to backflow through this opening depending on pressure differentials throughout the day. 

Building Maintenance (HVAC) capped the opening and no odors have been reported since.

Corrective Actions
October 5th, 2023

A work order was submitted to assess the VAV box above the drop ceiling in the Admin area. An uncapped joint was identified and capped. 

Date Closed
Tracking Number