by Jeff Hauser
While there are many benefits to living in a high-rise like ours, there is always the danger of taking too much for granted, of overlooking the boundaries that separate our lifestyle choices from those of our neighbors.
Here in Park Tower, we live close to one another. Once the door is closed, it’s so easy to forget that someone’s bed may be just inches away, on the other side of an interior wall.
This is the first in a series of columns, the purpose of which will be to describe how such problems – often called “nuisances” in our Rules & Regulations Handbook– arise and how they can be avoided.
TowerTalk and Management are working together to produce these columns, so as to make the information easily accessible to all owners and residents. We’ll start with perhaps the most common complaint at Park Tower.
Why Smoke and Odors?
Our building was constructed with air circulation in mind. Walk around the hallway on your floor, and you’ll spot a large vent at one corner. Huge fans on the roof suck up fresh air and force it down and through these vents, into interior hallways. From there, it enters individual units through the gap under our entry doors. After circulating – and now laden with whatever odors permeate our units – it’s exhausted via the vents in our bathrooms and kitchens.
Or at least those are the intended exits. Air wants to move from more pressurized spaces to those with lower pressure. Holes in the wall and open windows present such an opportunity.
“But I don’t have any holes in my wall,” you protest. Ah, but you do! Electrical receptacles on either side of a wall would be one example, the pipes that feed faucets, toilets, and air conditioning another. Those holes may be concealed, but they are there.
Opening a window presents another instance of unequal air pressures. Doing so either lets air escape (and possibly get sucked into an adjoining unit), or reverses the intended airflow by pushing it back under your entry door and into the hallway, where it awaits entry into other units on your floor.
These peculiarities of air movement are exacerbated by our building’s shape. The triangular construction causes it to act a bit like the wing of an airplane in windy conditions. That is, wind passing around a 55 story corner creates turbulence that challenges nearby pedestrians and flexes our glass curtain wall.
Being close to the lake also creates considerable temperature variation between inside and outside, especially in Spring, and also within the building, between its top and bottom halves. As a result, air moves vertically within the building, seeping through gaps between the curtain wall and concrete floors. In that situation, smoke and other smells can and do flow to units both above and below.
What to do?
OK, how can you minimize the likelihood that smoke or cooking odors might escape your condo, your own personal living space? We suggest the following.
Airtight our units will never be, nor should they be. But following the steps above will support a more pleasant living experience for all residents.
And if I forget?
Management and the board take smoke/odor issues very seriously and consider them rule violations. (See the Rules & Regulations Handbook, under the Library tab at www.ptcondo.com)
Residents themselves are the key to enforcement. Please direct complaints to management during office hours, and at other times to the doorman. Someone will come to investigate and write it up.
Depending on the circumstances, it can take some time to track down the source of smoke and other odors. The key is to report it when it happens and management will keep trying until they find it.
Management includes a summary of complaints in its weekly report to the board. When a pattern of violations is established, the board refers it to the Rules & Regulations Committee. Smoke and odor violations usually begin at $250, and they go up dramatically in cases of non-compliance.
Please be assured that we at TowerTalk do not have all the answers! Please email email@example.com with your own take on situations you read about here, or let us know how you and your neighbor resolved your own, particular problem.
TowerTalk would like to thank Tim and the management office for providing information for this and the columns that follow.