What is that odor?
Odor complaints are
among the most common complaints received.
If an odor is apparent in many rooms (i.e.,
the entire floor or wing of a building), it's likely the odor is being distributed by the
supply air system itself.
Occasionally there is an odor source near the
air intakes for the building. In these circumstances odors may be from vehicle exhaust,
work performed on/near air intakes, and work performed inside air handler rooms.
The vast majority of odor complaints affect
only a single room or suite. This usually means the odor source is somewhere in the room
with the smell. It often seems the smell is coming from the vent. This is because the air
moving from the vent pulls room air along with it, giving the impression that the supply
air is the cause.
Odor sources may
- Dry drain trap. This is a common
odor source. The smell comes and goes and may, at times, be very strong. It is often
a rotten egg smell, but is sometimes described as a chemical odor. Sink and floor drains
are equipped with a trap, usually in the form of a U-shaped pipe. Liquid is trapped in the
bend and forms a seal, preventing sewer gases from escaping out of the drain into your
work area. In general, campus rooms are maintained at a negative pressure. Consequently,
if the trap is dry, any odor in the sewer can be pulled into the room. Dry traps are often
found in cup sinks (those little sinks in the middle of lab benches), floor drains, sinks
covered by equipment, and open condensate drains.
Recommendation: Run water in all sinks and drains at least once a month. Then, pour a
couple of tablespoons of mineral oil in to prevent the water from evaporating. If
that is unsuccessful, call or email the PPD Service Desk or Environmental Health and
Safety for assistance.
- Natural Gas leaks - Smells
like Natural Gas.
What to do? Call the NMSU Police at 911 or 646-3311
- Forgotten/lost food - Perishables
occasionally fall behind a desk and food can be placed in drawers and forgotten. These
smells tend to be localized to a room and remain fairly constant over the course of a day
(as opposed to dry traps which can vary greatly in intensity over short periods of time).
What to do? Search your area; look in drawers and behind furniture
- Dead animals - This smell is
Call or email the PPD Service Desk.
- A fluorescent light ballast - A
smell of burning plastic confined to a single area may be a failing light ballast.
Check to make sure there is nothing else burning (computer monitors as well as other
equipment may fail and smoke). Turn off power to any equipment that is failing. Call or
email the PPD Service Desk for ballast evaluation and replacement.
||Yes, in the interest of employee and student
health, the use of volatile organic compounds (solvent-based glues, adhesives, paints and
other solvent based materials) in occupied NMSU buildings is limited to areas with extra
ventilation, to trained personnel, and to only approved compounds. Please see policy on hazardous materials - volatile