What you should know about Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) concentrations levels

An unintended consequence of tightened energy conservation in buildings has been the rise in refrigerant leaks due to formicary corrosion. Construction materials in new buildings have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that off-gas in these buildings. Common cleaning agents also off-gas VOCs.

In sufficient concentrations, VOCs attack copper tubing used in air conditioning systems, resulting in formicary corrosion, refrigerant leaks and diminished HVAC system capacities.

Causes of the high VOC concentrations levels may include:
  • Because energy conservation measures can “tighten” building envelopes, ventilation air quantities may not remove enough of the VOCs to keep VOC concentrations below potential corrosion levels. 
  • Designer misapplication of ventilation systems.
  • Designer misunderstanding of the ASHRAE Standard 62; Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality.
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