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To Flush or Not to Flush

by Andy McAllister

Remember that scene from the Meet the Parents sequel when Greg’s father, played by Dustin Hoffman, is giving a tour of the house, but the toilet is “on the fritz?” He says, due to the water shortage, “if it’s brown, flush it down; if it’s yellow, let it mellow.” This might be an appropriate strategy for water conservation, but more importantly consider an efficient plumbing fixture that uses less water so you can always flush. The same is true about an air flush prior to the occupancy of a construction project, it should not be a question.

Why flush the air?

Just like the analogy above, no one wants to use a dirty facility after someone else has contaminated it. During construction, many sources of potentially harmful chemicals are introduced into a facility. This could be through paints and other finish materials which contain VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Cabinets and other building materials contain chemical stabilizers and glues. Furniture fabrics and foams contain chemicals/dyes, and carpets are similar. All these materials “off-gas” or release these potentially harmful substances into the air as time passes, effectively “yellowing” the air that we breathe, even though we can’t see it. This is especially true when they are brand new.

Dust is another potential concern created from nearly any construction process. Any time that a material is cut, small particles of that material are scattered into the air. Mixing of materials, such as drywall compound, tile thinset, grout and adhesives are messy and dusty too. There are also general environmental items like dirt, gravel dust, and pollen, which can be tracked into a building and leave brown stains if not properly addressed.

Construction is a messy process. A good, professional contractor should maintain processes and procedures to contain and reduce the amount of dust created on the jobsite. This is a benefit for their employees and the future occupants of the building. Then, once work has been completed, perform a thorough final cleaning of all spaces to remove any remaining debris. We should not just stop here. We should flush.

The air flush process is a great final step to help clean air and get it ready to be inhabited. In an air flush, clean, filtered, conditioned outdoor air is forced through the space, replacing the “dirty” air from inside. This process reduces the potential exposure to chemicals/toxins from such an intense contamination period — that is construction. Clean air has many positive benefits on a variety of systems in the body. The respiratory system is eased by not having to filter chemicals in the lungs. The immune system can relax, not having to fight off contaminates. The integumentary (skin) system is kept clean, and the cardiovascular system is eased in conjunction with the respiratory system. This not only creates a cleaner, healthier environment, but also helps reduce stress and sicknesses, which we all need. Any future occupant whether employee or customer, guest or homeowner will greatly appreciate the benefits of breathing clean, high quality air. So please, flush. We don’t need those dirties just sticking around!