HVAC instructor uses a water bottle to explain condensation to TV reporter Jon Delano
When the media calls, PTC answers. KDKA-TV reporter Jon Delano was on assignment: schools delaying the first day of class due to the discovery of mold in classroom buildings. He visited Shaler Area High School and talked to students to get their reaction. Then, he visited PTC to talk to our expert. PTC HVAC instructor Scott Lynch provided Delano with a tour of the HVAC Lab to point out the cooling system components critical to good air quality. Then they sat down to explain the principle of water condensation and how proper maintenance during the summer, especially one as wet and as damp as the summer of 2018, is important to maintaining air quality and avoiding ‘sick buildings’ which are conducive to contaminants. PTC HVAC students will tell you Mr. Lynch is passionate about this subject and that certainly comes across in this interview.
(This story first aired on KDKA-TV during the 6 pm news broadcast, and appeared on KDKA.com on August 28, 2018 at 7:43 pm.)
Schools Delayed: Mold, Air Quality Issues Postpone Beginning Of School For Thousands Of Area Students
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — First mold in the Pine-Richland School District, and then in the Plum Borough School District too.
Now, it’s Shaler Area High School, which was supposed to open Aug. 29, but is now delayed until Tuesday, Sept. 4.
But Shaler is hardly alone with these issues. Poor air quality, even mold, it seems to be happening in a lot of school districts these days.
So what’s going on with the HVAC systems that control air quality in a building? And why are they discovering these problems just a few days before school starts?
Scott Lynch teaches heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, to students at the Pittsburgh Technical College, and he says a number of factors could be in play.
“Equipment, of course, has to be maintained properly,” Lynch told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday. “And [it] has to be run even year-round in order to keep the air quality the same year-round.”
Shutting down HVAC in school buildings for the summer can create problems. But a bigger problem is the humid, muggy and wet weather this summer, ideal conditions for mold.
“As the warm moist air goes up against the cold bottle,” says Lynch, holding up a cold water bottle, “then, of course, the moisture in the air will condense out and cause the condensation to develop around the bottle and so on. And, so, you have a moist condition where mold and mildew and other conditions can begin to take place.”
And nothing beats an annual HVAC check-up.
Lynch: “Make sure that the duct work is clean, and the coils are clean, and it’s well-maintained, and you have sufficient fresh air brought in.”
Delano: “And to do it earlier in the summer?”
Lynch: “Yes, absolutely.”
Back in Shaler, school officials, on Monday, sent an email to students and parents telling them there was a concern over air quality, but the high school was opening on time on Wednesday, Aug. 29. Twenty-four hours later, they had a different story.
“Obviously, I’d like to start right now,” said senior Monte Miller, of Reserve.
“Actually, kind of surprised. I was ready to go back,” noted senior Madison Donovan, of Shaler.