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Will VOC's from paint travel through flooring of apartment?

I have a severe allergy to anything new (carpet, paint, most flooring, etc.). I currently live on the 2nd floor of a 3 story apartment building. I just found out that the tenant above me will be moving out - so the apartment will be painted and prepared for the next tenant. My concern is that the VOC's from the new paint will pass through the flooring into my apartment. Is this something that occurs rapidly almost effortlessly, or something that is rather slow? I really appreciate your time.

Asked by Trent Pain
Posted Aug 26, 2012 5:56 PM ET

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Trent,
It depends on several factors, including:

1. Whether the separation between your apartments has been properly air sealed. (Often there are air paths between apartments, due to wiring penetrations, plumbing penetrations, and sloppy construction practices.)

2. Whether your neighbor's apartment is pressurized or depressurized with respect to your apartment. (From your perspective, depressurized would be good -- pressurized would be bad.)

If your neighbor runs a supply fan to bring in outdoor air, that will help odors migrate to your apartment. If your neighbor runs his or her exhaust fans, that will reduce odor transfer.

If you run your exhaust fans, you will also help odors migrate from your neighbor's apartment to yours. If you run a supply fan, you will limit the transfer of odors from your neighbor's apartment.

So, I advise you to pressurize your apartment if you are worried. Put a fan in one of your windows; the fan should blow in. Run your exhaust fans as little as possible.

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Aug 28, 2012 7:37 AM ET
Edited Aug 28, 2012 7:40 AM ET.

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