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Why Living Above the Neutral Pressure Plane May Make For A Stinky Situation

May 17, 2017

Living a few floors up in a high-rise apartment can allow for some fantastic views, but did you know that living above the neutral pressure plane may make smells from the floors below rise up to your apartment? Every building has something called the neutral pressure plane, an area of neutral pressure where the air pressure within the structure is equal to the pressure outside. A single-story house will also have these varying levels of pressure, although the effects are amplified the taller a building becomes. So, what is a neutral pressure plane, and how does it affect your comfort?

The Neutral Pressure Plane

Simply put, the neutral pressure plane is the area within a building where there is no difference in pressure between the inside and the outside. Its location within a building is completely dependent on the amount of air leakage that occurs throughout the structure. More air leakage higher will make the neutral pressure plane occur lower in the building, and vice versa. Because of the differences in air pressure, the area below the neutral plane will draw in air, while the area above the neutral plane will expel air, in a constant battle to neutralize pressure. The neutral pressure plane is directly related to something Great Northern Insulation knows quite a bit about, the Stack Effect. The Stack Effect phenomenon means that air infiltrating the building on the ground level will flow upwards, exiting through the uppermost floors (in the Summer, this effect is reversed and you get the Reverse Stack Effect!). The taller a building, the stronger the Stack Effect! The Stack Effect and the Neutral Pressure Plane - Great Northern Insulation

The Effects

So, why does this matter? If your unit is located above the neutral pressure plane, you may notice some uncomfortable effects. For starters, it makes your unit more prone to air infiltration, meaning that smells below may waft up to you! Food being cooked a few floors down may have scents that can enter your home. On top of that, you may find that the garbage chute begins to smell worse, or that you can't keep the temperature consistent within your unit.

The Solution

All of this adds up to a frustrating and uncomfortable living experience, and for good reason! Thankfully, both the Stack Effect and the effects of living above the neutral pressure plane can be fixed. Minimizing air leakage within the building is one of the most effective ways of mitigating negative air flow effects. Great Northern Insulation's professionals will address every problem area within the building and provide a strategy with cost-effective solutions to each area of concern. This may include full air sealing, replacing or improving on insulation, improving ventilation, or the optimization of HVAC systems. The end result will be an improvement to the comfort of your house, apartment, or entire building complex. Together, we can make everyone's lives more comfortable!

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