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Old 07-28-2011, 01:51 PM   #1
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


My neighbors are smokers who smoke right outside our building, and in front of my townhouse. The condo association tells me that the venting systems are all separate, and the only way my vents are shooting out air that reeks of smoke, is by someone smoking in front of the return, and the air getting sucked in. Does this sound like it could be the case? I'm so sick of the smoke smell, but I'll be so glad if I found the cause and can fix it, and rid my house of it. Thanks!

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Old 07-28-2011, 02:23 PM   #2
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


Makes sense.

If your outdoor air intake is near their smoking spot it will certainly suck it in, or at least enough that'll you'll smell it.

You may look to see if there are any exhaust vents from their house in close proximity to your air intake. There should be at least 10' of difference between the exhaust and intake.

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Old 07-28-2011, 02:29 PM   #3
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


The exhaust vents are all on the rooftops (I am in a townhouse style condo). Their HVAC unit is directly next to mine, however.
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:32 PM   #4
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


Check for air leaks at the units, if they smoke inside then smoke is traveling through their unit. If there are air leaks in the duct connections then it could be migrating over to yours.
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:34 PM   #5
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


Where do I check for leaks?
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:46 PM   #6
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


the only way i see 4 u to b getting any odor from outside is if you have a system that brings in air from outside. some systems have a "fresh air intake" connected to your return air plenum. there would b a 6" or 8" pipe running from your furnace to the outside. they r normally controlled by a timer. if u have 1 turn it off and you shouold no longer bring in outside air. if u don't have 1 then u have a different problem.
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Old 07-28-2011, 03:04 PM   #7
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


This isn't my unit, but here are what they look like. My unit and my neighbor's unit both look like the one on the left. However, I don't think they smoke inside their house. I know my neighbor on the other side does smoke inside, but his unit is more than 10 feet from mine.
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:02 PM   #8
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


put some towels tightly on the bottom of your door. I have lived in lots of apartments and most of these bldgs have a negative pressure coming into your unit and bring in odors and smoke. if it stops then you know you have a draft entering your unit.
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:04 PM   #9
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


There is somewhat of a draft - my front door does need replacing. I can see how that would draw in the smoke odors, but it doesn't explain why it's pouring out of my vents?
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:10 PM   #10
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


Don't know. Hard to see your setup from here and my crystal ball went AWOL.
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:15 PM   #11
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


What about starting to smoke. You will stop to see your neighbor
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:25 PM   #12
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


Cook with LOTS of Curry. I always hated the hallway being full of the neighbors concoctions.
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:26 PM   #13
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


Here are a couple of older photos I happen to have on hand (prior to painting that ugly trim). I can take some more when I get home. The HVAC unit is inside a closet to the left of the door, where you see that small vent.






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Old 07-28-2011, 05:27 PM   #14
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


Hahahaha! I hate the smell of curry, and I'll never start smoking. But I'm sure they hate me just as much because my dogs can be LOUD barkers.
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:39 PM   #15
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Cigarette smoke coming in from outside through HVAC return?


Actually I have started to like curry and spicier different foods ever since my sister married into an East Indian family. They eat their samosas like us Ukrainians eat perogies. Big on garlic us Slavs are.
There may be a fresh air intake into your furnace return duct but usually the smoke concentration gets diluted enough to not be a problem unless they stand within a foot of it. More of a problem in Commercial bldgs and hospitals where large groups of smokers stand in front of the air intake outside. Get a Bionaire or Oreck air purifier/ionizer if you cannot solve the problem.

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