Tenants of Dubai Marina development lose their cool over malfunctioning air conditioning
DUBAI // Tenants at an upmarket Dubai Marina apartment complex are being forced to move out because the building’s air-conditioning is not functioning properly and they are fed up relying on electric fans to beat the heat.
Many frustrated and angry residents said this was the third summer that the cooling towers at the Trident Marinascape, facing the scenic Marina Walk, had caused problems, but that this year was worse, with temperatures touching 29°C and 85 per cent humidity inside their homes.
The development comprises two towers – Oceanic and Avant – and has a total of 200 apartment units, 13 villas and 23 retail outlets, including several restaurants.
“I can no longer stand the heat,” said Sammy Abassy, a tenant who moved in to the Oceanic Tower two months ago but is terminating his contract next week.
“There is no air conditioning in the apartment. I can’t live here any more. I just can’t breathe. It’s hot and humid and the temperature is always around 27 or 28 degrees.”
Mr Abassy, whose two-bed apartment is rented for Dh170,000 a year, said his landlord had promised to return the remaining 10 months rent once he vacated the apartment.
“When I moved in, the landlord and Place, the facility management company, promised the air conditioning would be resolved in two days. But it hasn’t happened and there is no guarantee it will,” he said.
The owners association and the facility management company blamed the lack of cooling on the four faulty cooling towers initially installed by the developer, Trident International Holding.
The developer, whose half-constructed Pentominium tower was supposed to be the tallest residential building in Dubai, disappeared in 2011 after defaulting on a Dh75 million loan.
“The problem with the towers are due to Trident putting in substandard cooling towers,” said Alan Godfrey, one of the members of the owners association, who has blackout curtains and numerous fans throughout his 27th-floor apartment.
“The design from day one was never going to work and the towers were undersized and overworked. Now, the shafts and the gearboxes in the cooling towers are breaking down. We ordered new towers from Belgium to replace them and they arrived here in February. But the new towers are heavier and are way bigger than the ones that were installed. We need to take out the concrete plinths on which the old towers are standing to install the new ones. The problem is Trident never left proper drawings with the Dubai authorities, so it is a lot of guesswork.”
Installing the new towers requires permission from various authorities, as well as the go-ahead from architects and surveyors.
The association, however, expects the new cooling towers to be in place by November. One of the steps taken to keep the cooling towers cool is to drop nine tonnes of ice into them each day to reduce the temperature of the water going through the chiller that makes the air-conditioning cool.
Yet the tons of ice have had little or no impact for some tenants.
“The temperature is an average 29°C in our house,” said Ziad Ayad, who has been living in the Oceanic Tower for the past two and a half years.
“It is next to impossible to reach below 27°C.”
Mr Ayad, whose one-year-old daughter and wife have taken temporary refuge overseas because of the situation, said his kitchen ceiling was covered in fungus and mould.
“The master bedroom ceiling looks like it is going to collapse because of the sheer level of humidity and water collection in it.
“We don’t believe air conditioning or clean air is a luxury in Dubai, but a necessity to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Tor Fosse, another tenant, agreed.
“The humidity inside the house is higher than outside and often goes up to 85 per cent in the evenings,” he said.
“At night, the floors are damp, our pillows are damp. There is mould growing everywhere and that is dangerous and a clear health hazard. I had to do something and bought myself an air cooler and a dehumidifier, which gives only a little relief even if running day and night.”
Mr Tor said the structural design of the towers was flawed and the exhaust ducts used by the numerous restaurants in the basement were on fire last month.
“The fat accumulation in the ducts caught fire from cooking in a restaurant.
“The ducts should generally run along the entire length of the building and open to the skies. Instead, these two ducts open near the swimming pool on the first floor. We can’t use the pool or the gym because there is so much smoke from the restaurants.”
The facility managers are optimistic that the new towers will be installed soon but declined to give a time frame.
“With the developer not being there, we have no drawings or technical specifications,” said Edward Sanders, chief executive of Place. “We are getting structural surveys performed. But the job won’t happen overnight.
“Our heart goes out to the tenants and the owners. Short of divine intervention, we are doing our best.”
Attempts by The National to contact Trident were unsuccessful.
How it should work
The water from Dubai Electricity and Water Authority generally reaches building pipes at temperatures of between 40 to 50°C. The water is then cooled down to about 30°C or below by the cooling towers before it is sent to the chiller. The chiller further cools it down to between 6°C to 8°C, after which it is circulated to cool air in people’s homes.
Alan Godfrey, a member of the Owners Association, said that since the cooling towers were worn out, the 9,000kg of ice and additional mobile chillers were used every day to reduce the water’s temperature in the towers. The water is cooled to between 36°C and 38°C, depending on the humidity.
“The towers are never working efficiently to cool that water. We have to help it along by trying to get it down to a certain temperature,” he said.
Instead of the ideal 6°C to 8°C, the temperature of the water when it leaves the chiller is between 12°C and 13°C. Thus, the cooling in people’s homes is an average 27°C, depending on the humidity and outside temperature.
Updated: August 14, 2014 04:00 AM