Is Your HVAC System Ready for COVID-19?
The spotlight is on indoor air quality as COVID-19 continues to change the way we look at the world outside of our homes. While there is still much to learn about COVID-19, there is strong evidence that it spreads through the air from person to person. Organizations such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued statements and guidelines related to the indoor spread of the disease.
Consumers and employees are demanding a safe environment for shopping, business, schools and entertainment. In order to satisfy these expectations, now is the time to re-evaluate your commercial HVAC system.
Indoor Air Quality and HVAC Systems
Fortunately, there are several emerging technologies that boost the ability of commercial HVAC systems to control airborne pathogens—including the type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19. None of these technologies can be 100 percent effective; however, when properly installed and maintained, they can have a dramatically positive impact on indoor air quality.
The practicality, cost and effectiveness of each of these technologies depends on the size of your building, how the solution is installed and used, the details of your particular HVAC system and other factors. For that reason, it is important to call on the experience and expertise of a professional organization such as CoolSys—the nation’s leading company for HVAC installation and repair.
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In localities that have reopened, business leaders, school officials, and others have already taken many steps to make their facilities safer. Some have installed physical barriers, made corridors one-way, increased the frequency of cleaning, and widened the space between desks.
Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2
There is overwhelming evidence that inhalation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) represents a major transmission route for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is an urgent need to harmonize discussions about modes of virus transmission across disciplines to ensure the most effective control strategies and provide clear and consistent guidance to the public.
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The CDC recommends that building owners and managers take specific steps to improve indoor air quality and combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus and other airborne pathogens. There are a variety of advancements in HVAC technology that can help to accomplish these recommendations. Click/tap the + icon to learn more.
Please note: These HVAC solutions should not be used as the first line of defense against COVID-19. These technologies are considered secondary environmental controls.
Solutions to Improve Indoor Air Quality
High Air Filtration (MERV and HEPA)
A filter’s ability to capture and hold airborne particles is expressed by its MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV ranges from 1 to 16; the higher the number, the better the filtering. ASHRAE reports that filters with a MERV of 13 or higher are efficient at capturing airborne viruses, and that a MERV of 14 or above is preferred. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters remove at least 99.97% of airborne particulates, providing even better efficiency than a MERV 16 filter. Upgrading the MERV of your air filters may be a relatively inexpensive solution if you are already using a fairly efficient filter. However, it is important to consult a professional before making these changes. Increased air pressure from the higher-MERV filters can have a detrimental effect on your system if it is not sufficient to handle these filters.
Ultraviolet Germicidal Lights (UV-C)
Although all ultraviolet (UV) light can kill or deactivate pathogens, the UV-C wavelength is the most effective. These specialized lights can be placed within or outside of HVAC ductwork to inactivate viruses, bacteria, mold and fungi. In general, the UV-C wavelength is safe for humans, although protection from exposure—especially for the eyes—is necessary. Since UV-C does not physically remove the neutralized pathogens from the air, it must be used in conjunction with a proper filtration system.
High Ventilation (Outdoor Air)
Mixing a higher than normal amount of conditioned outdoor air into recirculated air can improve indoor air quality under certain circumstances. The most common ways to achieve high ventilation are to use an air economizer within the existing HVAC system and/or to add a dedicated outdoor air unit, also known as a make-up air unit. Important considerations in this strategy include the level of allergens and pollutants in the outside air, as well as extremes of temperature and humidity in the area where your building is located.
With this technology, an electronic device creates charged atoms from oxygen molecules. These atoms attach to airborne particulates—such as mold, bacteria, allergens and viruses—deactivate them and make them large enough to be trapped by filters. Air ionization may reduce the need for outdoor air in the overall system, although a trained professional is required to make this determination.
Maintaining optimal temperature and humidity in a conditioned space can often help to minimize growth and spread of airborne pathogens and other contaminants. In fact, according to the American Society for Microbiology, an indoor relative humidity between 40% and 60% may help to limit the spread and survival of the virus that causes COVID-19. Using a humidifier within the HVAC system and/or dehumidifying the air with a re-heat process or other technique can help to achieve and maintain the proper humidity.
Make your facility safer, today!
In today’s world, a safe indoor environment is key to earning the trust of your customers and reliability of your employees.
If it’s time to upgrade your commercial HVAC system, CoolSys is here to help. As the nation’s leading HVAC company—with 1,850 trained technicians—you can rely on us to expertly install and service your HVAC system.
It is important to keep in mind that your system was designed specifically for the original scope and intent of its use.
Successfully modifying and upgrading equipment requires the expertise and experience our CoolSys technicians can provide. We will help to ensure that your upgrade meets all standards of safety and efficiency, giving you peace of mind in an HVAC system that will serve your needs for years to come.
Contact us today for a quote or to learn more about our services. Multi-location discounts are available.