As the world rang in the 2020 New Year, every person on the planet had no idea that the first cases of COVID-19 had begun to spread. The disease, also known as SARS-CoV-2, began in Wuhan, China, and has led to discussions regarding HVAC systems and ventilation.
Because the virus is known to be spread through contact, respiratory droplets, and airborne transmission, poorly ventilated indoor areas have been targeted as transmission sites. Although more studies need to be completed in order to truly understand this virus, it is obvious that poorly maintained HVAC systems play a major part in helping the spread of Coronavirus particles.
How the Virus Spreads
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that the “SARS-CoV-2 transmission appears to mainly be spread via droplets.” Because of this, when a person sneezes, coughs, or speaks those droplets can end up in the mouth of anyone who is within 6 feet. Face masks have proven effective at preventing these droplets from being ingested, but the trouble is that no one knows how long these droplets will stay in the air.
Can an HVAC System Spread Coronavirus?
HVAC systems are known to bring in outdoor air and send out the same amount of indoor air. When an HVAC system is properly maintained and up to date, this air exchange should dilute and remove contaminants in the air. This might include particles, chemical emissions, or even odors that come from people.
The trouble is that some systems do recirculate indoor air. This can be due to how the system is set, or because all of the parts are not working properly. This does have the potential to spread viral particles. Despite this, at the time of publication, there are no known transmission cases of COVID-19 due to an HVAC system.
How to Prevent COVID-19 By Using Your HVAC System
Proper ventilation has been proven as a preventative measure for reducing coronavirus transmission. With better ventilation comes less possibility of spreading droplets.
The WHO has a few recommendations on how to prevent COVID-19 by utilizing your HVAC system:
- Increase air filtration as high as possible without diminishing design airflow.
- Inspect filter housing and racks to ensure appropriate filter fit.
- Check for ways to minimize filter bypass.
- Have regular maintenance performed and keep parts up to date.
- Run the HVAC system at maximum outside airflow for 2 hours before and after spaces are occupied.
How to Improve The Ventilation and Filtration of Your HVAC System
Modify Your Coil System
If you are looking to increase outside air in your commercial space, it might seem like an easy task. Unfortunately, doing this while reducing the possibly infected inside air is not as simple as it sounds. Your system also needs to be able to handle it. Because the coils in an HVAC system is essentially how the system produces cold air, they are responsible for outside air intake as well.
In your HVAC coil system, the refrigerant is pulled through the tubing in the coil. This absorbs heat and cools the hot air. Depending on your HVAC system, you can increase the rows in your coil system. This will, in turn, increase the amount of outside air being brought through your system. Whether you have a system that requires customized coils or want to avoid ordering pricy parts from your OEM, contact us for a quote.
HEPA Filtration Upgrade
One recent developing recommendation is that all commercial HVAC systems should be modified to use High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. HEPA filters are a type of mechanical air filter. It is effective in removing small particles in the air. It does this by forcing air through a fine mesh-like material.
According to the EPA, in order to be HEPA certified in the United States, filters must remove 99.97 percent of particles of 0.3 microns. This filter is able to trap harmful particles, including droplets that contain COVID-19.
Take Steps to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus
The role of the HVAC system regarding the spread of coronavirus is not 100% known or tested. What is confirmed is that a higher level of ventilation provides you with the knowledge that you are doing the most to provide a safe indoor space.
Rahn Industries is a commercial HVAC coating and coil provider. We can offer a variety of information on how to improve the ventilation of your HVAC system while saving you money. If you are concerned about the spread of COVID-19, looking to upgrade your HVAC system, and want to do your part to keep your community healthy, contact us today.