While there is no guaranteed way to eliminate all pathogens from the air in your building, there are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of spreading them through your building via your HVAC system:
- Clean and disinfect your HVAC components
- Install MERV-13 filters
- Install in-duct air ionizers
- Optimize the fresh air mix
1. Clean and Disinfect Your HVAC Components:
As air moves through the HVAC system, particles in the air stick to and accumulate on system components. We recommend a proper cleaning of the indoor air coil and blower motor fan. These components can accumulate a lot of dust and debris over time. In addition to helping with the indoor air quality, clean coils and fans make your equipment run more efficiently.
Dirty surfaces increase surface area and therefore increase the area for pathogens to get lodged. Some, like bacteria and fungi, can even breed on the surfaces.
2. Install MERV-13 Filters (At Minimum)
Now that your coils and blower fans are clean, let’s keep them clean. An upgraded air filter will keep particles out the air stream. We recommend MERV 13 at a minimum, at this rating the filter is tested to remove particles in the size range of the respiratory droplets which can carry the virus.
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is rated on a scale of 1 to 16 with 16 being the highest level of filtration.
Standard air filters are MERV-8 and can trap mold spores, hair spray, and cement dust.
MERV-13 filters begin to trap bacteria, tobacco smoke, and droplet nuclei (from sneezing, for example).
In addition to upgrading the filter efficiency, we will adjust your HVAC system to run the fans during all occupied hours for your building. After all if the fan is not running it’s not filtering the air.
3. Install In-Duct Air Ionizers
The ionizing technology attacks and kills viruses, mold spores and bacteria. The ions steal away hydrogen from the pathogens, leaving them to die, and leaving you with clean and healthy indoor air.
They also reduce airborne particles (i.e., dust, pet dander, pollen) through agglomeration. The ions attach to the airborne particles. The particles are subsequently attracted to one another, effectively increasing their mass and size. The air filtration system easily captures the larger particles, increasing the capture efficiency of your HVAC system.
Air ionizers (or ionisers) have been used to eliminate the occurrence of airborne bacterial infections, lower airborne viral infections (more info). The research is scant, but there have been some test cases where certain bacterial diseases have been eliminated in hospital settings, and viral diseases greatly reduced.
We offer simple, reliable systems which can be installed in most HVAC units starting at less than $1000 per unit, depending on the size of the unit.
4. Optimize Fresh Air Mix
Commercial buildings all have a required amount of fresh air to be brought in from outside. If the fresh air is inadequate that means that the air (and respiratory droplets) your employees and customers exhale are staying in the building longer with more potential to be inhaled by someone else. The Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) of fresh air required is calculated during the design process of the building, and the requirement depends on several factors including how many people are in the building, and what activities take place in the building. Over time, these systems can become out of balance for several reasons: a piece of equipment might be out of service, improper adjustments, changes to duct work over time, or even changes in use or occupancy.
Unless a building has a dedicated outside air unit, most systems are designed to handle 10% outside air, and most engineers design the buildings this way. As part of our regular planned maintenance we verify that each HVAC unit is set for about 10% minimum outside air, and that economizers are working properly. Also, that any dedicated fresh air units and exhaust fans are working properly.
For older buildings it is sometimes beneficial to recommission the building, doing a full test and balance to make sure that the building is operating per the original engineered plans
Contact BlueHat Mechanical For A Free Consultation