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Commercial HVAC & COVID-19 Prevention

Posted on: January 10, 2021

We’ve always known that HVAC systems were vital to the comfort of our homes and places of business. What we may not have been as aware of, until the global pandemic, was the role that heating and cooling systems play in our health and well-being. Your commercial HVAC units can play a critical role in making it safer for workers and customers to return when the various COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. For instance, HVAC systems can help with improved ventilation and filtration, which can help reduce the spread of the virus. There are also air cleaning devices that companies can invest in to better protect their employees and customers.

Acosta Heating & Cooling is happy to consult with you on a preparedness plan for your commercial HVAC system. Give us a call at 704-527-7401 to discuss a personalized approach for your business.

Benefits of Proper Airflow and Ventilation

Ventilation in a building or business is important, not only for lowering the risk of COVID-19 but also for other health reasons. For instance, poor indoor airflow can cause the development and growth of mold. There are also indoor and outdoor air contaminants that can cause health problems without proper ventilation. These include appliances that burn gas, which can generate carbon monoxide and other particulates, or outdoor allergens and mold spores that are pulled inside via the HVAC system. That is why experts recommend the use of filters with a MERV rating of 6-8, although filters with a higher MERV level can capture even smaller particles when they’re paired with an appropriate HVAC system. MERV filters with ratings of 17 or higher are considered comparable to HEPA filters. However, most commercial buildings typically only have a MERV level of 12 or lower.

To promote the proper airflow in a building, be sure that all vents are open and not blocked by any items. Opening windows and doors when possible isn’t always the ideal solution, as this can introduce outdoor contaminants and the airflow may not reach all parts of the building, but for short periods of time, it can be helpful.

Regular HVAC system maintenance will help with airflow by eliminating any contamination in the duct lining or in the coil or filters. Bacteria or mold in these areas can be pulled indoors and spread throughout the building. Additionally, it is vital that your business have a properly sized HVAC system. A system that is too big or oversized can cause poor air distribution, as well as insufficient dehumidification. The result is stale air and the potential for mold growth.

Air Purifiers and Filters

One step in creating a safer environment at a business involves the effective use of air purifiers and filters. These devices should not be considered the sole line of defense, but some of them may be a good starting point. Other types of air cleaners, such as UV lights, can render some microorganisms harmless, though research is limited on how they affect the virus that causes COVID-19.

Air purifiers help to remove particles and other airborne contaminants when used properly. According to the EPA, they work best when paired with additional outdoor ventilation or as part of a larger air quality plan. To be considered effective at reducing airborne contaminants, including particles containing viruses, they should be able to remove minuscule airborne particles. Different manufacturers report this in different ways, typically mentioning the size range of the particles (between 0.1 and 1 microns). Others may indicate their product’s clean air delivery rate (CADR), which measures the rate at which smoke, pollen, and dust are removed from the air. Any filter labeled HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) must remove 99.97% of particles of 0.3 microns or larger, per the U.S. rating system.

At Acosta Heating & Cooling, we are familiar with all professional guidelines from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and we will be happy to review your specific building and HVAC system to determine the best options for your business.

How HVAC and IAQ Can Reduce Infection Risk in Commercial Spaces

Improving the air quality in your workplace can go a long way towards reducing individuals’ risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 or any other airborne virus.

One idea is to increase the rate of exchange between fresh air from the outside. Doing this will reduce recirculation of air. A technician can configure a ducted HVAC system to do this; another option is adjusting the systems’ settings to prevent the HVAC system from shutting down overnight or on weekends when a business may be closed. Having the HVAC system run without interruption increases air replacement, lowering the chance of airborne transmission of viruses like COVID-19.

If your business location has been vacant due to the pandemic, or only used sporadically, there are some things you should do before you reopen to ensure air safety for customers and staff. For instance, check the building for any hazards due to a long period of disuse, such as mold growth, that could impact the air quality. Likewise, make sure the HVAC system is operating properly. A maintenance check may be a good idea to verify that everything is in working order and to determine if any filters need to be replaced. Regular maintenance of your commercial HVAC unit plays a major role in improving the indoor air quality at your business and protecting your employees and customers.

Another option is to put more partitions or barriers in place to separate open spaces in a business. This also can help manage the airflow. Finally, open the windows and doors for a short period, if it is possible, to increase the circulation of outdoor air. For more suggestions, the EPA offers some guidance on what businesses should consider in evaluating their indoor air quality, as does the CDC.

Acosta Heating & Cooling is your one-stop shop for all of your indoor comfort needs. We’ve been serving the Charlotte area for more than 45 years. No matter what your business’s HVAC needs, Acosta will always deliver. Contact us today at 704-527-7401 to see for yourself why Charlotte businesses depend on us for their HVAC service.