The COVID-19 pandemic has everyone worried all over the globe. At such times, many myths and misconceptions do the rounds. Everything is hearsay, and you don’t know what to believe anymore. The fact is that the pandemic hit suddenly and completely. People were taken unawares. Scientists and companies had no time to carry out studies that would definitively prove or slash a theory. Instead, people started guessing based on what is known about similar viruses. Today, we aim to provide you all the necessary information regarding COVID-19 & your HVAC system through this article.
Summary Of What Is Known About COVID-19 & Your HVAC System
1. Studies have confirmed that the primary spread is through direct contact with an already infected person. Mainly it spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These actions disperse the water particles (saliva or mucus) holding the coronavirus. When inhaled by a healthy individual, it infects them.
2. Another source of infection is by touching a surface that is contaminated with the virus. The heavier droplets settle on surfaces like doorknobs, tabletops, computer monitors, light switches, etc. When a healthy person touches any of these contaminated surfaces and later touch themselves, they, too, can get infected.
3. Small coronavirus particles of approximately 0.1 microns, when airborne, can travel large distances. The heavy droplets (5 microns to 10 microns) of coronavirus particles can only travel short distances (less than a meter) before they settle. While the smaller droplets may evaporate, leaving behind just the virus particles. These can remain suspended in the air, in an active state, for as long as three hours. As per the revised WHO guidelines, there is a possibility of airborne transmission of the coronavirus indoors, particularly in crowded rooms having poor ventilation.
COVID-19 & Your HVAC System
HVAC systems usually circulate indoor air. In theory, this could scatter the aerosol particles containing the virus throughout the enclosed space. As on day, there is no conclusive proof of COVID-19 spreading through a ducted HVAC system. No studies have proven it one way or the other. Yet, the experts claim that airborne transmission is likely. Even WHO has released an advisory on the same. According to them, small water droplets containing the virus can stay airborne for quite a few hours. The presumption is that while airborne, the particles may enter the air distribution system and spread through the building or home.
Limiting The Spread Of Coronavirus Through HVAC Systems
Limiting the spread of the coronavirus through the HVAC system is possible. Essential is to keep in mind that none of these methods are a 100% guarantee of safety. Yet they provide reasonable relief. Let’s have a look at some of these mitigating strategies.
1. Installing UV Lights – UV light or the ultraviolet light is known to destroy the coronavirus. In reality, it can kill 90% of all microorganisms present on the evaporator coils and inside the air ducts. However, the percentage can vary depending on the intensity and length of exposure. You can install UV lights in your HVAC system. The choice is between “Coil Sterilization UV Light” and “Air Sterilization UV Light.”
A. Coil Sterilization UV Light – Herein, a stick type UV light is mounted facing the evaporator coil. It runs non-stop to sanitize the coil. This type of UV light is the most common for HVAC systems.
B. Air Sterilization UV Light – Herein, an entire UV light unit is installed within the return air duct to sterilize the moving air. This UV light system cycles on and off in conjunction with the blower fan of the air handler.
2. Using HEPA Air Filters – HEPA, or High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters, are intended for use where the pollutants must be caught the first time itself. HEPA filters are 99.7% efficient. It means they can catch up to 99.7 percent of all undesirable elements, 0.3 microns or bigger. The high particle capture rate of the HEPA filters also has a disadvantage. They are more resistant to airflow than the regular MERV filters. It means the blower needs to work harder to drive air across the filters. In the process, the system consumes more energy. Nevertheless, a bigger energy bill is a smaller price to pay to keep the coronavirus at bay.
3. Better Ventilation – Ventilation allows for fresh air to enter the home and the stale to leave it. This simple process dilutes the concentration of the virus particles inside the home. One can achieve improved ventilation by installing exhaust fans and opening the windows from time to time.
4. Increasing Humidity – An increase in the humidity levels is known to deactivate the airborne particles of the virus. During winters, we tend to keep our homes closed and warm. Humidity, too, is low at this time. When it comes to viruses, this presents an ideal setting for them to thrive and remain active. Increasing the humidity damages their outer membrane and makes them more prone to destruction. Conversely, high humidity also keeps our mucus membrane moisturized, enhancing the body’s defense system against the virus. Though the increase in humidity may reduce your comfort, it will keep you and your family relatively safe.
5. Installing Sophisticated Air Purification Systems – Today, there are many sophisticated air purification systems available in the market like the whole home air purifiers. Some of these systems are ionization-based that effectively destroy the virus particles. Though these systems have a hefty price tag attached, yet they offer considerable protection from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.
In The End
Using the HVAC system during the COVID-19 pandemic does not make you susceptible to catching it. You can continue using the home’s heating and cooling system without any fear and ensuring good ventilation at all times. If any family member falls prey to the illness, you can employ one or more of the above mitigating strategies to minimize its effect. Additionally, follow all the safety rules of social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing hands frequently to stay safe.
At Aztil Air Conditioning, we recommend using the health and safety protocols to remain safe and healthy. We urge you to pay special attention to y our HVAC unit’s maintenance schedule and not be afraid to call the technicians if you notice anything strange. Ignoring the problem will only make it bigger in proportion and more difficult to handle. Our technicians will ensure your safety at all times by strictly following the pandemic safety procedures. You can rest assured that we will take care of you and your HVAC unit as well. Residents of West Palm Beach, Florida, can contact us anytime at +1-888-729-8452. We are open 24/7 and will be glad to be of assistance.