Even before the pandemic began, facilities managers understood the importance of indoor air to the health and safety of building occupants. Of course, COVID increased the attention paid to proper ventilation. As a result, smart building managers developed plans to keep their HVAC systems in peak condition. For those who’ve yet to take this step, ASHRAE provides guidance on HVAC testing and ways to achieve acceptable IAQ.
Setting the Standard for HVAC Testing
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) focuses on indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and sustainability within buildings. The organization’s ASHRAE 62.1 standard for ventilation ensures acceptable indoor air quality.
This standard received updates prior to the COVID pandemic and will likely see a review and updates with new information learned as a result of the virus. That said, one thing that remains important at any time is the need for HVAC testing.
The ASHRAE Standard for HVAC Testing
The impact of poor indoor air quality is well known. We know it affects cognitive learning in classrooms. It also results in more missed days for workers which leads to a loss of productivity. Dirty systems also work harder and result in more maintenance calls and higher energy costs. At the very least, unclean air leads to symptoms of dizziness and headaches for some building occupants and may trigger allergy and asthma symptoms in others.
ASHRAE Standard 62.1 sets the minimum ventilation requirements for nonresidential buildings. This helps create the best indoor air conditions to keep building occupants safe. The standard gives guidance on procedures pertaining to IAQ, ventilation rates, and natural ventilation. The guidance evolves over time and will likely do so as a result of the pandemic but ASHRAE 62.1-2019 is the latest version.
Operations and Maintenance
An important part of achieving IAQ goals is to create and maintain an operations and maintenance (O&M) manual. The manual should detail procedures, schedules, maintenance, and repairs as well as HVAC testing for microbial growth. The standard advises facilities managers to create an operations and maintenance manual for the ventilation system’s equipment or components. It should also be updated as needed, accessible, and kept on-site. This manual should include guidance on the following.
1. Ventilation System Maintenance
The O&M manual should include instructions on the maintenance of the entire system and corresponding parts.
2. Drain Pans
The manual should provide for the visual inspection of drain pains for cleanliness. The standard advises an annual inspection conducted during the cooling season. This inspection includes the immediate area around the pain. HVAC testing for microbial growth is recommended as well.
3. Cooling Towers
Regular inspection and treatment of cooling towers keep the system free of contaminants such as Legionella bacteria which causes Legionnaires disease.
4. Microbial Contamination
In addition to an inspection of cooling towers, facilities managers and building engineers must inspect the entire system for microbial contamination. HVAC testing is a way to reveal the presence of microbes missed by visual inspections.
The Importance of Continued Maintenance
The ASHRAE 62 Standard also advises continued maintenance of the system. HVAC testing is an important part of this. For our part, Pure Air Control Services offers several methods to test, clean, disinfect, and restore HVAC equipment. This includes our HVAC Hygiene Assessment as well as PURE-Steam coil cleaning.
HVAC Testing and Hygiene Assessment
The HVAC Hygiene Assessment is a key part of adhering to the operations and maintenance manual. It is an accurate gauge of the system’s performance and impact on IAQ. The assessment starts with a visual inspection of the AHU including the blower, coils, drain pan, and all corresponding ductwork. Collected samples then undergo HVAC testing at our environmental lab. Afterward, a detailed report follows. The report includes the microbiological results, performance data, and photographs. We also provide our recommendations for improvements.
PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning
PURE-Steam is a method using high-temperature steam (350° F) to disinfect the coils and air handling unit. It destroys microbial growth and eliminates odors. It also removes allergens to create cleaner, healthier air for building occupants. Another benefit is the improved performance of the system itself. This means equipment lasts longer and runs more efficiently which saves money on energy costs and repair issues and lowers operating costs.
Put the Focus on HVAC Testing
Pure Air Controls helps facilities managers follow their maintenance and operation manuals with HVAC testing, inspection, and cleaning. In addition, our IAQ Guard system monitors conditions in real-time. Learn more. Call us at 1-800-422-7873 or email us here.