Understanding how humidity and temperature impact air quality in operating rooms, intensive care units, and throughout healthcare facilities is important to maintaining good healthcare IAQ. Controlling these levels is a concern for building engineers and facilities managers and they need to communicate this to clinical staff to prevent the spread of infections.
What is Psychrometrics?
The thermodynamic properties of air moisture, or psychrometry, helps building engineers regulate indoor air quality. The quality of IAQ is affected by a combination of water vapor and temperature as it relates to heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. Healthcare facilities need to maintain the lowest temperature possible while keeping the relative humidity under 60 percent. Controlling the humidity and temperatures produced by air handlers is key to maintaining safe levels. This is made easier with tools like the ASHRAE Psychrometric Chart app for mobile devices. The app makes it possible to plot HVAC processes and share them with staff.
Cost-Effective Control Measures
Managing healthcare IAQ is important but it does not have to be costly. The following steps are cost-effective ways to control humidity levels in HVAC systems.
Scheduling regular inspections of air handling units is an important preventative step for good healthcare IAQ. An HVAC hygiene assessment is a good gauge of the impact an HVAC system has on IAQ. Air handling units and corresponding ductwork, blower, and drain pipe should get inspected for cleanliness to make sure the system operates at peak performance. Pay special attention to VAV terminals, especially those with re-heat coils as they can restrict airflow when dirty.
Keep Coils Clean
If the HVAC hygiene assessment determines that evaporator coils are dirty then cleaning is necessary. Employing a method such as PURE-Steam HVAC coil cleaning improves healthcare IAQ and ensures energy efficiency as well.
Monitor IAQ Conditions
Healthcare IAQ in operating rooms and intensive care units is an ongoing concern. A system like Pure Control’s IAQ Guard monitors all environmental conditions from a single outlet-powered module. Temperature and humidity levels get collected and the resulting real-time data ensures compliance and that issues get addressed quickly before they turn into expensive repairs.
Retrofit Old Blowers & Motors
Outdated equipment hinders the performance of HVAC systems so older blowers and motors should be retrofitted with a Q-PAC™ Fan Array. This improves operation, extends the life of the system, and cuts down on maintenance calls. Money is saved when systems run at optimal levels.
Other Mechanical Considerations
There are other measures building engineers can take to monitor and regulate humidity levels, control infection, and improve IAQ in operating rooms and intensive care units.
Calibrate Air-flow Sensors
It’s important to keep air-flow sensors properly calibrated. Doing so helps to limit moisture levels in air handling units.
Maintain Water Temperature
Maintaining consistent water temperatures is critical in operating rooms so real-time monitoring is important. When on and off chillers cause temperatures to spike facilities managers can respond quickly.
Add a Desiccant System
Space considerations can make it difficult for some facilities to do this, but adding a desiccant system is an effective way to reduce moisture in the air brought in from outside before it enters the air handling unit.
Blueprint for Infection-Prevention
Just as facilities managers keep fire-safety drawings on hand in the event of emergencies, an infection-prevention chart is beneficial in keeping hospitals safe. These drawings can be used to pinpoint critical pressure relationships within the facility as well as keep Healthcare IAQ top of mind.
We Can Help with Your Healthcare IAQ
Healthcare IAQ is too important not to address. Prevent and control the spread of infections by optimizing the performance of your HVAC systems. Pure Air Control Services has the experience and expertise to do this. We are an IAQ and HVAC system-focused company in operation since 1984. Call 1-800-422-7873 or email us here
Coronavirus/COVID-19 Solutions and Resources
We have made a special page outlining our solutions and resources for the emerging threat of COVID-19, particularly for building decontamination. Click HERE to view the page.