ASHRAE has worked hard over the past year to keep up with the latest science and technology surrounding the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Their advice on HVAC preparations for reopening is important. Facilities directors who encourage their engineers to brush up on these ASHRAE recommendations face an easier time than those who don’t.
HVAC Preparation for Reopening
A plan for HVAC assessment, disinfection, and proper HEPA filters and air cleaning technologies ensures the health and safety of building occupants. Building engineers should be familiar with these key points:
Controlling Aerosol Transmission
One way the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads is through aerosol transmission. Coughing and sneezing generate thousands of tiny droplets of liquid. Viruses attach to these droplets then travel through the air where people breathe them into their lungs. They also land on hard surfaces and get transmitted when a person makes contact with them then touches their mouth or nose.
Enforcing hand washing and social distancing rules helps control spreads as does a change to traffic patterns in occupied spaces. Proper ventilation and well-maintained HVAC systems are also critical in reducing the risks.
Assessing HVAC System
ASHRAE recommends inspections as a part of HVAC preparations. In fact, these systems should be treated as if reopening day is their first day in operation. That means following ASHRAE’s advice on inspection and maintenance of HVAC systems in commercial buildings.
Overall, Pure Air Control’s HVAC Hygiene Assessment gives building managers a snapshot of potential issues. The assessment includes a visual inspection of evaporator coils, drain pan, blower, and ductwork. Our EDLab analyzes the collected samples and provides recommendations for improvements. One suggestion is to use HEPA filters with a MERV rating of 13 or above. In addition, system control sensors may require recalibration after long periods of inactivity. HVAC controls may need adjustment and repair before reopening.
Disinfecting the AHU and Ductwork
Building managers need a plan to mitigate the spread of the virus. This includes the disinfection of high-touch surfaces such as desktops, door handles, copy machines, and other shared office equipment. As the ASHRAE guidelines mention, the amount of time before the coronavirus degrades depends on the surface it lands on. For example, stainless steel may contain the virus for up to seven days. While the virus degrades significantly over this period, building managers must remain proactive in their disinfection methods.
A part of successful HVAC preparations includes PURE-Steam. This process uses high-temperature steam to disinfect evaporator coils and the air handling unit. It knocks dust and debris loose then pushes them through the coil. It kills viruses, bacteria, mold, and other allergens and improves the efficiency of HVAC units thereby lowering energy costs. PURE-Decon is another combination of services that help with HVAC preparations. It uses EPA-registered disinfectants to reach deep into the HVAC system.
Cleaning the Air
For buildings without modern centralized HVAC systems or those who cannot open windows due to cold outside temperatures,PURE-Blue HEPA is a temporary solution to clean air. These large-volume HEPA filtration machines are modular, feature HEPA-staged filtration and dual fan configuration to improve IAQ and remove pathogens from the air.
The PURE-Plasma ionization system removes pathogens from the air around the clock and helps with HVAC preparations. These ionizers release millions of charged atoms into the ductwork where they cluster around particles and destroy them. These products mount on supply air ductwork or in the air handler. They work as a retrofit or with new construction. A further safeguard against viruses is the PURE+Aeramax portable air scrubber which cleans the air in rooms up to 1,400 square feet.
Start Your HVAC Preparations Today
Of course, ASHRAE has many more guidelines and advice for preparing HVAC systems. While facilities managers should challenge their engineers to revisit these guidelines for safe re-occupancy, Pure Air Control Services is here to help as well. For more information contact Pure Air Controls today.