Improving indoor air quality is crucial to reducing the spread of COVID. To help business owners and operators of public buildings where people congregate, Seattle & King County created a guide for IAQ improvements.
K & D Mechanical, Inc. has made it part of our standard protocol to follow all COVID guidelines as set forth by state and local officials. This is a priority as we want to be able to safely install, service and maintain our customers’ HVAC equipment so they can continue to operate.
Many of them are worried about outbreaks and we’ve been doing all that we can to improve their air quality, so their employees feel safe at work and customers feel comfortable patronizing their business.
3 ways to reduce spread
We know COVID is spread through the air so the key to stopping transmission is cleaning the viral particles out of the air. Depending on your business and the type of building, one of these 3 or a combination of them will improve your air quality.
- Better HVAC units
- Portable HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) air cleaners
- Upper room UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) disinfection
We’d like to note that these solutions should be used with the common-sense strategies we’ve been doing such as wearing masks, physically distancing and regular cleaning.
Increasing air flow is key
HVAC systems work by bringing in outdoor air to mix with recirculated indoor air. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, your system’s setting should be adjusted to take in the maximum amount of outdoor air (100% is optimal).
This allows for the fastest replacement of inside air with clean outdoor air. Depending on the weather, windows can be opened to increase the flow of outside air.
Upgrading air filters
Air filters are another area that can make a significant difference. MERV 8 filters are standard, but they are not as effective at removing COVID-19 and other infectious particles. MERV 13 (or higher) filters are being recommended for all businesses if your HVAC system can handle them.
Note: There are other brands of filters that are the equivalent of MERV 13, such as the ISO (3M brand) or FPR (Home Depot brand). These are equally good and just as effective. If your HVAC system can’t handle MERV 13 filters, you may want to think about upgrading.
Maintenance is key
Air filters need to be changed on a regular basis and that’s especially important as clogged filters are not as effective at keeping out harmful particles. Filters should be looked at monthly and be replaced before they are thickly coated with dust.
Keep in mind that you may be replacing them a little more frequently and not necessarily at the same intervals. For example, smoke from wildfires can quickly clog your filters and cause you to replace them more often.
HEPA air cleaners
COVID is spread through the air and when people are talking or moving around, they expel more respiratory droplets. These droplets circulate through the air, but HEPA air cleaners are designed to trap up to 99.97% of these particles down to 0.3 microns in size.
These air cleaners can be used alone or as a supplement to your main HVAC system. Depending on the size of your facility, you may need more than one.
How many air cleaners do you need?
You need to have a CADR (clean air delivery rate) adequate for the size of the space. The EPA recommends a minimum CADR of 65 for an area of 100 square ft.
For example, a 500 square foot room could have 1 HEPA cleaner with a CADR of 325 (or higher) or two cleaners that have a CADR of 175 each.
It’s recommended to get a unit that has a higher CADR that needed so that you can put it on a lower, quieter setting rather than having it on full blast.
UVGI best for specific facilities
UVGI systems are used to kill viruses and other microbes in indoor air using low-wavelength ultraviolet light. Note that the particles are not removed from the air. In comparison, HEPA air cleaners captures the harmful particles.
Not right for all area, UV light fixtures kill or inactivate germs in the air in the upper part of the room. Ceiling heights must be at least 7 to 10 feet and are best used where there is no ventilation and air filtration or where it’s minimal.
As you can see, there’s many options for improving indoor air quality in the age of COVID to make employees and customers feel safer. Contact K & D Mechanical to learn which option is best for your Seattle or Tacoma area facility.