After many decades of being an industry niche topic, air filtration has suddenly become headline news, and we know exactly what we have to thank for this dramatic spike in interest.
Even while some areas within Canada are seeing a reduced incidence of new COVID-19 cases, other areas are still struggling to get to this game-changing point.
On a bigger-picture level, predictions indicate the coronavirus could come back around again as the cool season returns and cold and flu season along with it.
On the subject of cold and flu season, there is also breaking news of a new prospective threat coming out of China – a new novel flu strain for which no vaccine currently exists.
With concerns about indoor air quality and exposure risk at an all time high, it can seem like we have a lot more questions than answers on the topic of indoor air quality and air filtration.
Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, you have been calling to ask how to safely change a dirty air filter. This is a great question – read on to learn what to do!
What Toronto Engineers Say About Air Filter Risks
Right here in Toronto, a team of world-class engineers has received nearly half a million dollars to study the problem of airborne SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
You may recall that as recently as a few weeks ago, leading health organizations were emphatic that the new novel coronavirus could not be transmitted via lightweight airborne droplets.
Our own engineers have since turned that theory upside down.
While lead engineer Dr. Jeffrey Siegel states that airborne transmission still is not considered the new novel coronavirus’s primary mode of transmission, it is definitely a risk factor.
This places a priority on learning how to safely handle HVAC system maintenance and repair needs, including the need for routine air filter changes.
Dr. Siegel emphasizes that air filters are possible transmission points. For this reason, always assume that any air filter has the capacity to transfer active micro-biological contaminants to humans.
Because COVID-19 can be transferred from an asymptomatic (seemingly healthy) person to other people, it is currently not possible to assume no one in your home or workplace has been exposed.
Instead, you should simply take all of the following precautions when handling air filter changes for any HVAC system or air filtration unit inside your space.
Why Are Regular Air Filter Changes Important During COVID-19?
As we mentioned in the introduction here earlier, we have begun to receive a number of calls from concerned customers who wonder if it is safer to just leave their air filter alone for now.
We do not recommend this for a number of reasons, chief among which is that the dirtier your air filter gets, the more likely it is to become a fire risk.
A dirty air filter that is left in place will also begin discharging small amounts of clogged particulates back into your indoor air, with the effect of reducing indoor air quality and exposing you to other potential pathogens, including mildew, pollen, mould, bacteria and viruses.
This is the last thing your immune system needs right now!
How to Safely Handle and Change Your Air Filter
Dr. Siegel and the University of Toronto team have released official guidance regarding the safest way to handle and change your air filter.
This guidance applies equally to your central or portable/ductless HVAC units and to any standalone air filtration device you may be using, including HEPA air filtration systems. It also applies to cabin air filters for vehicles and RVs!
As with any system, be sure to consult your manufacturer’s manual for further instructions on air filter changes to make sure you don’t accidentally void your warranty.
Steps To Safely Change Any Air Filter In Your Space
1. Move any immune-compromised individuals to an isolating space.
You want to do this first, since it is impossible to completely avoid dislodging trapped particles during an air filter change.
2. Power off your HVAC system and any fans or other filtration devices as applicable.
You want to make sure there is minimal air circulation during the filter change.
3. Open windows where applicable.
If there are windows in the area where the air filter change is to take place, open them. This will allow for faster release and diffusion of any harmful airborne particles.
4. Place a mask and gloves on and wear any additional PPE you have available.
Personal protective equipment such as safety goggles or glasses (even swim goggles will do in a pinch), facial screen, mask, gloves and non-permeable clothing are all assets when handling any potentially hazardous bio-material.
5. Remove the air filter and place it in a sealable non-permeable bag.
You want to be sure to immediately place the dirty air filter into a bag that can be sealed up right away for safe disposal.
6. Install the new clean air filter and close up the unit.
Once you have removed and bagged up the dirty air filter, quickly move on to install a new clean air filter in its place.
7. Dispose of the sealed bag with the dirty air filter safely outside.
Finally, it is time to head outside and safely dispose of the sealed bag with the dirty air filter.
8. Remove and dispose of single-use PPE and take a shower.
Safely dispose of any single-use PPE and take a warm water shower if you can.
Contact Clean Air Solutions
We are open to serve you safely with contact-less options during this difficult time.
If you do not feel comfortable handling these routine air filter changes on your own, our highly trained service technicians have all the necessary safety equipment and PPE to safely change your air filters.
Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online.