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A team of researchers from Alberta say it is highly likely that HVAC ductwork can help coronavirus particles spread.
This is scary news, indeed.
While the Canadian researchers do have some heavyweight detractors, they also have the support of fellow researchers in China and Australia as well as researchers from the United States.
The truth is, air ducts are pretty great at transporting lots of other things besides just air.
What does this mean for your safety and the safety of your loved ones? It means you may not want to wait to take extra precautions to protect your family. We will give you our best precautionary tips in this post.
Learn What the Research Says About HVAC and COVID-19
Earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control's Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases published a shocking research letter entitled, “COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with Air Conditioning in Restaurant, Guangzhou, China.”
The night the pandemic began, a single asymptomatic diner who had travelled to Guangzhou from Wuhan ate at a local restaurant with family members. Two other families were dining nearby - but none were within the required one metre of the asymptomatic diner.
Not very long after, nine other people (plus the original diner) were diagnosed with COVID-19.
So how did those nine other diners get infected with coronavirus?
After thoroughly studying the data, the researchers concluded that the most likely culprit was the restaurant's forced-air HVAC and ventilation system.
The early publication of a similar research report in the journal Environmental International supports the Chinese researchers’ findings that, yes, this new novel coronavirus, CoV-SARS-2, can spread through the air.
Now what? What should you do with this information?
4 Tips to Virus-Proof Your HVAC and Ventilation System
We understand these new research findings may be worrisome. But the truth is, what we do know about COVID-19 is a drop in the bucket compared with what we don't know about it.
So each new tidbit of data offers us the chance to take additional measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
For example, once we have enough evidence to suggest that HVAC systems, ventilation, and ductwork may help spread coronavirus germs, we can then use everything we know about these systems to fight back.
These four tips will help you do just that - proactively fight back.
1. Clean out your air ducts
There are lots of good reasons to give your air ducts a professional cleaning and sanitizing treatment. But there is no better reason we have found than COVID-19.
The researchers in China and Australia discovered that as the initially heavy droplets that contain coronavirus germs evaporate, they grow lighter and become airborne. This is when they can get sucked into the HVAC ventilation system and travel longer distances to infect others.
Cleaning and sanitizing your air ducts not only gets rid of mould, mildew, dust mites, pet dander, pollen, bacteria, volatile organic compounds, and PM2.5 (very tiny) particulates, but the sanitizing service may also protect against airborne virus transmission.
2. Install a heat recovery ventilator
Ventilation is a key component of fighting back against COVID-19. The longer stale air is allowed to linger inside a space, the greater your chance of coming into contact with it.
One of the reasons the new coronavirus is called “novel” is that it can be spread by people who are completely asymptomatic - in other words, by people who look and feel healthy and have no idea they have COVID-19!
One of the best protective measures you can take is to make sure stale air is exhausted outside as quickly as possible.
A heat recovery ventilator system creates two separate airstreams - fresh incoming air and stale outgoing air. In this way, the HRV acts as an extra set of lungs for your space, continually inhaling fresh clean air and exhaling stale, polluted air.
As a side perk, HRVs also help lower your energy costs by recycling energy.
3. Run your air through a HEPA filter
Before you run out to exchange your regular furnace filter for a HEPA filter, it is important to know that these high-density filters don't work well with most residential HVAC units.
The force it takes to blow air through a HEPA filter can cause blower motor burnout in short order.
But there is a way to add HEPA filtration to your home, and that is by using an add-on HEPA filtration system. These systems won't tax your blower but will filter out tiny toxic particles from your indoor air.
If you don't have a central (ducted) HVAC system, you can also get a portable HEPA filtration unit to use in your space.
4. Irradiate your indoor air with UV light
Along with HEPA filtration, ultraviolet light has become the gold standard for all health care facilities worldwide.
UV-C light is the most powerful band of ultraviolet light. In its shortwave form, UV-C can neutralize tiny gaseous and liquid microparticles, including those that transmit COVID-19.
If you don't have a central (ducted) HVAC system, you can get a portable ultraviolet purification unit to use in your space.
Meet Our Sister Company, Clean Air Solutions Hamilton
We are working closely with our sister company, Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, to serve all of your HVAC maintenance and indoor air quality needs.
Together, we can provide you with comprehensive home and workplace upgrades to protect your family, lower your energy bills, and keep your indoor air clean and pure.
Get in Touch
HVAC, electrical, and plumbing have all been deemed essential services during the stay-at-home order in Ontario. Watch this short video by owner Scott Shipton that explains how we are continuing to serve you while limiting risks for all concerned.
Give us a call at 905-549-4616 or visit us online if we can be of service during this difficult time.