Sign Up for Shipton's Weekly Blog Today!
Click here to sign up for our monthly blog and learn how to improve your home comfort!
Can My HVAC System Spread or Stop The Risk of COVID-19?
Just in case you are not completely tired of hearing about COVID-19 by now, we have some updates to share with you.
Recently, The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE, released their official position statement regarding likely transmission methods for the new novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
ASHRAE's statement alerted all of North America, and the 132 countries in which the organization has members, that airborne transmission over farther distances is a viable means for COVID-19 to spread.
If this news sounds scary to you, you are not alone!
While previously it was thought - assumed, even - that the coronavirus could only be spread by close physical or airborne contact, we now know differently. Even at the original Chinese restaurant where the COVID-19 outbreak is thought to have started, people were infected over longer distances not covered by social distancing guidelines.
The infectious droplets had some help from the five-story restaurant's ventilation and HVAC system.
Thanks in large part to a number of breaking research studies (which we blogged about previously here), ASHRAE has been able to let the world know that the risk is wider and greater than we previously imagined. The organization has also been able to give us a heads-up on we can reduce the spread of COVID-19.
How COVID-19 Can Spread
Coronavirus can spread in two key ways:
1. By close physical proximity, whether by touch or by close-quarters airborne transmission (within six feet or two meters).
2. By airborne transmission as lighter-weight infectious droplets travel through ventilation systems over longer distances.
So now that we know this information, what can we do about it?
Limiting COVID-19 Risk: Air Ventilation, Filtration and Purification
ASHRAE's position statement highlights three keys to either increasing or decreasing the risk of exposure to infectious droplets: HVAC ventilation, indoor air filtration and ultraviolet light purification.
Let's take a closer look at what each of these protective systems can do to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 either at home or at work.
The Connection Between Air Ventilation, Filtration, Purification and COVID-19
The original restaurant where the COVID-19 outbreak is now thought to have started has five stories.
The original first patient, or "index patient," was sitting too far away from several of the other eight infected patients to have attributed their cases to close proximity.
This is how researchers concluded that the only viable transmission method must have come from lighter weight airborne particulates traveling through the restaurant's ventilation system to reach individuals dining at farther distances throughout the restaurant.
As the infected person coughed or sneezed, the initial droplets were heavy, which is where social distancing first came into play, but then evaporation made the liquid droplets lighter.
The lighter the droplets became, the more easily they could rise. In some cases, the droplets could hitch a ride on tiny micro-particles and travel into the air ducts and throughout the building.
If particles and their infectious passengers did not encounter any barriers along their route, they could eventually emerge into other rooms and then infect new people in this way
Now that we understand how the original COVID-19 patients were infected, what precautions can we take with our own HVAC systems.
Thankfully, modern HVAC and air quality technology have several high quality tools to offer us in the fight against COVID-19. Keep reading to learn more about how your air conditioning system can stop the spread of COVID-19.
Stop The Spread Of COVID-19 With Air Filtration, Ventilation, Purification
The first, and one of the most effective, barriers against COVID-19 is air filtration.
Your HVAC air filter is likely not dense enough to stop the micro-particles that are carrying infectious particles to other rooms of your house. It is still vital, however, to keep that air filter clean so that your HVAC system can work at peak efficiency.
From here, there are three aids you can put into place to block SARS-CoV-2 particles from reaching you. Our team at Shipton’s Heating and Cooling LTD can help you ensure that these three key factors are taken care of in your home’s heating and cooling systems.
Three HVAC Add-Ons To protect you from COVID-19:
1. HEPA air filtration
HEPA is a term that refers to "High Efficiency Particulate Air." In short, this incredibly dense type of filter is specifically designed to stop tiny micro-particulate solids that could help coronavirus droplets reach you.
HEPA filters don't work directly with your HVAC units. Instead, they work directly with your air ducts. There are also portable HEPA filtration units that can be used to effectively filter the air in non-ducted spaces.
2. Heat recovery ventilator
The heat recovery ventilator, or HRV, is specifically designed to combat the stale air syndrome created by new eco-friendly airtight building standards. HRVs are now required for any new construction in Toronto for exactly this reason.
HRVs do a great job sending stale and potentially infectious air back outside while bringing in a steady supply of fresh oxygenated air. These units work best with central (ducted) HVAC systems.
3. Ultraviolet air purifier.
You have probably heard by now about the impact ultraviolet light has on coronavirus droplets. UV-C is a light band that can destroy the outer cellular membrane that protects the infectious RNA within each droplet.
When this outer membrane is destroyed, the RNA is damaged and cannot infect you.
Luckily, ultraviolet light purifiers are available both for use with central (ducted) HVAC systems and for non-ducted spaces.
If you or someone in your family is in a high-risk category for the new novel coronavirus, these are definitely the HVAC additions you will want to consider installing. Do you need your HVAC installed, repaired or updated? Shipton’s services Hamilton region and the surrounding areas and are ready to service and optimize your HVAC system.
Contact Shipton's Hamilton
HVAC, electrical and plumbing have all been deemed essential services during the stay at home order here in Ontario.
As a further support to our valued customers, right now and through June 30, 2020, we are also giving away a FREE air conditioner!