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HVAC Updates to Make Your Business COVID Safe
Here at Shipton's Heating and Cooling in Hamilton, we have nearly a century of HVAC expertise under our belts.
That day has come!
So, here we sit under yet another stay at home order, with COVID cases skyrocketing and more questions than answers about when and how it all might end.
Waiting never feels good. That is why we advocate using this time to take action. If you own a business, this is the right time to get busy making your business COVID safe.
Making these HVAC updates now means you won't lose a single day of business when the lockdown is lifted.
HVAC Upgrades for Your Industry and Workspace
Different industries face differing levels of risk. This holds true both for workers and customers.
So remember, you know your industry and your workspace best.
Before committing to expensive HVAC upgrades, ask yourself if you might be able to achieve similar results just by staggering work shifts, limiting business hours and making full use of PPE (personal protective equipment).
We know 2020 was an unbelievably tough financial year for many local businesses.
So what our team at Shipton’s Heating and Cooling are recommending to our customers is simply this: “Do what you can with what you've got first. Then look at where you are still falling short and we can trouble-shoot from there.”
Improve Your Indoor Air Ventilation to between 3 and 6 ACH
While no one we know of was delighted to learn that COVID-19 is airborne, having the facts does make it easier to identify the right protections to put into place.
For example, now we know that having more fresh air coming into a space can dilute the quantity of potentially infectious particles we may encounter.
In the HVAC industry, adding back fresh air is called ventilation.
Many hospitals that treat COVID patients aim for a ventilation level of 6 ACH (air changes per hour), or six complete "outside air changes" every hour, in each patient room.
While no official guidance has been released for other commercial spaces, many experts are now recommending a minimum of 3 ACH, or three complete outside air changes per hour.
How do you achieve this?
If you have a central (ducted) HVAC system, the best method is to add a heat recovery ventilator, or HRV, to work with your system.
Adding a heat recovery ventilator is like giving your space a fresh set of lungs. It basically "inhales" fresh outside air and then draws it into your space. At the same time it "exhales" stale toxic air and sends it back outside.
Like your lungs, it uses two completely separate pathways for inhalation and exhalation, so the two airstreams never mix.
The HRV runs continuously whether your HVAC system is operating or not.
Making the precise calculations to adjust airflow for a 3 to 6 ACH level can get complicated. Our expert Shipton's Heating and Cooling technicians are happy to help.
Boost Your Air Filtration and Reduce Air Currents
Contrary to what you may have heard, upgrading your indoor air filtration alone is not going to be sufficient to reduce the risk of airborne COVID transmission.
Remember how a single infected diner passed COVID to nine other diners in that original restaurant in Guangzhou, China? Later, researchers went back to learn why only nine of the other 73 diners who were in the restaurant that night got sick.
The researchers learned that a nearby air conditioning unit literally blew the infectious particles towards the nine other diners who later came down with COVID-19.
We bring this up to say it is not enough to simply upgrade your indoor air filtration. You must also manage indoor air currents so if infectious airborne particles are present, they will not be concentrated by directed airflow.
This can get complicated depending on the type of air cleaner or air filter unit you install. Some such units will produce a strong directional air current, especially those designed for use in non-ducted spaces.
It can take careful management to add an air filter to MERV 13 or higher without introducing potentially harmful strong direction air currents into your space.
Wherever possible, Shipton’s experts recommend adding a HEPA air filtration system to your existing central (ducted) HVAC system.
HEPA, or high efficiency particulate air, filtration technology was developed during World War II. The goal was to protect researchers developing the atomic bomb from exposure to radioactive micro-particulates.
Today, the same technology is used for the same basic purposes in hospitals and laboratories around the world.
What many business owners do not realize is that you cannot simply switch out your existing HVAC filter for a HEPA filter. HEPA filters are so dense (airflow restricting) that they will only work with a HEPA-specific (MERV 17-20) HVAC system.
Add Air Purification
The addition of ultraviolet air purification should now be standard issue for all commercial spaces.
For most business owners, this isn't necessarily intuitive. After all, we've spent the balance of our lives to date covering up and slathering on sunscreen to protect ourselves from ultraviolet light!
But in a situation where extra disinfecting power is called for, our own sun is still the best purification agent on the planet.
Indoor UV air purifiers use a synthetic version of the sun's most powerful ultraviolet light band, UV-C, to quickly and efficiently purify the air of harmful toxins, including airborne liquid and gaseous viral particulates.
Both central (ducted) UV purifiers and standalone units for non-ducted workspaces are available.
Contact Shipton's in Hamilton, Ontario for Expert HVAC Service
Our friendly, experienced service technicians at Shipton’s Heating and Cooling can assess your workspace and recommend upgrades to create a safer, healthier environment for your workers and customers.
We now offer contactless estimates, service calls, invoicing and payment options for your convenience.
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