With the concerns about the airborne spread of coronavirus on the rise, many of our clients are asking if it is possible to eliminate it from the air inside of their homes. Considering that the virus can live inside large droplets for hours if not days, and there is a lot of uncertainty on the subject, it’s not unreasonable to take every possible precaution.
In an article that was recently published by the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration News, William Bahnfleth, founding director of the Indoor Environment Center at Pennsylvania State University, was quoted as saying that, if airborne droplets contain the virus,
“some of them will be small enough that they will stay airborne for a long time. So, it’s not impossible that infectious particles in the air could stay aloft long enough to be collected, say at the return grille of an HVAC system, go through a duct, and infect someone in a different space.”
So what can be done to protect indoor air quality? If only there was such a thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning indoor air environments. This is not the case, unfortunately; the best way to try to eliminate the coronavirus from our homes is to employ a multi-faceted approach, using a blend of the strategies and methods listed below:
- Air filters – Any filter designed to remove particulates from the air has the potential to reduce the impact of coronavirus exposure. The thing is, however, that most air filters are only able to trap particles that are around 0.3 microns and larger. Since coronavirus averages between 0.06 and 0.14 microns in size, the effectiveness of most air filters is questionable.
- UV disinfection systems – One of the most promising approaches to reducing the spread of coronavirus lies within UV disinfection. Because upper-air UV-C fixtures have been shown to destroy airborne pathogens within a matter of seconds, they could be an effective complement to other filtration systems. In testing, UV-C fixtures have achieved a kill ratio up to 99.9 percent on the first pass. Microbes and other particulates are further reduced when the indoor air recirculates.
- HVAC germicidal fixtures – These were developed to eliminate a variety of nasties, such as bacteria, viruses and mold, which can thrive on HVAC components. As a surface-cleaning UV-C system, these can kill up to 90 percent of all the microorganisms that live on air ducts and other components, depending on the length of exposure to the UV light and the wavelength intensity. A study centered on Covid-19 is yet to be completed, however these systems were effective against other forms of coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, so conventional wisdom would say that the use of them should be considered.
Of course, the problem with air filters is that they don’t clean the air when the system is off. The system fan would have to continue to run to remove air particulates; when the heat or air conditioning is not on the system does not do anything to clean the air. Thankfully, many of the newer thermostats have an air cycling option that will allow the fan to run for a pre-programmed period.
Adjusting the humidity of the indoor air is another strategy for reducing the spread of the coronavirus. This is something that most HVAC contractors can do with relative ease. Most viruses are least viable in a humidity range between 40 and 60 percent, so using a home humidifier or de-humidifier to keep the humidity level in that range could be a good option to have in the tool belt.
For a consultation about the indoor air quality in your home, please reach out to us at 910-791-0480 or email [email protected]
Chris Jones and the team at Green Dot HVAC are committed to provide their clients with a consultative, transparent approach, driven by innovative technology and a diligent work ethic. With a team of highly trained and versatile technicians, a focus on helping clients make informed decisions, and a commitment to deliver substantial value, Green Dot HVAC is a leader in the Southeast North Carolina marketplace. To arrange a free at-home consultation, a repair/installation or simply find guidance about the nuances of modern heating and air conditioning systems, call 910-791-0480.