There are some fresh HVAC recommendations to deal with airborne COVID-19 and the climate catastrophe. However, since so much is beyond our control, keeping up with regular HVAC maintenance is our greatest opportunity to be ready.
Over the past two years, we have received inquiries from a number of clients and business stakeholders seeking direction and assistance on reducing COVID-19 airborne spread. Even if things are changing and there are new opportunities and challenges, our advice to maintain your maintenance is mostly unchanged.
Earlier in the pandemic, we investigated COVID-19 and healthy air with many people, businesses, engineers, NSW Health Infection Control, and air quality companies over the course of a week. And we discovered that your best defense was to keep things well-maintained, to follow appropriate procedures, and to make sure they are operating as intended. This will lessen the spread along with sanitising, keeping a distance, and wearing masks in places where keeping a distance is challenging. It should be encouraged for residents to use masks while they are in dangerous regions, restricted spaces, building entrances and exits, restrooms, and lunchrooms. Although people also have some power over what they do to protect themselves and improve the situation, building managers and maintenance personnel can contribute by using proper maintenance techniques.
Increased outside air intake has been discussed extensively in the media as a way to improve indoor natural ventilation. But based on the square footage and the number of occupants in the building, HVAC systems have been expertly built to manage a specific level of air changes every hour. Therefore, it won’t be as easy as just adding extra outside air. Actually, it can indicate that your HVAC system won’t function effectively and won’t be able to keep a comfortable temperature range. Alternately, the air conditioner will need to work harder and consume more energy, which will increase your operating costs and have an impact on things like NABERS ratings. Many people overlook these ripple effects.
So, go back to making sure the system functions as it was intended to. Check the operation of the outside air vents, the flow rates, the cleanliness of the coils and fans, and the regular replacement of the filters. Regular maintenance and housekeeping tasks can aid in lowering the risk of transmission.
Plant activities can be managed using a suitable building management system (BMS). It will monitor the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels within a building and let you know if they are too high. It will also help you manage and regulate the amount of outside air. You can use sensors to check the air quality and monitor temperature.
Buildings with good BMS upkeep are much more productive. With options like night purges, for example, your BMS should assist you in putting methods in place to select the best times to flush air from the building without affecting energy usage. Technology and improvements can assist you fine-tune HVAC maintenance operations for your building regardless of the HVAC management method you select.
If the fan is capable of handling the increased pressure drop through the filter, there are additional actions that can be done, such as updating your filter to a higher-grade filter. These increase particle filtration and improve air quality. If the fan has adequate power to handle the updated filter, we advise our clients to upgrade their filters to a higher quality. If you decide to continue with what you already have, make sure to change them when necessary and to maintain regular cleaning and upkeep.
The future holds dangers to clean air like pollution and wildfire smoke, more viruses, and harsher climates. Although you have no power over the outside world, you do have control over your immediate surroundings. Make sure you’re taking the proper steps to achieve this. Good and proactive maintenance practices will aid in both helping you manage the circumstance you’re in now and preparing you for the future.