Does UV technology kill the COVID-19 virus?
UV systems use ultraviolet (UV-C) light to kill and deactivate microbes, including viruses, that may penetrate filters and get into HVAC systems. There are different types, including upper air and surface-cleaning UV disinfection systems.
According to ASHRAE “the germicidal wavelength can kill 90 percent of all microorganisms living on HVAC air ducts and evaporator coils, depending on wavelength intensity and length of exposure.”
However, it’s important to know that although this technology has been shown to be effective in killing other types of coronaviruses, it has not yet been proven to be effective on COVID-19.
Bottom line: You’ll need to weigh the cost of installing HVAC UV products versus the possible benefit, which is not guaranteed.
Should we consider other indoor air cleaning technologies, such as ionizers?
We have had customers ask about installing air cleaning products that use ionized hydrogen peroxide to destroy microbes in the air that passes through a ducted HVAC system. These small units can be placed within your air distribution system just past the filters, to destroy any particles that manage to penetrate your filters.
There is some evidence that ionizers can destroy coronavirus particles, so it may be an option worth considering if your system can accommodate the equipment.
Bottom line: If you’re interested in ionization technology, give us a call to find out if it may offer some benefit for your system.
How do humidity and ventilation affect COVID-19?
Recent research has shown that increasing indoor humidity levels can help to deactivate the virus.
During the winter months when our spaces are closed up and heated, humidity levels tend to drop to extremely low levels (between 20 and 40 percent). Unfortunately, those are the ideal conditions for the COVID-19 virus to thrive and remain viable for longer periods.
According to the research, adding moisture to the air may damage the outer membrane of the virus, and also make “droplets” less likely to linger in the air. Increased humidity has the added benefit of moisturizing our mucous membranes, which increases your body’s ability to fight the virus.
That said, it’s important to avoid adding too much humidity to a space, because that can cause damage to furnishings and finishes (especially woodwork and fine art).
Humidification technology can boost humidity in your space to optimum levels. Be sure to consult with an HVAC expert to determine the optimum level for your space.
ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) also recommends increasing ventilation (adding more outside air) to dilute any particles that may be present. Here in New York City, that’s not always easily done if you can’t just open a window. However, there are HVAC solutions that can add more outside air to your space.
Bottom line: It’s smart to have your indoor air quality evaluated and consider humidification and added ventilation. Arista can help with that.
Should my HVAC equipment be cleaned and sanitized?
Some of our customers are asking us to clean and sanitize system components prior to starting up their air conditioning systems.
We can’t be sure if any COVID-19 particles have remained viable in your system during the lockdown. Yet even beyond eliminating virus particles, there is certainly a benefit to cleaning condenser coils (which is normally done during a PM visit) and possibly your ductwork and other system components. Cleaning your system makes it operate more efficiently, consume less power, and keeps parts in good condition.
If you want additional peace of mind (especially if there have been confirmed cases of the virus in your space), Arista will be offering an HVAC deep clean and sanitization of evaporator coils, ductwork, and other system components where virus particles might be present.
For commercial systems, the ideal time to do this work is BEFORE you bring your employees back to work in your place of business and turn on the air conditioning system. However, you’ll need to make sure access to your space and equipment is available.
Keep in mind that sanitization of system components is a one-time cleaning, and does not provide any long term protection against future exposure to the virus.
Sanitizing your equipment and air distribution system offers reliable benefits. If you’re interested in deep clean and sanitization of evaporator coils and ductwork, ask about that when you request your AC preventative maintenance appointment.