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Can HVAC Systems Spread COVID-19?

As we continue to learn about the COVID-19 virus, there have been many questions as to how it spreads and if HVAC systems are a risk factor, especially as we head into summer when air conditioning can be a necessity. While there are no definitive answers yet, there is a risk of spreading the virus through HVAC systems, and there are steps you can take to reduce this risk for yourself and customers.

Spreading COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believe that COVID-19 is spread primarily through respiratory droplets- these are produced when an infected individual talks, sneezes, coughs, sings, or any similar actions. When dispersed, the droplets can land in the mouth and nose of a nearby individual, or even be inhaled, introducing the virus to their body. The greatest risk of this occurs when the two individuals are within six feet of each other.

Technically, these droplets can be spread through an HVAC system, though this does not appear to be common or likely. HVAC systems move the same air throughout a space multiple times, which means that the presence of droplets can reach multiple people. However, proper ventilation and filtration systems are meant to reduce risks just like this one.

In a widely reported case, a restaurant in Guangzhou, China appeared to cause multiple infections despite proper social distancing. Further research indicated this likely happened through the HVAC system, however that system was recycling air without the proper ventilation protocol, concentrating the infected air. Even so, not everyone in the restaurant was infected, including the waitstaff who saw the original patient.

Making HVAC Safer
The Guangzhou case illustrates that an important factor to consider is the efficiency of your HVAC system when determining safe levels of exposure. Proper design and installation of an HVAC system will be crucial to a building’s safety, and maintenance will become even more important than usual. Before opening a business, it would be wise to reach out to your HVAC servicer for an assessment of readiness.

Your HVAC servicer may suggest a number of changes to improve the safety in this scenario. They may suggest changing to better filtration media, retrofitting equipment for larger ventilation loads, revising control sequences, or other changes based on your equipment. Advanced filters like the iWave and Reme Halo, or even the use of UV lights, may be worthy investments to keep viruses at bay.
The general principle will be to increase ventilation as much as reasonably possible and improve filtration without straining your energy resources. Residential homeowners will also want to have their ducts cleaned and units checked to ensure they are on this path as well.

Taking Action
Because these services are critical to safety going forward, it’s important to make sure they are done properly and professionally. At E. Dennis, our experts will assess your HVAC system and help you make the right modifications to keep yourself and customers safe. Call E Dennis in Dallas, GA at (404)400-HVAC today.

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