The quality of the air we breathe is under more scrutiny now than ever. Staying healthy in our workplaces is vital to keeping the economy moving and providing for ourselves and our families. There are many things that affect the quality of the air we breathe indoors, including radon, chemicals, humidity, temperature, ventilation, pests or infestations, and microbes. Microbes are of particular concern since they remain suspended in the air and transmit airborne diseases like Covid-19 and the Coronavirus, the flu, and the common cold. These are all risk factors that can be mitigated through the implementation of routine HVAC maintenance.
Effects of Poor Ventilation
A supply of fresh air is important for any building, so it’s odd that recent construction methods employ the use of air sealing or making sure that the building is as airtight as possible to create more energy efficiency. The opposite actually occurs. The same stagnate air is circulated through the building via the HVAC air ducts. If the air ducts aren’t properly cleaned, the HVAC system will continue to circulate viruses, bacteria, mold, and other contaminants throughout the building. The risk of having employees get sick is multiplied if substandard maintenance and clogged air vents create higher humidity levels which allow the viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory illnesses to increase and spread.
In addition to sicknesses, workers can also experience more frequent asthma attacks and allergy symptoms, headaches, and side effects from being exposed to chemicals like radon that haven’t been flushed out of the building by the correct pressure from the HVAC system. Obstructed vents cause the HVAC unit to perform insufficiently.
Ensuring regular air duct cleaning and maintenance of the HVAC system will help prevent airborne illnesses and improve the air quality.
Commercial HVAC System Maintenance
There are many components to a maintenance routine that will keep an HVAC system functioning properly and providing healthier air.
1. Replacing Air Filters
One of the most effective ways to maintain good air quality is to change the air filters regularly. The HVAC service company should be consulted first to be sure that the correct filters are used. Incorrect filters will not work properly and will compromise air quality.
2. Repairing and Cleaning Air Ducts.
Duct cleaning removes microorganisms, dust, and mold. If holes or leaks are found, they should also be repaired to decrease humidity and keep air flowing consistently.
3. Adding Air Purifying Devices
To prevent the spread of the Coronavirus and other airborne illnesses, technologies such as bi-polar ionization, oxidation, and UV light use substantially reduce the risks of spreading the viruses throughout the workplace.
4. Monitoring Humidity Levels, Air Flow, and Temperatures.
Increased humidity, higher temperatures, and decreased air flow can all be indicators that the HVAC system needs maintenance and cleaning.
5. Removing Water Found Anywhere in the System.
Standing water can encourage mold growth. It should be cleaned up and the water should be tested for mold contamination.
6. Calibrating the Controls.
Calibration ensures that the controls are working properly and not overtaxing the system.
7. Reevaluating the Effectiveness of the System.
If your building has changed, there’s a good chance the HVAC system will need to updated or modified as well. A legitimate HVAC company will be able to provide a consultant to evaluate your system.
8. Locating the System with Maintenance in Mind
Cleaning and maintenance work can be done more easily and effectively when technicians have better access to the system. It may even cost less if technicians don’t have to enter crawl spaces or other difficult areas to reach HVAC vents and ducts.
9. Maintaining a Regular Maintenance Schedule.
Cleaning technicians should evaluate belts, filters, evaporators, and condenser coils in case any parts need to be lubricated or replaced. Electrical connections should also be tested.
Pollen, dust, and airborne particles can be kept out of your building’s air supply through the implementation of thorough, regular HVAC maintenance and air duct cleaning. The air quality will be healthier and employee absentee rates due to illness will decrease.