COVID-19 & Your HVAC System: Your Questions Answered

May 28, 2020

CJ here! I hope you are all staying safe and healthy! I know the last few months have truly been unprecedented and challenging—these words aren’t used as this pandemic’s catchphrase without reason. Shelter-in-place orders instigated a worldwide frenzy. One could compare the bare shelves in supermarkets, toiler paper hoarding tendencies, and mass panic as apocalyptic.

From stock-piling canned goods to purchasing as many toilet paper alternatives as they could get their hands on, people prepared for a new life indoors, with minimal travel, to keep exposure to the virus low.

However, as shelter-in-place sanctions extended once, and then twice, and now for the third time—more information regarding the virus, the way it spreads, and its effects were in high demand. And, the need to know more about the coronavirus instigated a series of ill-informed news cycles.

Communities became hubs for widespread misinformation as research uncovered that the COVID-19 virus could be spread without human-to-human contact. As news broke that the virus could remain viable in the air for up to three hours, a flood of questions regarding forced air systems arose. They all shared the same concern: Can using your heating or air conditioning systems increase the likelihood of virus spread? The answer is multifaceted.

What We Know About Coronavirus

The Coronavirus can not only be transmitted through person-to-person contact, but also through airborne infectious viral particles, making it increasingly difficult to reduce spread. That is why social distancing and staying at home is paramount in resolving the current pandemic.

The notion that someone infected with COVID-19 could affect an entire room of people just by breathing became a frightful one. Even more so, for those that live in townhomes, apartment complexes, or condominiums, as these HVAC networks are shared.

Residential living becomes threatened, as forced air systems in such properties are connected from occupant to occupant. And, as this virus has unique capabilities to move at exponential rates, in combination with its lengthy airborne viability, it becomes a valid concern. Yet, there are ways in which to successfully, nearly eliminate any cause for concern.

HVAC Maintenance Is Paramount

As you know from my previous blogs, poorly maintained HVAC systems result in compromised indoor air quality. Failure to uphold indoor air quality in your home can lead to health implications such as respiratory distress, increased allergy symptoms, exacerbated asthma, and other upper-respiratory illnesses.

This would prove increasingly dangerous in the current climate, as those with pre-existing respiratory ailments have, on average, a higher risk for contracting the virus and increased chances of a severe reaction to the coronavirus infection. Decrease this susceptibility by scheduling professional HVAC system maintenance biannually.

Regular maintenance prevents bacteria, dust, germs, and other airborne contaminants from accumulating within your HVAC’s delivery system. When this does occur, your indoor air quality becomes jeopardized as these particles enter your home. A dirty filter or clogged duct can be the source of your poor indoor air quality. It is imperative that you rid your system of contaminant build-up to keep your home’s health intact.

Change Your Air Filters Religiously

Once air filters within your HVAC system become packed with dust, dirt, and debris, they can no longer function as intended. Your airflow will become weak and saturated with contaminants. With each pump of cooled air this summer, your ventilation system will deliver compromised air.

Make sure you are changing your air filters monthly to maintain your indoor air quality. This will ensure your system is running efficiently and effectively. Additionally, the host of health problems that accompany poor indoor air quality will be significantly reduced, if not eliminated.

If you have any inkling that your indoor air quality is not up to par, do not run your HVAC system until you have it professionally maintained.

Install An Air Purification System

To install an air purification system or to not, that is the question. However, there really is no question about it. There are no disadvantages to adding an air purifying system in your home, only benefits. Whether you have old ductwork or your home is new, whether you have three dogs or one cat, installing an air purification system comes highly recommended. 

There are numerous benefits to upgrading your indoor air quality with an air purification system installation. First, any pre-existing allergy symptoms will be greatly reduced, as pollen and other airborne allergens will be caught before distribution. These pollutants won’t be able to settle in your home, providing symptomatic relief.

Second, your risk for respiratory illness will decrease, improving you and your family’s health and wellbeing. Thirdly, harmful bacteria and other detrimental contaminants will be eliminated from your air supply, as air purification technology proactively targets bacterial and viral particles.

Lastly, these systems will diminish any unsavory lingering odors. Whether your bathroom emits a foul stench or your garbage disposal is producing unwanted odors, air purifiers will help eliminate these putrid smells.

When it comes to deciding which air purification system is right for your home, three things must be taken into account:

  1. The Square-Footage Of Your Property

  2. The Current State Of Your Indoor Air Quality

  3. The Type Of HVAC System Your Have Installed

Here are all of the relevant air purification systems on the market today:

  • Ultraviolet Air Purifiers

    • For protecting your residence against COVID-19, UV air purification systems are your best choice. UV technology not only catches bacteria and viruses, it stops them from reproducing. Ultraviolet light damages these microorganisms beyond viability, making it impossible for these particles to infect your home. These systems require replacement yearly.

  • HEPA Technology Systems

    • HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air, and are the industry standard for removing ultra-fine airborne particles. These systems are used in medical cleanrooms, remove up to 99.97% of airborne pollutants passing through, and are extremely useful in alleviating severe asthma and allergy symptoms. These require frequent replacement.

  • Negative Ion Purifiers

    • Rather than relying on fans to move air through this air purifier, negative ion purifiers releases negatively charged ions into your home, that attach themselves onto dust, dander, and other particles, to attract them back to the positively charged plate inside the purifier. This system will help relieve environmental allergens and increase resistance to infection.

If you are thinking about adding one of the above filters to your home, I recommend hiring a professional HVAC technician for installation to ensure your cooling and heating are not interrupted or impeded.

When it comes down to deciding whether purchasing an air filtration system is worth your while, the answer is simple: yes. When it comes down to it, it will only help reduce virus spread and contamination, as all of the above systems are manufactured to eliminate the smallest of organisms. Viruses and bacteria will be caught before distribution, improving your indoor air quality significantly.

Remember that even with air filtration, you must regularly have your HVAC system maintained by a professional, habitually replace your air filters, and continue to wash your hands, wear masks, and practice social distancing.

For HVAC service, maintenance, indoor air quality repairs, and air filtration system installations, contact Winters Home Services at 617-221-5899. We are here to help you protect your home from airborne contaminants, virus spread, and bacteria. With the CDC’s recommended protocols in place, we are able to serve our community while keeping both our technicians and customers safe and healthy.