The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted a lot of things. Businesses, social events, and travel plans all hit a bump in the road amid the uncertainty. As it turns out, nearly every industry has struggled throughout 2020, including the heating and cooling industry. Yet, the problems related to HVAC were much different than other businesses.
COVID-19 impacted HVAC greatly when the pandemic first broke out. It was quickly revealed that HVAC systems could be leading to the spread of the virus. But how is that possible? And is the problem under control now? Let’s take a look!
How Has COVID-19 Impacted HVAC?
In March 2020, concerns were raised when COVID-19 was suspected to be transferred through air conditioning units. At that time, people all over the world began realizing that the virus was even more contagious than they thought.
To test this virus transmission theory, the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore did a swab analysis in three hospital rooms. An air duct connected all three rooms, and a patient in one room had mild COVID-19 symptoms.
During the study, small amounts of the virus were traced in the air vent, meaning that there’s a slight possibility for the virus to spread through HVAC systems. The patients in all three rooms could’ve come into contact with the virus, even though only one was infected.
This discovery led to additional concerns about HVAC units on cruise ships. One of the most serious cases involved 705 positive cases of COVID-19 on the same boat. The topic of COVID-19 on airplanes also raised concerns in the beginning because of the enclosed space.
“The problem is that these systems can’t filter out particles smaller than 5,000 nanometers,” said Professor James G. Dwyer from Purdue University in Indiana.
Of course, this information was revealed at the start of the pandemic, so there has been plenty of time to address the issue since then. Many businesses worked hard to stop the spread in any way they could. Now, many HVAC systems are more effectively stopping the virus from transferring through vents.
Ways Businesses Are Solving These Problems
With the number of COVID-19 cases decreasing, it’s clear to see that most businesses and individuals are doing their part. One of the easiest ways to avoid the virus passing through vents is to stop recirculating indoor air only. Any viral particle can pass through vents if the air is constantly being recirculated. So, businesses were urged to use more outside air and open more windows to lessen the risk.
During the pandemic, cruise ships and airlines found ways to avoid recirculating potentially harmful particles. Opening a window might not be an option in these scenarios, but improving the filters in HVAC systems can help instead. If a system can catch smaller particles, it might be able to filter out the COVID-19 virus more effectively.
“In any confined area, there is a risk of contracting illnesses from other people,” a statement from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reads. “However, the risk is considered lower on aircraft because of the use of high-efficiency particulate air filters, which are effective in capturing more than 99 percent of airborne microbes in filtered air.”
Yet, as much as businesses are trying to lessen the spread of the virus, it’s important for every individual person to help out too. Try using more outside air and opening more windows in your own home to keep your guests safe. Also, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated are also great ways to protect yourself and others.
Finally, keeping surfaces clean is the most effective way for businesses and individuals to help out. Circulating outside air won’t make much of a difference if you let the virus live on your counter for days. Wipe down objects that are touched often and wash your hands regularly. Of course, cleaning is a normal part of a person’s routine, but it’s especially important in these difficult times.
COVID-19 impacted HVAC just like it did for every other industry. Yet, it’s up to everyone, especially businesses and families, to help stop the spread. For questions related to HVAC units, contact West Isle Heating & Cooling. We can help you choose the best system and give you tips for how to be safe using HVAC.