Six Important Ventilation Precautions
Although hygiene plays a decisive part in protecting against transmission of Coronavirus, research has revealed the significance of airborne spread of the infection, placing ventilation on the front line in the fight against the pandemic.
Here are six ways to help combat infections in ventilation systems and improve their overall effectiveness:
- Fusty, stale air indicates a problem with the ventilation. Introducing fresh air from outside into a building dilutes microbes and other infectious material, reducing the likelihood of contagion. So, implement regular checks to ensure the ventilation system is operating at its optimum. This is something to consider if meeting up with family this Christmas – keeping windows open where possible will help reduce risk.
- Consider the fresh air ratio. CIBSE’s COVID-19 Ventilation guidance, published in May 2020, adopts a precautionary approach with the objective of ventilating spaces as much as reasonably possible with outside air as a measure to reduce transmission risk. It is intended to give business owners and managers an outline of ventilation systems commonly encountered in buildings to assist in the preparation to re-open workplaces and how they can be used to reduce the risks of airborne infection.
- Avoid draughts (unwelcome currents of cool air in rooms or other confined spaces). As the Energy Saving Trust (EST) explains: “Controlled ventilation helps reduce condensation and damp by letting fresh air in when needed. However, draughts are uncontrolled: they let in too much cold air and waste too much heat.” Although the EST is referring specifically to domestic properties, the same principles apply in commercial buildings – draught-proofing a building involves blocking up unwanted gaps that let cold air in and warm air out.
- Regularly maintain and/or refurbish the entire ventilation system, including air handling units (AHUs). Many AHU components can be maintained and/or replaced including fans, filters, heaters and cooling coils, dampers and burners. But whatever your AHU needs, it pays to consider them in association with a reliable, knowledgeable partner with an established track record.
- Check the filters and ensure they are clean and are not harbouring potentially dangerous pathogens. Also ensure the correct filters are fitted. And consider prefiltration in the form of Air Intake Screens – long-lasting mesh filter with extraordinarily low impact on airflow and static pressure which extends the life and increases the reliability of coils. Condenser and evaporator coils are normally left unfiltered, leading to a build-up of seasonal debris such as leaves and pollen.
- Disinfect the system. There are various options for achieving this, but I would strongly recommend UV (ultra-violet) airflow disinfection. UV light can prevent bacteria, viruses and organic growth from taking hold throughout a ventilation system, killing up to 99% of airborne pathogens. My own company is able to supply and install UVGI Filtration systems into most AHUs or duct systems. And ECEX UVGI filtration systems can be retrofitted into existing ventilation units to instantly disinfect airflow.