AC systems maintenance key in COVID-19 crisis

It’s a message we keep hearing from the Government and medical advisors during the coronavirus crisis – ‘we’re following the science’.

The problem we’re all learning, is the science, like the thinking and subsequent policies, is constantly being updated as more is learned seemingly by the hour about this lethal virus.

And the advice can, therefore, appear somewhat confusing or even contradictory – take the masks aren’t necessary/masks are mandatory in shops conundrum.

And so it is with concerns around air conditioning units – do they increase the risk of virus transmission and if so, how can that risk be managed? At a time when the Government is reinforcing its message urging people to return to their workplace, questions are being asked about the safety of HVAC systems.

According to information posted on the website of the Global Heat Health Information Network (GHHIN) and endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO): ‘Air conditioning and ventilation systems that are well-maintained and operated should not increase the risk of virus transmission’.

Air conditioning and ventilation systems in schools, hotels, hospitals and other high-use buildings should be inspected regularly with filters replaced or cleaned as often as possible to avoid the possibility of them harbouring the virus.

It is fresh air that reduces contaminants in indoor environments and so where fan coil units or direct expansion (DX) units are in place, windows and doors should be left open to increase ventilation and the flow of fresh air into the space.

The GHHIN added: ‘If the air conditioning or ventilation system is not well maintained and operated, there are two potential mechanisms through which it could contribute to virus transmission: the system itself could recirculate contaminated air; and/or could create indoor conditions (temperature and humidity) that support virus survival.’

They warned against setting systems too cold (below 70F/21C) or “dry” low humidity settings (below 40%) ‘as these are optimal conditions for the virus to survive’.

As one of its new popular services aimed at helping Britain get back to work safely, Syntegra offers its ‘Building Services Health Check’.

A full survey on a typical office building is estimated to take 1 to 3 days and all on-site checks will be conducted in a socially distanced manner by Syntegra staff wearing PPE.

Our Building Services Health Check can be tailored to include the following specialist areas:

  • Indoor air quality survey and risk assessments (VOCs/Odour/Dust/ airborne contaminants)
  • Workplace noise & vibration risk assessments
  • Legionella survey and risk assessments
  • TM44 AC system efficiency inspections and certification
  • Biological COVID-19 touch point testing
  • Heating, Ventilation and AC condition surveys (HVAC)
  • Electrical systems condition surveys
  • Energy efficiency fabric/systems review
  • Workplace lux level risk assessment
  • Life safety systems compliance check

Full details of the service can be found here.