We are in the seventh month of our COVID response. While New York State has not issued ventilation guidelines for buildings other than Fitness Centers, many building owners are being proactive in this area. We have investigated the various options available and provide these observations and recommendations:
There are generally four options available to improve the ventilation systems at your home or office facility: MERV-13 filter upgrades, Bi-polar Ionization, Ultra Violet Light, and Disinfecting Filtration Systems (air sanitizers).
- MERV-13 filter upgrades- while replacing existing filters mounted in a residential furnace, rooftop unit, or larger central air handlers sounds like a simple solution; the bacteria size of the COVID virus is too small for MERV-13 filters to be effective. Furthermore, it is generally accepted that airflow is greatly reduced by installing MERV-13 filters so much that it “chokes” smaller units such as furnaces and rooftop equipment. This will freeze up evaporator coils, damage compressors and fan motors on smaller units. Finally, MERV-13 filters can usually be installed in larger commercial air handling equipment, if they are protected by a pre-filter, the high efficiency filters will need to be replaced very frequently, which is very costly.
- Bi-polar Ionization units- this technology is attractive for retrofitting most residential furnaces and rooftop equipment up to, say 12-15 tons. The airborne particles passing through the ionizer are positively and negatively charged which creates a magnet affect. The particles connect to each other and become so dense that they fall out of the airstream or become large enough to be captured in a standard air filter. The equipment is fairly inexpensive and easy to install and maintain.
- Ultra Violet Light- these systems are very effective and actually kills the virus and other bacteria. However, UV light requires an extended contact time with the virus in order to kill it. Since the COVID virus is airborne, UV technology does not allow enough contact time to be effective installed in a ventilation system. UV light is very useful when installed in a static environment such as sterilizing surfaces.
- Disinfecting Filtration Systems- The technology used is also very effective in killing the virus. As air passes through an electrified grid the bacteria is vaporized. The DFS systems are currently the only FDA approved technology. There are many manufacturers currently selling the DFS units. The term “air sanitizers” is typically associated with DFS systems.
Please call us to discuss your specific building needs at 716-634-0100.