Our new office has been a perfect hub during the pandemic. With almost all of us doing work from home, we were able to alternate visits to the office as well as keep safely apart during the worst of the lockdown. As more of us have been working from the office, we are being very careful to wear masks when not at our desks and cleaning surfaces as we use them. After reading an article on the National Public Radio web site about the recommendations by ASHRAE, the organization of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning professionals, I decided to call our mechanical engineer, Charlie Frisina of N & S Supply , and asked if he would design a safer filtration system for our office. Of course, he knew just what to do.
Adam Foord Munderback of AFM Climate Works added Merv 13 filters and 2 UV lights, one on each side of the blower. The CDC recommends Merv 13 filters which in a perfect world, can catch up to 90% of Covid sized particles. Both the article and Charlie emphasized that a business or homeowner should not simply replace their existing filters with HEPA or Merv 13 filters without consulting an HVAC professional. The reason for the proper design is that the system needs to be evaluated and the correct solution implemented since some systems cannot handle the additional load imposed by the more effective filters.
The UV lights installed on our system do not instantaneously kill bacteria or viruses on contact. They are meant to sanitize surfaces inside the plenum over time. In addition to the filters and UV lights, Charlie recommended that we keep our bathroom vent on and even crack some windows in the office to get additional fresh air into the system. This ‘dilutes’ any unwanted airborne particles. Just to be clear, there is no bulletproof protection from catching Covid 19, but a quality air filtration system is one way to reduce risks compared to a standard system.
On a personal note, I have friends who either have elderly relatives living with them or children in college who will be coming home, or both, and have created ‘2-week quarantine’ rooms in their home or in outbuildings on their property. When my daughter comes home from Georgia Tech (currently a Covid hot spot) in the fall, she will quarantine separately from our family for two weeks before getting her well deserved hugs. I don’t know if there are any side effects of being too careful, but I do know what happens when you aren’t quite careful enough.