Last updated 7/8/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has reached a point where most people are quarantined at home. For this reason, indoor air quality is more important than ever.
Although preventing COVID-19 from spreading is the goal, it’s still not the only illness that can cause respiratory issues. Your HVAC unit is what heats and cools your home, however, when not maintained properly, they can also cause serious respiratory illness.
Here’s what you need to know about the Coronavirus and HVAC units.
Can residential HVAC units bring in COVID-19?
In short, not likely. Based on the current research and evidence, COVID-19 is not an airborne illness. It’s only spreadable through touch. It can only technically be considered airborne if an infected person sneezes or coughs without covering their mouths and small droplets travel through the air, before sinking to the ground.
UPDATE: There is now new evidence that the virus may indeed be airborne.
There is no evidence that you cannot safely run the kind of dedicated HVAC units typical in Florida homes and apartments. The current consensus is that staying at home is the safest place for you to be and there are many effective measures (such as handwashing) that you can take before worrying about your HVAC unit bringing in the virus from outside.
If you are still concerned because you heard something on the news about the virus possibly spreading through HVAC systems, consider that they may have been referring to buildings. HVAC in buildings is a different scenario from that in your home. Read more in the statement made by ASHRAE here.
What can an HVAC unit bring into a house?
Unfortunately, an HVAC unit can still bring in airborne particles, contaminants, and pollutants from the outside. This happens because they bring air in from outside, run it through the coils to be heated and cooled, and is then blown into the house. But in doing so, it can also bring in things like mold spores, pollen, dust, dirt, and other bacteria.
These common allergens cause a variety of health issues such as allergy attacks, asthma attacks, and sinusitis. To prevent this from happening, your HVAC unit has an air filter that purifies the air. However, they do need to be changed every month or so, depending on where you live and whether you have pets.
What can you do to make your HVAC safer?
If you would like to take steps to improve the air quality in your home, there are several things you can do. The easiest is installing better air filters. They may reduce airflow a bit but ultimately filter out more contaminants. Another highly effective method of combating indoor pollutants is by installing home UV products. This light is installed on your air conditioner and destroys molecules in the air passing through. Humidity control and room air cleaners can also help.
What should I do if my HVAC malfunctions?
If your HVAC isn’t working properly, you have two options; try to diagnose the issue or call a professional. If you opt to call a professional, you must inform them if you have a high-risk patient. You must also tell them if someone in the house has the coronavirus. If the HVAC issue is only a minor problem, like a clogged air filter, you can replace it yourself.
COVID-19 has changed the way we live, not only now but in the future as well. Due to how contagious the virus is, you can never be too careful. But even so, that doesn’t mean we have to forego all basic necessities, such as HVAC repair. We just need to be more cautious about what we do and who we interact with.