Many states, including Iowa, have begun the process of loosening stay-at-home restrictions and are allowing businesses to begin resuming normal operating procedures. As businesses begin to reopen and bring employees back into the office, providing a work environment that supports employee health and safety is a main priority.
In this next phase of recovery during COVID-19, businesses are focused on workplace readiness and preparing their building. This includes cleaning plans, pre-return inspections and HVAC and mechanical checks.
Here are some HVAC related tips and things to consider as businesses begin to reopen and employees come back to work.
Commercial HVAC maintenance
Many buildings have been closed for eight weeks or more, making it important to do a thorough inspection of the heating and cooling system. Because of the time of year when COVID-19 heightened in the United States, many building managers may have been unable to schedule their spring commercial HVAC maintenance.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to schedule a maintenance appointment with an HVAC contractor. This will provide much needed cleaning and inspection of equipment as employees begin to return. Here are a few of the key things that should be done during a maintenance and service check:
- Full cleaning of HVAC system
- Inspection of safety switches and devices
- Check of heat exchangers for cracks or damage
- Filter replacement
- Calibration of temperature controls and economizer controls
- Adjustment of fans and belts
- Inspections of all electrical components
- Check for proper AC compressor operations and refrigerant levels
- Check AC cooling coils and clean as needed
When your air filters are replaced we recommend using the highest efficiency rated filter allowed by the manufacturer. If your building or facility manager is replacing the air filters be sure they use proper safety procedures and PPE. Try to avoid dropping or shaking the filter and dispose of the filter in a plastic bag to limit exposure to the indoor office space as much as possible.
Building managers should also do a quick check of the building controls and thermostats to make sure they are at the correct set points and batteries are replaced if needed.
How to improve office air quality
There a couple of things building managers can do to improve indoor air quality (IAQ). Increasing outdoor air ventilation within the office building by adjusting the outdoor air dampers as high as 100% to eliminate recirculation can be helpful but be aware that this can also create some comfort issues as we head into the warm and humid summer months.
We recommend having an HVAC contractor do an inspection of the ventilation system to make sure it is working properly and hasn’t been disconnected because of previous problems. The final thing that can be done to support air flow and ventilation is to run your system 24/7.
There are also a variety of air purification products that support indoor air quality inside the office. These solutions can by no means prevent illness, but they can be used as a preventative measure.
Businesses can look into investing in ion generating air purifiers to support and improve IAQ. Ionizing products have been around for many years, but up until now they have mainly been used in hospitals and labs. This type of air purifier works by using ions to remove particulates, microbes and odors from the air.
We sell a variety of air purification systems and have experts here on staff that are happy to speak with businesses about if one of these products is right for them and answer any additional questions they may have.
HVAC can play a role in helping to control the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace. But even more significant prevention tactics are social distancing, hygiene and our personal behavior.
Here at Bell Brothers, it’s our priority to provide whatever support we can to individuals, families and the small business community during this unprecedented time. If you would like to speak to one of our HVAC professionals as you prepare to reopen your business, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 515-244-8911.