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Understanding the Importance of Proper Air Duct and HVAC System Maintenance During Closures

Posted on January 28, 2022
by Vinay Panday

Learn the importance of proper air duct cleaning, sanitization and disinfection when buildings are reopening.
During the pandemic there have been several lockdowns throughout the country and the world that have affected commercial business for weeks or even months at a time. While workers were temporarily laid off, or working from home, there were countless buildings left empty, or near empty. Empty buildings often have their HVAC systems shut down, or reduced, and other maintenance suspended in order to save money and resources. It is vitally important that property managers keep up with HVAC maintenance during these times. Let’s take a closer look at why.

The Lockdown, and Reopen Shuffle
While lockdowns were troublesome for employers and employees, both for economic reasons, and mental health reasons, the pandemic has also had an extra burden on the buildings companies use for their commerce. These burdens have been increased with Omicron, as many places that just reopened fully are now suddenly expecting to close down again, and most likely requiring a full disinfection. Buildings, if properly taken care of, have robust maintenance schedules to ensure they’re kept in good working order and that indoor air quality and other factors are maintained to keep those working inside healthy.
The big problem with lock downs is that often these maintenance schedules get disrupted, maintenance that is needed keeps getting pushed back, and new maintenance issues appear. While left empty or near empty, building owners and maintenance staff will often turn down HVAC systems, meaning less air is being circulated resulting in a build up of dust, allergens, particulates and VOCs settling in rooms and air ducts. Repeated lockdowns mean that even after people get back to work, they may soon be shuffled off again, and maintenance pushed back even more.

Importance of Proper Maintenance During Closings
During building closings, maintenance is still just as important as when the building is at full capacity. The buildup of dust, particulates, or even pathogens sitting around in air ducts suddenly being dislodged at random times could result in extra strain on HVAC systems and HEPA filtration systems.
Completely empty buildings have the biggest risk during closures, as maintenance schedules may be completely suspended, or HVAC systems fully shut down. An HVAC system going from a standstill to a full work cycle strains the motors and components. If maintenance has not been done on schedule, this strain could quickly break down the unit.

Air Duct Cleaning and Maintenance
Any company that is considering reopening after a lockdown needs to put serious consideration into taking advantage of air duct cleaning and maintenance services provided by professionals. Bringing in professionals to do a full cleaning and inspection can help alleviate issues early on in reopening, and make buildings safer for returning workers, especially when it comes to indoor air quality.
Properly maintained air ducts and HVAC systems is one of the places of combat when it comes to pandemics and the spreading of pathogens. With a properly working and maintained system, air can flow freely through the system, cycling air quickly through a building, and having HEPA filters deal with many airborne pathogens before they can spread throughout a building.

Building Sanitization and Disinfection
Sanitization and disinfection of HVAC systems, and surfaces in general, is the other place of combat for dealing with pandemic viruses like COVID-19 (and its most recent Omicron variant). While buildings are sitting unused, sanitization and disinfection schedules are disrupted, and while most viruses will die on surfaces after approximately a week, it’s still very important to do a disinfection sweep before reopening. With other particulates and pathogens that can last longer, possibly settling on surfaces due to lack of air flow from reduced HVAC systems, it is always in the best interest of a building manager to disinfect after a long period of closure for a building.
While normal building maintenance staff will continue to maintain sanitization and disinfection regimes after reopening, the use of a professional disinfection contractor means a building can be quickly sanitized, reducing the amount of time a building needs to be brought back to full working order.

Dangers of Poor Air Quality After When Reopening a Commercial Building
As mentioned before, the indoor air quality of a building can be drastically affected from a building being unused, with their air flows being reduced due to dialed back HVAC systems. Indoor air quality is heavily dependent on fresh air being brought in from the outside through HEPA filters, or at the very least, indoor air being recycled through HEPA filters or UV filters.  With the return of workers after a lock down, if the HVAC system and building haven’t been properly maintained, and freshly sanitized and disinfected, particulates that have been sitting around for weeks or months could be now freshly floating in the air. Even if COVID-19 is not present, particulates, could irritate the lungs of those with asthma, or with weakened lungs and immune systems.
Any extra strain on the human body, especially in the lungs, could increase the likelihood of pathogens affecting the body more severely. In the case of airborne and respiratory viruses like COVID-19 and its Omicron variant, this is very dangerous.

Always Staying Ahead of Problems
Prevention is the best course of action. By properly maintaining a building, even during lockdowns, you can prevent many issues in the future. HVAC systems are the respiratory system of the building. Before reopening after prolonged periods of closure, and regularly every year (or at the recommended schedule of a professional) the HVAC system must be cleaned, sanitized, maintained and disinfected. As well, any surfaces in a building should also be sanitized and disinfected to deal with settling of particulates and pathogens.

Airtek Indoor Air Solutions have successfully completed over 100, 000 duct cleaning projects across commercial and residential properties. Contact https://www.air-tek.net/contact/

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