With the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all become a lot more conscious of the air we breathe and potential germs in our surroundings. Washing hands regularly, sanitizing high-traffic areas, and staying home are all helpful and effective measures that can limit the spread of illness from one person to another. However, a properly working air cleaner or HVAC filter can play an additional role in limiting the spread of airborne particles in your home or office building. While a home air filtration system alone is not enough to protect yourself from getting sick, a clean air filtration system can be an added protection in limiting your exposure to COVID-19 or other airborne contaminants.
How an HVAC Filter Contributes to Fresh, Clean Air
Indoor air in your home or office building contains pollutants that can harm your health. These pollutants such as pollen, mold, cleaning chemicals, and building matter can end up in your home through activities happening indoors, or they can travel in from outside. An HVAC system is designed to filter these pollutants out of the air in your home or building as it circulates from room to room.
Similarly, your HVAC system or a portable air cleaner can help to filter out airborne viruses similar to and potentially including SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). By decreasing the number of harmful particles circulating in your home or building, you can decrease the chances of someone breathing in those particles and potentially getting sick. And while an HVAC filter cannot remove all of the airborne particles in your home or building, having a high-quality air filtration system contributes to cleaner air and potentially better health for those inside.
What Type of Filter Should I Use to Help Remove COVID-19 Particles From My Home?
While it is still unknown which type of filter will be best in removing SARS-CoV-2 particles and droplets from the air, we do know that low-efficiency filters are highly unlikely to make a difference. These types of filters cannot remove smaller particles in the air, meaning they are less likely to filter out airborne viruses such as COVID-19. As long as your high-efficiency filter is installed properly, it can remove particles similar in size to SARS-CoV-2 particles.
Can I Use a Portable Air Cleaner?
A portable air cleaner can be effective in filtering airborne particles from a room as long as the portable cleaner is appropriately sized for the room it’s in. Your air cleaner should also be properly maintained and the filter should be changed frequently in order to filter effectively.
Other Ways to Improve Air Quality & Ventilation in Your Home
The Center for Disease Control lists various approaches to properly ventilating your home. In addition to a clean and functioning air filtration system, there are additional measures you can take to improve air quality in your home:
Run Your Air Cleaner for Longer Periods of Time
For both HVAC systems and portable cleaners, you can increase the amount of air that gets filtered by running the cleaner for longer periods of time at a higher speed. When the fan is running faster, more air will pass through the filter, allowing for the removal of more pollutants from the room.
Open Your Windows
Another simple, yet effective, way to increase natural ventilation in your home is to open some windows. Simple techniques such as opening windows at opposite ends of your house can allow air to flow from one side to the other and keep the air in your home in motion. While this is most effective if you open your windows completely, even cracking them can increase ventilation.
Use Overhead and Portable Fans Throughout Your Home
Consider turning on overhead fans in rooms and bathrooms or adding portable fans throughout your home to help keep air circulating. You can also place a fan near an open window or a screen door, blowing indoor air outside. If you’re using a single fan in your home, be sure to point it in the direction of natural air flow. This can be determined by holding a lightweight fabric or dropping a piece of paper and seeing which direction they move.
Change your HVAC or Air Cleaner’s Filter Regularly
Improve the ventilation in your home by changing the filter on your portable air cleaner or HVAC system regularly. Typically, the filter should be changed every three months to keep clean air circulating in your home, but check the manufacturer’s instructions for the exact guidelines for your unit.You can also increase the efficiency of your HVAC filtration by having a professional install pleated filters, which can be found at most hardware stores and provide a higher level of filtration than non-pleated options.
Limit the Number of Visitors to Your Home
The more people inside your home, the more particles can accumulate—potentially including COVID-19 particles. To mitigate this risk, it will help to limit the number of people you allow in your home at a time, particularly in enclosed spaces. Try to gather in larger areas where people can maintain a six-foot distance from one another.
Make Sure Your Air Cleaner or HVAC is Working Properly
The best way to ensure that your HVAC is contributing to excellent indoor air quality in your home is to have it regularly inspected by a professional. At Wyckoff Heating and Cooling, we can help you better ensure that your home is free from airborne contaminants by inspecting your HVAC and providing regular tune ups. Please contact us today if you’d like to schedule a tune up!