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Facilities Chalkboard - Preparing Your HVAC for Reopening Buildings

Last updated: 06-01-2020

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Facilities Chalkboard - Preparing Your HVAC for Reopening Buildings

HVAC Systems Should Be Inspected Prior to Building Re-Occupancy If you have HVAC systems which were shutdown during shelter-in-place your equipment should be inspected and tested prior to startup HVAC equipment that were turned off during low or no occupancy levels may have unforeseeable issues that need to be addressed prior to starting them up. Visual inspections of the units and the areas around them should occur at a minimum and for some units a complete maintenance regiment including manufacturer's start-up procedures may be necessary. While these large machines sit idle nature tends to take over. Birds, rodents, insects, etc may have found new homes and will need to be relocated. System which rely on water for their operation; chillers, boilers, cooling towers, etc can pose health hazards if the stagnant water has grown fungus or bacteria. Micro-organisms can also grow on coils and drain pans inside air handlers. Filtersfor all systems should be inspected and will likely need to be changed. This may be a good time to re-evaluate the type of filter being used and switch to a higher MERV rating to catch smaller particles/droplets (ASHRAE def. Here). After the equipment passes inspections and are ready to run, be sure to monitor their performance closely for the next few days. Pay close attention to amperage readings and that the proper temperatures are being achieved. We recommend that air handling equipment be run 24x7 with the economizers fully open (100% outdoor air) for as long as possible prior to occupancy. Certainly not an energy saving measure, but possibly a life saving one. "Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures. Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus." % Relative Humidity (%RH) in the return air duct of air handling units Optional, %RH in critical zones and high density areas Create alarms to alert responsible parties when indoor %RH falls outside of recommended levels HVAC Controls to maintain 40-60%RH using feedback from step #1Economizers, heating, cooling

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