CleanAir Solutions Blog
The Role of the HVAC Duct in Spreading COVID-19 & How to Stop It
For several months, we have had to collectively endure international bickering regarding whether COVID-19 is or is not an airborne virus.
Now we know that it IS IN FACT airborne.
We also understand how the large droplets that contain active viruses become airborne and travel to infect people even when we are practicing proper social distancing guidelines.
We even know that there are two basic strategies that can help reduce the threat of infection:
1. Add more fresh air.
2. Remove the active virus from the existing air.
The former is easier to achieve than the latter. The reason removing active viruses from the air is so difficult is because there are so many places the droplets can hide.
One of the most overlooked places that coronavirus droplets can hide is inside air ducts. This makes air ducts a potential conduit to spread COVID-19. In this post, our Clean Air Solutions specialists will tell you how to stop that from happening inside your space.
PSSST. Be sure to read through to the end for a special limited time offer!
The Problem With Ventilation
Ventilation - the process of adding more fresh, oxygenated air to a space - is always a good idea. At least in theory...
Since the onset of COVID-19, we have one big problem though: how does all that fresh air get into your home or workplace?
In most cases, it isn't because you opened a window or left the door ajar. You are using your HVAC fan and blower to pull fresh air in from outside and push it into your space.
If you have a central (ducted) HVAC system, what this means is all that fresh air has to pass through your duct system to get to you.
This was fine when we still thought that COVID-19 could be stopped by simply social distancing from the virus. The moment we discovered it was an airborne virus, all that changed.
Now, guess what the fresh incoming air is likely to pick up along the way? If you guessed "coronavirus droplets" you now understand why indoor air duct cleaning is suddenly on everybody's radar.
True, the increase in fresh incoming air can have a diffusing impact on the density of active virus particles, but it is still moving them in the wrong direction - sending them into your space rather than out of your space.
The threat is especially severe in spaces where the minimum recommended ventilation rate is not being met. (The current recommendation is for six complete air changes every hour for a room sized 100 square meters, or 10 x 10, that contains three to four people.)
Unfortunately, the vast majority of homes, workplaces and now schools do not meet this minimum requirement.
How Indoor Air Duct Cleaning Helps to Stop the Spread Of COVID-19
The average air duct has never been cleaned since its original installation. Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we can personally attest to this as fact.
Most of our customers have inherited their air duct system along with their home or commercial building. They have no record of past maintenance from the prior owner. This means that the majority of our clients who schedule an indoor duct cleaning service with us have never done so before.
Even if we didn't know that though, it is easy to tell as soon as we hook up our tiny camera and take a look inside the air ducts themselves.
(Curious to see what we see inside the average air duct before we clean it? Watch this short video and find out.)
We now know that the reason COVID-19 is airborne has to do with evaporation and air quality, or rather a lack thereof. At first, the droplets are large and heavy, but as evaporation goes to work, the droplets get smaller and lighter.
If the air is filled with floating micro-particulate solids like dust, pollen, dander, mould spores and ash, the smaller droplets can hitch a ride on top of them and travel greater distances.
They can enter air ducts and travel from room to room and floor to floor. This is how COVID-19 has spread in some multi-unit dwellings, infecting people who are using common areas like elevators and laundry facilities.
Once COVID-19 has entered the air duct system, there are only a handful of options to remove it.
Adding a HEPA filter can trap some of the circulating droplets as they re-enter the duct system.
Adding an ultraviolet air purifier can de-activate some of the droplets as they pass over the HVAC coils.
As for the rest of the harmful droplets? They will have to be manually removed from the ducts. They must be removed in such a way that none of the particles can escape during the removal process, thus re-entering the air supply.
How Indoor Air Duct Cleaning Works to Remove Droplets
Air duct cleaning can:
- Reduce the levels of dirt and debris.
- Reduce the levels of mold.
- Reduce the levels of pollen.
- Reduce the levels of dust mites.
- Improve the efficiency of your HVAC system.
- Reduce asthma and allergy symptoms.
- Improve your home's indoor air quality.
There are many different types of indoor air duct cleaning technologies. Our qualified HVAC technicians at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton use a negative-pressure, commercial grade, RotoBrush hose and brush system with a built-in HEPA filter-equipped vacuum.
The whole duct cleaning process takes about half a day for our HVAC technicians to complete. Trapped matter is dislodged and extracted securely so that there is zero discharge back into the indoor air.
At the end of the process, many of our Clean Air Solutions customers remark that they suffer much less from seasonal allergies, cold and flu. It is also possible to safely add extra ventilation after duct cleaning.
Take 10 Percent Off Any Duct Cleaning Package!
Our commercial-grade indoor air duct cleaning, deodorizing and sanitizing service at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton features the unstoppable RotoBrush System.
Right now, take 10% OFF any of our three popular duct cleaning packages.
When you book now, we will also give you a $50 credit towards any whole-home humidifier purchase and installation.
Contact Our Qualified HVAC Technicians At Clean Air Solutions Hamilton
Here at Clean Air Solutions in Hamilton, we are considered an essential business and remain open to serve our customers safely with contact-less options during this difficult time.
Ragweed Versus COVID: What You Need to Stay Healthier This Fall
After the year we've had so far, the annual arrival of ragweed season may feel distinctly anti-climactic…or it would feel that way, except for all those bothersome allergy symptoms.
Mid-August through October is quite simply prime time for ragweed allergies here in Ontario province, and this year the irritating pollen started showing up as early as late July.
Right now, however, is when pollen counts are highest. This is especially scary this year because ragweed can produce health symptoms that sound eerily similar to the onset of COVID-19.
How can you tell which one is causing your respiratory and health symptoms?
Even more importantly, how can you bolster your defences against all of it? Read on to find out!
Bumper Crop of Ragweed This Year in Ontario
Ragweed is an opportunistic plant - a weed, if you will. And guess where ragweed grows most abundantly here in Canada?
If you guessed southern Ontario, you know why many of us have ragweed on the mind right about now. This year, ragweed season came a full two weeks early. Warmer than usual temperatures have also helped this year's ragweed crop thrive.
And by "thrive," consider this: one single ragweed plant can easily release more than one billion pollen grains into the airspace around it. If you have allergies, this is about the worst time of year for flare-ups.
While ragweed season is never a highly anticipated annual event here in Ontario, this year it is even less welcome at a time when we are all trying to stay as healthy as possible to avoid catching COVID-19.
Ragweed Allergy Versus COVID-19 Symptoms
The symptoms of ragweed allergies versus COVID-19 can look quite similar because both ragweed and COVID-19 primarily attack the respiratory system.
First, let's take a look at what to watch for if you are sensitive to ragweed pollen.
- Post-nasal drip
- Runny nose
- Respiratory congestion
- Sinus pressure, pain and headache
- Itching of the nose, mouth and eyes
- Eyes that are red and watery
- Feeling of pressure in and around the nose and upper face
- Coughing, wheezing.
- "Popping" or blocked ears
- Skin rash
- Blue-tinged or swollen area under the eyes
- Decreased sense of smell
- Decreased sense of taste
- Decreased sleep quality
Do any of these sound like another set of even more worrisome symptoms we are all concerned about right now?
Next, let's take a look at some commonly agreed-upon symptoms of COVID-19.
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Nasal drip or runny nose
- Chills or fever
- Body aches
- Blue-tinged lips or face
- Chest pain or congestion
- Mental confusion
- Excessive sleepiness
- Loss of sense of smell
- Loss of sense of taste
It is true that there is a wider range of potential symptoms associated with the onset of COVID-19, but what matters more is both ragweed allergies and COVID-19 share less typical symptoms, such as loss of sense of smell or taste along with the more typical respiratory symptoms.
Do You Have a History of Ragweed Pollen Sensitivity?
Because ragweed allergies and COVID-19 do share some unusual symptoms, take a moment now to think back to previous years. Do you have a known sensitivity to ragweed pollen?
If you are not sure, consider that fully one-third of Canadians self-report as being seasonal allergy sufferers, and nearly all of these report sensitivity to ragweed as well as other seasonal pollens.
So, if you have suffered from any type of seasonal allergies in years past, you have a higher than average chance of being sensitive to ragweed pollen as well.
Preventing or Treating Ragweed Allergies or COVID-19
Another area where ragweed allergies and COVID-19 are too similar for comfort is in the steps recommended to prevent exposure.
There is no cure for ragweed allergies and no foolproof prevention. But you can take steps to reduce your exposure while out and avoid bringing the pollen into your home. This will protect your indoor air quality.
The best prevention is to avoid contact, just as it is with COVID-19.
This requires taking extra precautions when returning home after being outside. Wash your hands and your clothing. Leave your shoes at the door. Wash all produce thoroughly.
Just as with COVID-19, there is currently no cure, but there are medical treatments to ease the discomfort of some of the health symptoms.
There are also three indoor air quality systems that offer protection against exposure to ragweed and SARS-CoV-2.
Installing HEPA Filtration to Guard Against Ragweed and COVID-19
HEPA filtration is the best way to reduce airborne exposure to ragweed pollen. HEPA filters can block airborne solid particles like pollen with 99.97% efficiency.
Traditional HEPA filters will not work with any HVAC system rated MERV 16 or below.
The best way to add HEPA filtration is to install a standalone HEPA filtration system to work with your central (ducted) HVAC.
If you have window units or ductless HVAC, a portable freestanding HEPA filtration system will do the same job.
Ultraviolet Air Purification Adds Extra COVID-19 Protection
To guard against COVID-19 exposure, you will need more than just a HEPA filter.
You also need ultraviolet air purification, which can neutralize liquid and gaseous droplets that contain active SARS-CoV-2 viral matter.
Ultraviolet air purification systems are available for both ducted (central) and non-ducted indoor spaces.
Indoor Air Ventilation Is Critical to Increase Indoor Air Safety
Finally, pairing HEPA filtration and UV air purification with enhanced indoor air ventilation will give you the most protection against contact with SARS-CoV-2 and ragweed pollen exposure.
Get in Touch With Clear Air Solutions In Hamilton
Here at Clean Air Solutions in Hamilton, we are considered an essential business and remain open to serve our customers safely with contact-less options during this difficult time. Interested in improving your indoor air quality? Give Clean Air Solutions a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online.
Researchers Just Confirmed COVID-19 Is Airborne: Steps to Protect Yourself
Even as our planet’s outdoor air becomes noticeably cleaner in the wake of the worldwide pandemic, our focus is increasingly shifting to a concern about the quality of our indoor air.
And with good reason, as it turns out.
Just this past week, a research team working at the University of Florida finally captured what researchers worldwide are calling a “smoking gun.” They were able to culture and grow live SARS-CoV-2 virus taken from airborne circulating infectious droplets.
What the team found simply confirms what 239 researchers previously stated in an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO). Social distancing is not enough protection. More must be done to contain the spread of COVID-19.
So now that we know, what can you do? That is the focus of this blog post.
4 New Research-Backed Lessons About COVID-19 in Indoor Spaces
Given that this new research is barely days old, it is too early to say for sure what the ripple effect will be at workplaces, in schools and even in the home.
What is clear already though, is that it is time to stop splitting hairs about how big or small the airborne droplets have to be, how fast or far they can travel and even the concentration that “must” be present to infect someone who encounters active airborne coronavirus.
The truth is, each of these variables still doesn’t factor in the health of the individual that encounters the virus. We must remember we still know very little about why some people get COVID-19 and some people do not get it.
This means more caution rather than less is absolutely the order of the day.
These are the four main lessons that have come out of this breaking research:
- COVID-19 lives quite well and lasts a relatively long time in an airborne state.
- Active, live virus particles can travel much farther than two meters.
- The smaller the aerosol particles are, the higher the risk of transmission.
- Social distancing alone is completely ineffective to stop the threat in indoor spaces.
4 Key Ways to Protect Yourself from Indoor Airborne COVID-19
Even if we learn everything there is to learn about COVID-19 – how it transmits, how much you have to inhale to get infected, how long it lives on this or that surface – we may never discover why one person gets infected and the next person does not.
We are, however, learning more every day about how to protect ourselves from becoming the next COVID-19 statistic.
These four tips will help you stay safer starting now.
1. Stay out of public spaces (yes, even if you are wearing your mask).
This is not easy to hear or pleasant to type, but the research study that delivered the “smoking gun” evidence was conducted in a COVID-19 hospital ward outfitted with every possible safety precaution, including laboratory-grade ventilation, air purification and filtration.
What this means is that, for the foreseeable future at least, all public spaces pose a risk of potential infection. So, the safest thing you can do for yourself and your family is to stay home.
2. Wear a proper mask and keep washing your hands.
While the wealth of customized mask products in cute patterns might suggest otherwise, a mask is not a fashion accessory. The only reason to wear a mask is to prevent active viral particles from entering your body.
Not all masks are created equal here. Be sure to do your research to verify that the mask type you have been using can actually protect you.
It is also vital to wear that mask properly so that it covers your nose and your mouth and fits snugly around the lower portion of your face.
Proper hand washing is still considered a vital source of protection as well.
3. Bolster your immune system and stay healthy.
If it seems like we learn something new about COVID-19 nearly every day, this is because we actually do. It is easy to forget we are still in the very earliest phases of even understanding the virus that is causing this pandemic, much less understanding how to stop it.
Your own immune system is the number one protection you have against the infectious droplets that cause COVID-19.
Everything from chronic stress to sleep deprivation to poor diet to a sedentary lifestyle to pre-existing health issues may weaken your immune response if or when you come in contact with the new novel coronavirus.
You want your immune system to be in its finest fighting form if this happens. So, get enough sleep and do everything you can to stay as healthy as you can.
4. Add indoor air ventilation, filtration and purification.
The research study you read about here earlier was conducted in a hospital setting, which means that simply installing indoor air quality improvements alone won’t offer you the full protection you need against COVID-19.
In fact, relatively bizarre factors ranging from your nostril size and shape to how much nose hair you have can also impact how easily you become infected as well as how sick you get after infection.
Yet again, this also means that every bit of extra protection can potentially lower your risk.
Here is an example. In that same hospital study, the concentration of active airborne viral droplets was very low.
Home, school and workplace versions of these same air quality protections are readily available to help you and your family reduce your risk of infection.
Get in Touch With Clean Air Solutions
Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we are considered an essential business and remain open to serve you safely with contact-less options during this difficult time.