People are trickling back to the office, albeit reluctantly in many cases. Employers are renovating spaces and adding perks in an effort to make the environment welcoming and make the return to the office more attractive for employees. But what about indoor air quality? Have you done what’s needed to make sure the air in your space is both comfortable and safe?
Attention to air quality and AC maintenance in NYC is essential, both for the satisfaction of returning employees and also for the health of your system.
AC maintenance is essential if your NYC office has been empty for a while
You might think you don’t need maintenance if your air conditioning system has been off or hardly used for a long time. The opposite is true! As more people return to the office, AC maintenance is necessary for the health (and comfort) of your employees and the health of the system.
Here are just a few reasons why:
Startup of a commercial air conditioning system after sitting idle needs to be handled carefully. So if you’re just opening the office, we highly recommend a professional inspection and maintenance as part of your startup process.
The system has been collecting dust and needs to be cleaned (especially the coils) to operate at peak efficiency. It also needs filter changes to prevent airflow problems that can cause system failure. Changing the filters also helps to reduce dust and, depending on the type of filters you use (more on that below), can reduce other types of airborne contaminants that can make people sick.
Drains and pans may be clogged, which can lead to water leaks that cause expensive damage to your space. If water has been leaking while the space was empty, there could also be mold and that can definitely impact the health of your employees.
Certain parts can degrade even when not in use, especially belts and pulleys, as well as other parts that need lubrication.
The occupancy in office space is significantly lower than it was before the pandemic. That changes the load requirements for cooling your space, and your system may need adjustments to optimize the temperature and humidity conditions.
If your system breaks down because you neglected maintenance, that’s not going to help you get people back to the office!
Don’t overlook employees’ concern about IAQ as they return to the office
One of the reasons employees are balking about a full-time return to the office is that they are nervous about the air they breathe in public indoor spaces. Let’s face it, wearing a mask all day is extremely uncomfortable, and doesn’t exactly encourage the collaboration employers are looking for from people in the office.
Employees would rather feel comfortable enough to go unmasked, because they know that the space is well ventilated and has systems in place to filter and purify the air.
Their concern is not only about Covid. The pandemic has brought a broader concern for air quality to the forefront. Since 2020, people have been bombarded with information about the airborne transmission of viruses and bacteria that cause illness. Not to mention the impacts of excess carbon dioxide, VOCs, and other contaminants that can cause health problems.
Employers can address these concerns with regular HVAC maintenance, along with adding technology that makes the air safer.
HVAC solutions for safer indoor air quality
Higher efficiency filters. Higher efficiency filters, especially HEPA filters, can trap smaller particles beyond dust, and may help to trap Covid particles and other pathogens. However, it’s important to know that higher efficiency filters can impede airflow within your system, leading to decreased comfort conditions and higher energy bills. Plus, not every HVAC system can accommodate higher efficiency filters. It’s best to consult with HVAC experts before making the decision to install high efficiency filters.
Air purification technology. You can add devices to your HVAC system that use UV light and ionization technology to deactivate viruses. These devices can be installed within your air distribution system to destroy virus particles within the system. Some products can also be installed in a room to destroy particles in the air.
One product we highly recommend (and we have been installing in both commercial and residential settings) is the REME HALO, which has been proven 99% effective against Covid in independent testing.
Get our helpful guide to learn more about HVAC strategies for fighting Covid and improving indoor air quality.