January 26th, 2022
In the fall of 2021, a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was discovered. We’ve all heard that wearing masks can help protect you but what about the air inside your home? Let’s get into it, right now.
Hi, I’m Isaac with Fire & Ice. You might be wondering, why is an HVAC company talking about COVID-19 and masks? Believe it or not one of the tenets of HVAC is airflow and filtration. We’re in the business of moving air and if we’re able to help reduce the amount of COVID-19 in the air we’re going to do everything in our power to make that happen. In this video we’ll go over some ways you can help improve the air quality inside your home.
What are N95 Masks?
According to the CDC one of the most effective ways to combat the spread of the virus is to wear a mask. An effective mask is considered to be made with two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric and needs to be worn completely over your nose and mouth. A good mask should also fit snugly to minimize any gaps. N95 masks are considered the gold standard when it comes to offering the most protection from airborne particles. They are effective at filtering particles of .3 microns in size. For comparison the average human hair is around 70 microns wide. The CDC recommends that N95 masks be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders.
What can be done in your home?
Masks are a great way to protect you on an individual level but what can be done in your home? In the world of HVAC there are a number of options when it comes to filters for your system. The most common filter type are your standard 1-inch filters. Next up are your larger 4-inch filters. Other popular filter types include electric filters. Each vary in the amount of particulates they can remove from the air. All filters are rated by a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV rating system is a scale of 1-16. A MERV rating of 16 can remove particulates between .3 and 1 microns. Additionally, filters can be labeled a HEPA filter if they are able to remove at least 99.97% of particles of .3 microns in size. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA filters can capture pollen, dirt, dust, moisture, bacteria, and even some viruses like COV ID 19.
Can N95 and HEPA Block COVID?
The short answer is yes. But the longer answer requires a deeper understanding of how filtration works. There has been some discussion on the size of the SARS-CoV-2 virus being smaller than .3 microns and there’s this belief that the virus can slip right through N95 or HEPA rated filters. The truth is, these viruses tend to bond to other particles as they propel through the air. The most common form of this bonding is to moisture droplets like mucus and saliva associated with sneezing. While the covid virus might be smaller than .3 microns their relative size when they are bound to other particulates is much larger. It’s this reason why HEPA filters and N95 masks are considered effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Additional Protections for your home
Air filtration is one line of defense to protecting your family and improving the quality of air inside your home. Another is through air purification.
There are a number of products on the market today. Many use UV lamps. Ultraviolet light is deadly to living organisms and has been shown to kill off mold spores and bacteria, and even neutralize some viruses. UV lamps are usually installed inside the HVAC system, typically near the evaporator coil, which can be a haven for germs and other nastiness to grow.
At Fire & Ice, the air purification product we recommend the most is the REME Halo. It uses UV light that releases charged particles into your home that ionizes the air, causing particulates to bond together, neutralizing them. This ionizing process causes the neutralized particulates to clump together making it easier to be captured inside the filter. The nice thing about this product is it’s completely harmless and produces negligible levels of ozone.
What can you do right now?
If you’re looking to improve the air quality inside your home the easiest thing to do is look for filters with a higher MERV rating or filters that meet HEPA standards. If you’re looking for added protection with air purification or other indoor air quality solutions feel free to give us a call. We’d love to sit down with you and go over your options. Thank you for watching and we look forward to making your day better.