Improving indoor air quality is an important consideration for daycares, schools, retail spaces, bars, and restaurants in the tail end of 2020. Outdoor dining and retail won’t be an option once the weather gets much colder. Getting the “cleanest air on the block” will be crucial.
That process starts with your commercial HVAC system’s air filter.
We’ve covered IAQ and filters previously, and specifically when it comes to people’s homes in and around Ocean City, NJ. The same principles apply to retail and other commercial spaces, but the setups — and the stakes — are a little different.
Commercial HVAC Filters 101
Let’s start with the basics: What your commercial filter does, how it does it, and why you need it.
Just like the one in your home, the filter acts as a screen to catch dust, debris, and dirt as it travels through your HVAC system. People naturally track this stuff inside, and it gets sucked into the vents.
Without a screen, you’d end up circulating these pollutants all through the building. They’d come in through one vent spread through the others.
The size, or strength, of the screen determines what kind of particles you’ll capture. Standard filters block “larger” particles like dust and dirt.
Or, you can upgrade to models that catch smaller contaminants, including pollen and dust mites. The strongest catch mold spores, bacteria, and viruses.
Now, you probably know to change the filter in your home heating and cooling system regularly. We recommend once a month for the best results. You should do the same with the one in your commercial building, but we’d like to address one idea that’s floating around.
Standard filters can’t block bacteria and viruses. Those particles are small enough to pass through the screen. But, in theory, if you leave the screen in long enough, it gets clogged. Then, you’ll start blocking those microorganisms, too.
“In theory” is the key phrase here. Yes, you’ll trap smaller particles with a clogged filter. But, you have no way of measuring if it’s working. And, you’ll create too much resistance when not even air can pass through.
When that happens, you get weak circulation throughout the building. You may also damage your heating and cooling system. You’re much better off upgrading the filter than trying a workaround like this.
How To Change Air Filters In 2020
If you don’t have a maintenance agreement for your building, you may be the person in charge of changing the air filter every month or so. The basic process hasn’t changed: Slide out the old one, slide in the new one.
But, with a focus on viral transmission now, you should take a few extra precautions.
In 2020, you should carefully slide the filter directly into a trash bag. Hold it closed, take it outside, and then tie it up.
It’s still very possible to catch some virus particles in a standard filter. You don’t want to shake them loose and then spread around inside. These easy extra steps reduce the chance of that happening.
Upgrading Your Commercial Air Filter
When you use a filter stronger than the standard model, you’ll trap smaller particles and make your air cleaner. They’ll cost a little more but can make a big difference.
The way to tell what you’re getting is by checking the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating on your filter. The higher the rating, the stronger the screen.
Quick side note: some retailers use their own rating system. But, you should be able to find the MERV equivalency.
The ratings go from one to 16. Standard filters get up to around an eight, and they catch dust, carpet fibers, and larger particles.
You can upgrade, but be aware that the higher the rating, the more air resistance you get. You can trust filters around 13 or higher to consistently trap viruses.
Next Steps For Indoor Air Quality For South Jersey Businesses
Upgrading your filter is a significant first step toward improving your IAQ. But it’s not the only thing you can do.
The holy grail this year is an Energy Recovery Ventilator. It’s an HVAC add-on that pumps fresh air directly into the building instead of recirculating what’s already inside.
Long story short: Filters are an important part of your IAQ strategy and just one part of an overall, holistic process.
HVAC Service Near Ocean City, NJ
If you’re looking to make your customers, client and staff feel as safe and healthy as possible this winter, call Broadley’s for HVAC service in or near Ocean City, NJ. We’ve served South Jersey for nearly a century and have stayed updated on the latest trends, developments, and indoor air quality strategies.