Are HVAC Upgrades An Option to Protect Homeowners From COVID-19 - 27 East

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Are HVAC Upgrades An Option to Protect Homeowners From COVID-19

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A technician from Flanders Heating and Air Conditioning, which has been advising clients on different ways they can improve air filtration and circulation in the home.

A technician from Flanders Heating and Air Conditioning, which has been advising clients on different ways they can improve air filtration and circulation in the home.

Merv 13 filters are one thing homeowners are requesting to help purify their air at home.

Merv 13 filters are one thing homeowners are requesting to help purify their air at home.

Alec Giufurta on Jun 30, 2020

As the regions of New York State move through the four phases of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Forward plan, East End residents have found new ways to protect themselves from COVID-19 outside the home. Now, some local companies are offering at-home protections against what may be a lasting threat to public health.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or HVAC, system upgrades, may offer a level of protection to homeowners against the COVID-19 virus. And although knowledge of how the virus is transmitted is still mixed, some East End businesses are offering packages to protect against a myriad of transmission modes.

Flanders Heating and Air Conditioning, is advertising air purification systems that offer “99% effective” protection against viruses. Yet their homepage acknowledges a profound uncertainty among public health officials as well –– their systems are still being tested to protect against COVID-19.

Likewise, consensus among health officials as to whether or not the virus is airborne is mixed. The World Health Organization has maintained a position that aerosols do not significantly contribute to the spread of COVID-19. In a study published on their website, data from China showed that out of a total 75,465 COVID-19 cases, airborne transmission did not occur.

Doug Matz, president of Flanders Heating and Air Conditioning, believes his systems offer the best guarantee of protection regardless.

Currently, Matz is offering clients the opportunity to upgrade their air filter to a MERV 13 level. The Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University states on its website that this is the level of filtration used in hospital general surgery areas.

Flanders Heating and Air Conditioning is also offering customers the opportunity to increase at-home air exchange levels –– bringing more air from the outdoors in. Matz is using “Energy recovery ventilators, where we exchange outside air within inside air and bring fresh air into the house efficiently,” he said in a Tuesday phone call.

Since initiating their focus on COVID-19 in March, Flanders Heating and Air Conditioning has upgraded over 200 homes with MERV 13 filters, air scrubbers or air exchange enhancements.

Matz acknowledged the lack of consensus as to whether COVID-19 is transmitted through aerosols, pointing to an air scrubber as a catch-all solution –– their website indicated that an air scrubber can kill 99% of surface contaminants.

“An air scrubber is … going out and killing the airborne bacteria and surface bacteria and viruses,” Matz explained. He called it the “single best product” he offers that customers can add to their home.

On the East End, sales of HEPA filters –– which can trap smaller particles than a MERV 13 filter –– may be on the rise.

At Wainscott Hardware, Joe, a manager who declined to provide his last name, explained how “People are buying more and more of them,” affirming that he advises clients they reduce the risks of diseases.

To upgrade at the level Matz is advising clients, the cost varies within the $6,000 to $8,000 range, he said.

In a report by the The New York Times, several HVAC systems consultants concurred that upgrading an at-home air purification system may yield some benefits –– the experts still exercised caution in assuming how the virus is transmitted.

In a post on his LinkedIn, Professor William Bahnfleth, Architectural Engineering of Pennsylvania State University, wrote that “Systems that provide good ventilation and efficient air filtration for fine particles can reduce risk.”

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