Should You Service Your Air Conditioner When Fighting Coronavirus Spread?
Can home air conditioning spread the stealthy coronavirus? If so, should you service your air conditioner now to fight the spread of the virus? Is there a way for the virus to infiltrate your home through the AC system?
But first, let’s take a look at how this virus has affected people from different countries.
As of April 21, 2020, there are more than 1,650,000 positive cases around the globe, 97% of the total active cases or more than 1,600,000 infected are categorized as mild conditions while the remaining 3% are in serious or critical condition. Recoveries percentage is at a consolable 79%, a promising number for many countries implementing different measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Currently, the USA has the most number of cases that reached the 700k mark, followed by Spain with 200k plus active cases, Italy with more than 180k, France at 155k plus, and Germany is dealing with 147k plus positive cases. [source]
“Of the reported cases in the U.S., at least 40,683 people have died as a result of the virus, with 18,298 of those deaths reported in New York, 4,362 in New Jersey, 2,391 in Michigan, 1,296 in Louisiana, 1,290 in Illinois and 1,180 related deaths reported in California.” – Livescience
There is no clear indication yet that the spread of the coronavirus is slowing down. Collaborative efforts are on the works to help combat its spread.
COVID-19: The Virus, Transmission, and Cure
The coronavirus disease 2019, officially named COVID-19, is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This newly discovered virus is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus that is highly contagious in humans and has a high transmission rate.
As stated above, most of the infected will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness. Recovery often does not require special medical treatment for these cases. Severe and critical cases are observed mostly in the older population and to those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets transmission. Droplets from saliva when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. When these virus-carrying droplets settle on surfaces it can live on for a certain period. As aerosol in the air, it can live up to 3 hours, up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, on plastic and stainless steel it can survive for 2-3 days. More information about the survival rate of the virus on different surfaces in this post.
Here are the best practices to slow down the spread of the virus and avoid infection.
Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub.
Practice social distancing. Keep at least 1 meter distance from anyone when you are in public places, especially from anyone who’s coughing or sneezing.
Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you’ve washed your hands.
Follow good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
And lastly, stay home.
Unfortunately, there is no specific antiviral medicine available to treat COVID-19 nor a vaccine to protect us from the virus. Affected people, especially those in need of hospital care, are being treated to relieve the symptoms of the disease. Fighting off the invasion of the virus is all on the person’s immune system.
Servicing Your Heating and Cooling System| Preventing the Spread
If you have been staying at home to avoid getting the virus or lives in a city where community quarantine is imposed, then the biggest question right now is probably this: “Does air conditioning spread the coronavirus?”
There is no definite answer to this yet since there is still so much we do not know about the disease or the virus causing it. But certain factors have been considered.
Filtration Capacity and Particles Size
All air conditioners are designed to filter air particles that pass through the system but in different ways depending on the filter type and at different levels. Let’s take for example large buildings with AC units that can’t filter out particles that are less than 5,000 nanometers in size. If we take that filtering capacity into perspective when we have respiratory viruses that are similar to coronavirus which is around 120 nanometers in size, the virus can spread throughout the building without being filtered out. There are traces of COVID_19 virus in AC vents in some hospitals but this has yet to be studied further before a solid conclusion is drawn.
Air Usage in Closed Spaces
Like most buildings and facilities that heavily rely on commercial and industrial air conditioning, the air circling inside is recycled air. If the filtering process of the cooling system fails, particles and contaminants present in one area can be carried over to the other key areas. Proper ventilation is important in combating this as well as allowing fresh air to flow through in these living and working spaces.
Drop in Temperature Levels
Air-conditioned rooms plus low humidity and low temperatures can allow respiratory-illness-causing viruses to survive on the surface which can then trigger infection when touched. Although, it is reassuring to know that there has been no evidence found that supports the idea that home air conditioners commercial AC’s transmit COVID-19 at this time.
Now, should you service your air conditioner just to be safe? For safety purposes, it is crucial to have your heating and cooling system checked by a professional to help minimize the risk of pathogenic and contagion exposure.
Experts at Marthedal Solar, Air & Heating can take a look at the filtering capacity of your existing AC system and provide recommendations, as needed, to improve the indoor air quality of your home. You can also have the vents, air registers, ducts, and outdoor unit checked while you’re at it in preparation for the summer months. Read about comfort air conditioning.
Schedule a service visit now. Talk to us!