I have received many questions from you asking, “What should I do at my house?” I put the below info together to help you out. These are just my opinions, as I am not a biologist or medical professional (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once). These tips are what you should all be doing all of the time anyway. For those that do not know, I have four kids ages 5 to 14. Those kids hang out in petri dishes that we call schools where germs exist daily. Nevertheless, those four have only missed maybe a combined total of a dozen days of school ever. My 12 year old has only missed school one time in his life. If someone at my house gets sick, the rest of us do not get it. These are proven solutions in the industry and in my own home.
- Follow CDC Guidelines – Obviously, observe all of recommendations you already heard regarding hand washing, social distancing, etc.
- Ventilate the House
- Indoor air quality is much worse than outdoor air quality in almost every location on the planet. Sealing your house up tight and sitting in it is just plain dumb. Dilution is the Solution.
- Go outside to get fresh air – just because we were advised to stay AT home does not mean we have to stay IN the home. Use your yard. Throw some chicken on the grill (if you can find any chicken lately). Shoot hoops in the driveway. Go for a walk.
- Bring fresh air into the home
- If your duct system has an outside fresh air intake, make sure it is not obstructed. If it has a damper on it, open it. If it has one of those automated damper controllers, you should consider disabling it so it is always open. If you have an HRV or ERV, make sure it is running 24/7.
- If you don’t have a fresh air system (and many of you likely do not), crack open a few windows.
- Remove “bad air” from the home. Many of you have not used your kitchen this much in years. Make sure you are running the hood exhaust fan while using the gas stove or oven… or see my note above about grilling outside. Also, make sure your gas dryer vent is clear. While you are at it, check to make sure all of you other gas appliances (water heater, furnace, fireplace, etc.) are venting correctly and never back drafting.
- Filter the Air
- Make sure your furnace has a clean filter.
- Preferably use a filter with a MERV 13 rating or higher, but make sure it is a 3 or 4-inch wide filter. If you get a high MERV rating filter that is only 1 inch wide (such as those filters they sell at some retail stores) it is likely going to be too pressure restrictive for your system and could cause furnace issues. For many of you, this means you will need a wider filter rack. Look at the Cor, Carrier, or Bryant EZ Flex filter cabinet. It can hold a MERV 10 filter or upgraded to a MERV 13 filter. If you already have the rack (or similar older version), buy the MERV 13 filters and swap them. If you do not have this rack, consider having one of our residential dealers install it for you. We also have similar options from Honeywell.
- If you are in the market for a new filter system, we also have the Carrier Infinity Air Purifier and Bryant Evolution Air Purifiers. They feature Capture & Kill technology, so not only are they MERV 15 rated for filtration ability, but they have been proven to kill viruses, bacteria, and mold.
- If you have the outside ventilation duct that I mentioned in the above section, add an inexpensive 1” low-end filter on just that small duct. This way the more expensive main MERV 13+ filter will not need to be changed as often.
- Purify the Air
- This is where all of the discussion is at and there are several options depending on your situation including the above-mentioned Carrier/Bryant filter-based air purifiers.
- Take a look at Photo Catalytic Oxidation (PCO) technology. We have proven and tested solutions from both Respicaire and Honeywell. These bulbs need to be changed annually.
- At step up from standard PCO devices, is a Respicaire OXY4. It has a 4th oxidizer (hence the name) to help with air purification. It is very quick to install on almost any existing duct systems. Before your installer mounts it, have them open it up and make sure the metal clips are rotated to expose most of the bulb surface. These OXY4 devices have 3rd party test data showing their ability to kill viruses, bacteria, and mold in the air. This has been our best selling air purifier for the past couple of years.
- Do not rely on standard UV Lights. Regular UV lights are fantastic at killing bacteria and mold on your evaporator coil. However, they need a long “shine time” on something to kill germs. Long means hours. Therefore, while they do keep your system clean, they do not really clean the air passing though because it moves too quickly. I am not saying that you should not get one of these, but rather that its purpose in life does not help reduce virus spread. The previously mentioned air purifier products from Honeywell and Respicaire do have UV lights in them, but they also have other components to generate Oxidizers. They are very different from standard UV lights.
- Humidify the Air – I am not a huge fan of humidifiers (for multiple reasons, which I can explain in later blogs). However, if you do have a humidifier, consider raising the humidity to 35%. Listening to multiple biologists speak this week, it seems most viruses struggle when in humidity in the 35 to 55% range.
- Circulate the Air – In order for the above things to work, such as ventilation, filters, and purifiers, they need the air to be moving. You need to switch your thermostat from “fan auto” to “fan on” mode so it runs all of time and allows these solutions to do their jobs. Many of you have debated with me about running the fan continuous… and know that I am normally not an advocate of constant fan mode in all applications (once again, for reasons I can explain in future blogs)… but whenever someone in my house is sick, I switch my fan to run constant 24/7. I have done the same this month as an extra precaution.
- Embrace the “free time” – If your house is like mine, as soon as you get home from work each evening the chaos of sports practices, school homework, and everything else piles up. We often would go weeks without all 6 of us eating dinner together at the same time (no joke). In addition, some of you have college kids that you never see… they come home one weekend a month (or less) and you only notice them about 3 hours during that stretch because of their social lives and long sleeping habits. This may be the only time in all of our lives where our entire families are together for an extended period. Game nights and movie nights are things again. Go have a catch outside. Family bike ride. Enjoy the only benefit of this crappy situation… family time.
What do we have at our house? We have an outside air intake, a Carrier Infinity air furifier filter, a Respicaire OXY4 air purifier, and a variable speed continuously running fan system. We do not have a humidifier, but we are at 42% in house today without it.
Talk to one of our many local Bryant, Carrier, Heil, or Day & Night dealers and have them help you update your home HVAC system.