With Christmas and New Year’s approaching, now is the time for hotel facility managers to prepare their HVAC units for upcoming company holiday parties and gatherings. For hotels renting out conference rooms, mechanical HVAC systems present the greatest opportunity to decrease bacteria and viruses from entering a space and affecting its occupants.
Airborne pathogens are especially disruptive in colder months because people spend more time indoors away from harsh weather, and holiday parties have the potential to become breeding grounds for seasonal illnesses like colds, flu, and sinus infections. The continued concern over COVID-19 cases also provides more reason to take proactive steps to ensure HVAC units are running at their maximum efficiency to produce excellent air quality.
Hotel owners should inspect their HVAC systems to see if anything looks or sounds unusual. Rusty, loose, or malfunctioning components, as well as inconsistent operation sounds, can indicate the need for repairs or full unit replacement down the road. A licensed HVAC contractor can also perform inspections to make sure everything is in working order. When specific features of highly performing HVAC systems operate smoothly together, the results are more likely to include a safe and clean breathing environment.
Ensure Consistent Air Circulation
Moving fresh air into a space and used air out of a space consistently is one of the most important steps to improve indoor air quality. Controlled ventilation allows hotel facility managers to adjust as needed in the air circulation process. Advantages of controlled ventilation are the removal of used air, which can contain allergens, bacteria, mold spores, viruses, and other airborne pathogens, and controlled ventilation to bring in fresh air at the appropriate rate. Hotel owners should check HVAC system fans, blowers, outside and return dampers, and vents to make sure outside air is being properly drawn into their space and removed from the space without issues. Consistent airflow will help holiday party guests have clean, fresh air as they eat, drink, and be merry.
Increase Air Filtration Rate
Removing particulates such as dust, allergens, and smoke from a building will increase the level of air quality by providing the space with clean air. HVAC units must have efficient air filters to ensure air enters buildings at a high filtration rate and contains minimal contaminants.
In preparation for holiday gatherings, hotel owners should check air filters, replace them, and consider upgrading if needed to provide a healthy and safe breathing environment for occupants. In previous years, MERV 8 or MERV 10 was sufficient for air filtration. ASHRAE now recommends MERV 13 to filter smaller particulates. Before updating your filters, however, facility managers need to make sure their HVAC is compatible with the new filter.
For an extra layer of filtration, facility managers should consider additional air-cleaning technology such as Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization. This technology allows positive and negative ions to be delivered to a space via the ventilation system to attach to airborne particulates, cluster, and get them filtered from the air. This is done without producing ozone or harmful byproducts.
Upgrade for Maximized Protection
As with most machines, technological advancements continue in the HVAC field. Upgrading a building’s HVAC equipment can help improve and maintain excellent air quality, protecting occupants from illness and providing a comfortable space for gatherings. Along with air filter upgrades, other components such as coils, ductwork, and thermostats can make a big difference in the performance and longevity of a unit. Although repairs and component upgrades can prolong the need for a full unit replacement, upgrading to a new unit may be necessary depending on the age of the unit and how well it functions.
To expedite preparation for seasonal parties and gatherings, hotel owners should consider establishing an annual maintenance plan if one is not already in place. Within that plan, there should be scheduled checks performed by a licensed HVAC contractor who is familiar with all aspects of commercial HVAC systems and how they should perform in buildings. The combination of regularly scheduled maintenance checks by hotel owners and licensed professionals can ensure a comfortable and healthy environment. By making sure their HVAC systems are running properly, hotel owners can easily provide a layer of protection for occupants to stay safe against illnesses during the holiday season.
About the Author
Joseph Ellison is the sales manager, Engineered Products, for Modine.