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September 8, 2020

Restarting Idle HVAC Systems after the COVID-19 Shutdown

In recent months, many businesses that had to shut down their buildings are beginning to reopen their doors. While this is great to see, it’s important these buildings are recommissioned properly.

Recommissioning a building ensures the HVAC system is running as safely and effectively as possible. If the building was completely shut down, it’s possible it could be subject to mould growth and require updated maintenance.

Air Quality

There are many factors that affect a buildings’ indoor air quality once it’s been shut down. These need to be taken into consideration when it’s time to recommission the building.

An important first step in re-starting a buildings’ HVAC system is to check all air intakes to make sure they are clear of and debris and any obstructions such as birds, rodents or insects that may have accumulated in the downtime. It’s possible some have been damaged and need to be replaced with high quality vents.

If a ventilation system has been shut down for a period of time, it is at risk for mould growth. Mould growth greatly affects the indoor air quality of a building and puts occupants at risk of both short and long-term health problems.

Mould will grow whenever a buildings’ relative humidity exceeds 65% for more than 100 days. If the relative humidity is over 80% mould can begin growing within 10 days. Running the buildings HVAC system periodically to maintain a relative humidity of 60% can greatly reduce the chances of mould growth.

System Compliance

Safety and maintenance measures must be kept up-to-date or it may be deemed non-compliant and the building should not be occupied. If HVAC systems have been shut down an HVAC professional should be consulted to ensure proper recommissioning procedures are followed. 

To ensure the building is ready for occupancy, ASHRAE has developed a Building Readiness Plan. The HVAC system must be fully tested before it is reopened. Once it is reopened it must be checked again to ensure the HVAC system is running smoothly.

Maintaining Building Integrity During COVID-19

COVID-19 has created many challenges for business owners including how they operate their building. Whether the building has been completely shut down or running at minimal occupancy, this is an opportunity to get maintenance and a deep cleaning done.

Some buildings may not have been shut down for this long before. It’s important to follow the proper procedures for recommissioning to ensure the integrity of the building and safety of its occupants.

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