HVAC + Plumbing

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC Systems are the Hot Topic in High-rise Buildings (Updated)

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC Systems are the Hot Topic in High-rise Buildings (Updated)

How does a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system help high-rise buildings with their main HVAC issues? Learn about sick buildings, VRF solutions, and healthy IAQ.

Heating + Water Issues Closing Older Elementary Schools During Cold Weather

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Baltimore, MD -- Four schools in Baltimore, MD were closed because of heating or water issues so far this year.

The city school spokesperson, Edie House-Foster said, "Over the winter break, facilities staff monitored schools to check on heating systems, plumbing, and electricity.  Numerous problems were identified and resolved.  Unfortunately, with the extreme temperatures, new problems can emerge quickly." 

Parents, students, and teachers have been posting about the terrible conditions.  Classroom thermometers are showing 30 degree rooms.  Some classes are taking place in the cafeteria because it is too cold in the classrooms.

The Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen declared a "code blue," which states that the the temperatures are dangerously low.

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"We have many schools with leaky windows and outdated heating systems that have a hard time keeping up.  With extreme temperatures, we have the added challenge of freezing pipes and water main breaks," said Wen.

According to healthyschools.org, temperature has a significant impact on student learning.  According to a study completed by the organization, the ideal classroom temperature is 72 degrees.  When a school is too hot, it reduces test scores by 22%.  When it is too cold, it reduces test scores by 17%.

Students are also negatively impacted by allergies.  When schools properly maintain the HVAC, they have found that test scores increase 17.3%.  Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) impacts allergies.  By having a strong IAQ management plan, allergy symptoms will be reduced and improve attention spans.

HVAC and Flu + Cold Season - What You Should Know

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February is the peak of cold and flu season.  If your office is anything like ours, everyone has gotten a bug at some point this season.  In fact, it is the worst cold and flu season in almost a decade.  It is on pace to reach the death toll of 2014-2015's cold and flu season.  During that period, 56,000 Americans died of the flu.

Did you know HVAC can have an effect on colds and flu?

It's true!

Your HVAC filters air throughout the property.  By making smart HVAC decisions, you can reduce the likelihood of cold or flu viruses spreading.

cold and flu season

1.  Change your air filter

HVAC filters should be changed monthly with high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filters.  These filters can reduce tiny particles in the air that can spread colds and flu.


2.  Moisture in the air

Studies have found that the reason that flu season is in the winter is because of the lack of humidity.  Humidity affects how long the flu virus is stable.  It is believed that the water vapor deforms the virus.  

Add a whole house humidifier to your property, if you don't already have one.  In addition to deforming the flu virus, humidifiers reduce the symptoms of colds like sore throats, post nasal drip, congestion, and scratchy throat.

3.  Keep temperatures warm

Button you coat; you'll catch a cold!  While that is not true, what is true is that warm air holds more moisture than cold air.  As you saw in the previous section, moisture help prevent the flu and reduce symptoms of a cold.   Additionally, bodily natural defenses are less active in the cold.  The silica hairs in your nose, which trap germs, become less effective in cold temperatures.

4.  UV Lights

Did you know that UV lights used in HVAC systems have proven to reduce fungal growth?  It's true.  An NCBI study installed UV lights on certain floors of an office building and, as a control group, not on others.  The UV light floors had reduced fungal contamination in the air-handling units, in the fiberglass insulation, and reduced airborne fungi in the floor space.  

This year, Americans have already lost their lives to the flu.  To keep your home, apartment building, or office healthy - try these four tips for reducing flu and cold viruses with smart HVAC decisions.