MACC News: Fighting COVID-19: MACC Contractors Speak Out on Improving Indoor Air Quality

Fighting COVID-19: MACC Contractors Speak Out on Improving Indoor Air Quality

MACC Contractors report that maintaining optimum Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is a vital defense against COVID-19 and other airborne viruses.  Since the outbreak of the pandemic, our members have spent a great deal of time researching the most effective technologies and techniques to help customers improve their overall Indoor Air Quality.

Read on and listen to the experiences of Jimmy Moyen, James Padavan, Steve Palone, Scott Berger and Sean Libby, who report on the various ways they are helping customers defend against COVID-19 and other airborne viruses.

“While our residential customers are focused more on emergencies, our commercial customers are geared toward Air Quality and ask us about the ways we can help them in mitigating Covid-19.” - Jimmy Moyen, First Choice Mechanical

“The two key options we recommend to our customers are MERV-13 filtering and UVC lighting. We have been working with commercial customers that include restaurants, movie theaters, and health care providers such as dentists and dermatologists with these technologies.

“The challenge we face is that everyone wants a guarantee. While UVC lighting helps purify the air and kills many diseases, and high efficiency air filters -- HEPA filters – have been shown to help reduce the presence of Covid-19 in the air (as per Governor Cuomo’s recent press conference) you simply can’t guarantee these precautions will prevent the disease.  

“Social distancing, frequent hand washing and other preventative protocols like wearing masks are the absolute best way to prevent contamination. Wearing a mask is crucial – clients are demanding it and ask us ahead of time if our technicians will be wearing a mask on the job.”

“We have always provided Indoor Air Quality solutions for our residential customers.  Since the pandemic, we are now offering a number of additional options.” - James Padavan, Air Design Inc.

“We have taken some time to learn what is available in terms of technology and techniques and have been providing our commercial customers options for improved air filtration. Ionization type products such as the iwave or photohydoionization are among these technologies. We have been researching HEPA filtration and air scrubbing systems for our larger commercial customers such as schools, churches and large offices.

 “We do make a point of letting customers know that these systems, along with improved filtration, may help reduce the spread of the virus, but these products are not guaranteed to eradicate the virus. They simply reduce their presence in the air.  It is important to limit your liability during these times … and keep the customers well informed.
“Customer are also more aware of what’s available and have been self- educating so it makes the sale of certain products easier. The toughest part of this, however, is debunking the myths customers come in contact with from doing research on the internet. We explain to them that not every option they see may be best for their application.”

“Our customers are very concerned about their overall Indoor Air Quality, especially in offices that have 5+ employees who are all worried about coming back into Manhattan.” - Steve Palone, Palone Brothers Air Conditioning Corp. 

“Requests from our customers are ranging from HVAC systems set to maximize outside air intake (as recommended by ASHRAE) … cleaning and disinfecting of coils and air inlet chambers … air filters upgraded to the allowable filtration specifications … and UV lights installed in the ductwork. 

“We are not installing HEPA filters as their static pressure is out of the design range of most previously installed systems.  Typically, a system would have to be designed from the start to have HEPA filters.  We have been suggesting and installing a variety of MERV filters.

“We have been using disinfectant sprays for coils and air inlet chambers. Many of our customers are requesting UVC lights but the problem here is stock issues and limited availability.  We have been suggesting special products that use a combination of UVC light and special chemical reactions to bind particles together, similar to ionization.”

“While there is no one universal solution addressing the role HVAC systems play in mitigating  COVID-19, nor is there any definitive proof that the virus can be transmitted through HVAC systems, we believe a holistic approach encompassing proper personal hygiene as recommended by the CDC along with other mitigation strategies and technologies can help provide the safest indoor air quality possible.” - Scott Berger, Arista Air Conditioning

“We have customers ask about installing air cleaning products such as photocatalytic oxidation units and ionizers  that produce Hydro-Peroxide plasma that have been proven to be effective in reducing odors, air pollutants, VOCs (Chemical Odors), smoke, mold, bacteria, and viruses. These units can be placed within the air distribution system at relatively low cost and are effective in creating an overall healthier indoor climate. 

“Recent research has also shown that increasing indoor humidity levels can help to mitigate the virus. During the winter months when spaces are closed and heated, humidity levels tend to drop to low levels (between 20 and 40 percent). Unfortunately, those are the ideal conditions for the COVID-19 virus to thrive and remain viable for longer periods.

“Some of our customers have also asked us to clean and sanitize system components prior to starting their air conditioning systems. There is certainly a benefit to cleaning condenser coils (which is normally done during a PM visit) yet cleaning and sanitizing indoor components such as evaporator coils and blower sections is another strategy towards creating a healthier indoor environment.  And of course the added benefit of a clean system is that it operates more efficiently, consumes less energy, and reduces downtime.

For detailed information on these mitigation tactics presented by Arista, as well as the company’s overview on the  benefits and limitations of high efficiency HVAC filters and ultraviolet light, we suggest you go to for an outstanding blog on COVID-19 & Your HVAC System.

“Over the past months, we have been hyper-focused on providing our customers with Indoor Air Quality Products and Techniques that fit their equipment and building’s needs. In April we implemented an Evaporator Coil sanitization cleaning for all Maintenance Agreement Customers. Any customer that had maintenance done previously, we circled back and performed that service at no additional charge. We now include a spring and summer coil sanitization on all maintenance contracts going forward.”  - Sean Libby, The TurboChyll Company

At TurboChyll,  we have found several technologies that are very effective.  One that we have found to be of particular note is Needle Point Ionization by I-wave Air. This manufacturer has created a product that produces no by-products such as ozone or formaldehydes. We had found many of the ionization products create these bad by-products which is a big turn off for us, as we wouldn’t want to give customers a product, we don’t feel comfortable having ourselves. We believe the I-wave-Air products are the best ionization product to add to the Indoor Air Quality arsenal.

We believe that Indoor Air Quality is not totally dependent on a particular technology, but it also depends on cleaning techniques. Maintaining routine filter changes or increased filter changes, cleaning of the evaporator coils more often, sanitizing the interior of the air conditioning system, scheduling the air handler to run in fan operation 24/7 to maintain a constant air flow – are all essential to optimum air quality.

“Today our society is facing a pandemic that is putting current HVAC systems to the test,” concludes Sean Libby.  “ IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) has a whole new meaning as of now.  It may be used to combat viruses and build confidence in everyone’s mind as America is reopening.  There are technologies that have been available to us that never before seemed as necessary, but now may be considered as standard.  Modern HVAC systems have the capability to hunt down and destroy virus molecules, VOC’s and airborne particles and provide cleaner indoor environments.”

All of us at MACC extend a big THANK YOU to Jimmy, James, Steve, Scott, and Sean for their insight and experiences during these unprecedented times.

Featured in MACC News Summer 2020 Volume 2