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This Halloween, our engineers want to help you avoid a scare in your air ducts

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

While this Halloween might look a little different than others, the Tec Inc. team wants to make sure you don’t get any surprise scares from your heating and cooling systems.

Our mechanical engineers aren’t afraid of ghosts or providing HVAC insights, so instead of being spooked by the season, they’ve found a way to bust potential contaminants to your system.

Whether it’s monsters, mummies, or microbiotic particles that could cause a scare in your ventilation system, our engineers have the tools and skills needed to get rid of the problems.

Throughout the year, we’ve been sharing ideas from our team to help clients and customers find ways to ward off some of the scarier things that might be waiting in their ventilation systems.

Ahead of Halloween, we thought it might be a good idea to refresh our audience on some of the things that might be waiting in the dark.

UV Lighting can Scare off Some Harmful Particles

For years, healthcare facilities have used ultraviolet light as a method of air purification within HVAC systems. Ultraviolet lighting, often referred to as UV lighting, produces a strong enough emission to scare away the spooky molds and bacteria that enter the HVAC system over time.

This application is now being considered by more and more faculty types as an effective means to clean air.

A recent Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) committee report explained using emitting low- and medium-pressure mercury lamps, as well as pulsed xenon arc lamps. Studies have shown that these technologies—continuously emitting or pulsed—are comparably effective for disinfection."

Essentially, when applied in a given location, wavelengths in the photobiological ultraviolet spectral band known as the “UV-C,” from 200 to 280 nanometers (nm), have been effective for disinfection. UV-C can effectively inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus, responsible for COVID-19 (you can read in more detail about the technical aspects of this in the Illuminating Engineering Society report.

A study conducted by Duke University in 2012 showed that UV lights killed 97% of bacteria that were resistant to antibiotics, known as the hard-to-kill superbug bacteria.

The two types of UV lighting for HVAC system sanitation are coil sanitizing and air sanitizing lights.

In May, Tec Inc.'s Senior Electrical Engineer Brandon Sargent, PE, LEED AP BD+C explained the different types of UV lighting, how they're already being used by other industries and the benefits owners receive from the solution.

Moisture Build-Up Can give Owners Quite the Haunt

It does take not much water for mold and mildew (or sometimes worse and even scarier entities) to accumulate. Water can destroy a building from the inside out. Some design considerations to control the water helps maintain the longevity of the building.

One of these is controlling the dewpoint within walls. If the dew point is not controlled, condensation can occur within a wall or on glass, or even on the bottom of a roof deck.

The building's relative humidity should be held at levels that will not cause interior condensation. Occupied buildings have a window range that is represented in ASHRAE 55 on the psychometric chart for both temperature and humidity.

While used for occupant safety and comfort, other moisture maintenance issues should not be ignored, otherwise, owners might find themselves trying to hide from their haunt. This includes leaky pipes, cooling coil condensation pans, and leaky roofs.

Keeping an eye on your Ducts helps to Identify potential scares at the source

While some offices stayed open in a limited capacity, it’s recommended that any building experiencing short or long-term absences take the time to consider the functionality of their HVAC systems.

As much as possible, owners should keep their systems in constant circulation. This both mitigates the amount of build-up from a stationary system and keeps new, clean air flowing through spaces.

When social distancing and stay-at-home orders went into effect in March, many offices quickly shut down in-person operations, resulting in the shutdown of many HVAC systems.

Upon reopening, it’s wise for owners to seek commercial cleaning services to ensure their system is running smoothly, especially with so many members of our society rightfully concerned about the health standards of their space.

Air Quality Matters to Keep Harmful Particles from Hiding Where Yoy Least Expect it

In addition to taking measures to upgrade the interworkings of an HVAC system, considering the addition of one or more air purifiers to a space can be a noninvasive way to help promote air quality.

These impactful units start around $100 on the low end with premium options reaching the $600-plus mark, though a variety of options exist in between the two price points.

According to the Atlanta hub of the popular food blog Eater, a handful of restaurants in Georgia’s capital are already making changes to install high-grade air purification systems.

While keeping individuals at least six-to-eight feet apart is still a priority for these, getting creative with air purification methods now can save them from losses down the road caused by another illness-related shut-down.

Avoiding Scares and Surprises in Your Ducts this Halloween and for the Longrun

The calendar year 2020 has been full of twists and turns, tricks and treats, but at this point, most people could go with fewer surprises in their week.

One way to ensure a facility doesn't get another shock, in this case coming at the hands of their ductwork, is to work with an HVAC industry professional to find potential problems, coming up with solutions before they leave a haunting impact.

On our own team, John Milenius, PE, LEED AP is a veteran of the mechanical engineering field and HVAC industry. He's provided air conditioning and ventilation evaluations throughout his 30-plus year career, helping clients mitigate their fears.


Contributions from the Engineering Team at Tec Inc.

Executive Vice President

Tim Pool is known for his genuine desire to make Tec Inc. a great place to work. He regularly shares his knowledge with younger staff and walks the walk of an engineer who gives back to our industry and community. Now executive vice president and our director of engineering, Tim runs an internal committee at Tec Inc. dedicated to the future of design; one of our differentiators. Tim is not only passionate about engineering, he also understands the importance of developing meaningful relationships — a value we live by at Tec Inc.

Principal | Director of Mechanical Engineering

Recognized as a pragmatic and skilled expert in HVAC engineering and plumbing design, John focuses on making the most of project budgets and schedules for our clients. A skilled troubleshooter and proponent of increasing energy efficiency, John manages and leads our mechanical engineering staff at Tec. In addition, he is always looking to help future AEC professionals along the way.

Brandon Sargent, PE, LEED AP BD+C Project Manager | Associate

Brandon leads our Pittsburgh office with a friendly flair to his electrical engineering and lighting design expertise. He's often referred to as our office Boy Scout since he earned the Eagle Rank as a young man and is always prepared for any client question or project concern. He's also a leading lighting design expert in our firm and works in collaboration with award-winning lighting designers to provide electrical engineering coordination with drawings and proper power requirements.

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