Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems should not be modified without assessment and involvement by an appropriately qualified and experienced engineering professional. Appropriately designed and operated HVAC systems may have the ability reduce the airborne concentration of pathogens and microorganisms, and therefore lower the risk of transmission through the air. While research is ongoing, there is uncertainty about how COVID-19 is transmitted. The BC CDC should be consulted for up to date statements and guidance from health experts.
HVAC systems, or any engineered building systems, should not be modified without consultation with an appropriately experienced and qualified engineering professional. HVAC systems are technical and custom designed for the building and spaces that they serve; any system modifications done by a person who does not understand the system and how it affects other building systems could end up doing more harm than good and could negatively impact health & safety, air quality, building air pressure/balance, performance/operation of the HVAC equipment, etc.
Despite best intensions, examples of modifications that may negatively affect the performance of the HVAC and other building systems include:
- changing existing air filters for higher efficiency air filters;
- enclosing or partitioning rooms with temporary or permanent means;
- changing fan speeds, adding supply/exhaust fans;
- adding integrated filtration units;
- blocking diffusers, grilles or altering existing airflows; and
- altering the programming of system controls.
As such, alterations to HVAC or other building systems should only be done in consultation with an appropriately qualified and experienced engineering professional.
ASHRAE provides guidance on the design, operation, and maintenance of HVAC systems to help reduce the dangers of pathogen transmission through the air in these settings. Engineering professionals should consult the latest guidance from ASHRAE regarding COVID-19.