As Georgia businesses continue to reopen, many employers are rightfully concerned about mitigating the spread of the Covid-19 virus. However, the reopening of these spaces may harbor other hidden dangers. According to recent CDC guidance, the temporary shutdown or reduced operation of a building for even a few days can create hazards for returning occupants. Georgia's high humidity, coupled with stagnant water in a building's HVAC and plumbing systems, can lead to the rapid growth of dangerous microbes like mold and Legionella (the cause of Legionnaires' disease). In order to combat these dangers, the CDC advises building owners to take the following steps when looking to reopen:
1. Maintain Low Humidity
The best way to prevent microbial growth during a temporary shutdown is to keep the indoor humidity as low as possible, not to exceed 50%
2. Know The Warning Signs
When returning to a space after a shutdown, look out for red flags like excess dampness or a musty odor.
3. Flush Out Your HVAC
If no mold is detected, building owners should run their HVAC for at least 48 to 72 hours with outdoor air dampers open to the maximum setting before occupants return. If a musty smell is detected, this may indicate the presence of mold. After the flush out period, HVAC filters should be carefully inspected and cleaned or replaced as necessary.
4. Check Your Systems Regularly
Once a space is reopened, the CDC recommends weekly checks of your HVAC system and air filters, gradually reducing in frequency over time. As always, indoor temperature and relative humidity should be kept within recommended ranges to ensure the continued safety of the space.
If you are a business owner looking to reopen, The AIR Company of Georgia is here to help! If you have any questions about the safety of your system, or would like to schedule a maintenance check, simply give us a call or schedule an appointment online!