May 29, 2020
3 Reasons to Keep HVAC Running During COVID-19
by Matt Kunkel
It is obvious that empty buildings need less heating and cooling than occupied ones. Many buildings around the world have been empty/unoccupied for weeks due to COVID-19. You may save a little money switching off the HVAC in an unoccupied building, but it is a terrible decision in the long-run. Most people may think that the only purpose of HVAC systems is for human comfort, however, this is very wrong. HVAC systems are meant for protecting your building and the equipment inside the building from damage.
A building that turns off HVAC for long periods of time results in uncontrolled humidity. Uncontrolled humidity can damage the building and end up being very expensive, and will need many repairs. These repairs and damage will result in delays of normal operation, since the building and equipment will have to be fixed. So even after all stay-at-home orders are retracted, you still won’t be able to get into your building. Below are three reasons to keep your HVAC running during this global pandemic.
1. Bacteria/Fungi Issues
When HVAC systems are turned off, this will lead to high humidity inside your building. Mold, bacteria and fungi stem from high humidity. Having this in your building can be very dangerous, and sometimes even fatal. It is imperative to keep your building from high humidity levels.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning (ASHRAE) recommend to keep a relative humidity of 40%-60% for building interiors. With a humidity range of %40-%60, this minimizes the reproduction and spread of viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
2. Deterioration of HVAC Components When Inactive
If HVAC systems are turned off, it can leave a very negative impact on the service life of many components and equipment. When the HVAC equipment has been inactive for a long period of time, the equipment may fail without warning.
Issues are detected more easily when the HVAC equipment is running, because there are warning signs such as unusual noises and vibrations. When the systems are turned off, you will have no warning signs of issues. Other issues of inactive equipment include the rusting of piping due to stagnant water, and motor equipment becoming jammed if the bearings accumulate rust.
3. Data Center Functionality
Data centers are used by most buildings to be able to operate different types of applications. Most of these applications run 24/7, especially when your clients/customers are in different time zones. Also, a good majority of companies are using a virtual private network (VPN) to access company files.
The VPN extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send/receive data across shared or public networks, as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. In order for the VPN to work, the data center hosting the information and applications must stay on, or the work will be disrupted.
Data centers and servers produce an immense amount of heat, which is why they need permanent air-conditioning. If data centers are operating without air-conditioning, this can lead to serious issues. Best case scenario is the servers will shut down automatically to prevent overheating. Worst case scenario is the expensive equipment will be damaged by heat, leading to purchasing new, expensive equipment.
When it comes down to it, HVAC systems need to operate for a business to be able to operate. If you keep your HVAC systems off during COVID-19, they will deteriorate, cause bacteria/fungi, and could ruin your expensive IT equipment. The best move is to keep your HVAC systems running even in an unoccupied building. This will save a lot of money in the long run, it is better and cheaper to protect your equipment during the pandemic, rather than dealing with unplanned repairs/delays in the future.