With bars, restaurants, and other eateries slowly reopening this fall, there’s a big focus on health — and, by extension, indoor air quality. Businesses in York, PA want to stay open, and they don’t want their customers getting sick. And, a huge factor in this will be fresh air.
Fresh air is why we could have outdoor seating before moving indoors and to limited capacity. It’s because the air outside is just about always cleaner than the air inside. The simplified explanation is because all sorts of contaminants get swept away instead of building up.
But, of course, we can’t have indoor dining year-round. And, we need to get back to full capacity. So, the next step is making sure your bar or restaurant has the “cleanest air on the block.”
And, unfortunately, running your heating or cooling system won’t automatically make things better. In fact, it could make the air quality worse.
The problem is that HVAC systems don’t cycle in air from outside. Instead, it treats the air that’s already inside. Ductless systems keep the air in the same room. A traditional ductwork system moves that air from one part of the building to another.
Fortunately, there are ways to get “new” air into the building or clean what you already have inside. In this article, we’ll focus on getting fresh air inside — the closest you can get to the outdoors year-round. Then, we’ll look at some other options.
How An ERV Brings Fresh Air Inside All The Time
An energy recovery ventilator, or ERV, can pump fresh air into your building all year’ round without losing your heating or cooling. It’s like having all the windows open but without the heat or AC escaping. That feature makes these especially useful for buildings with windows that don’t open.
The ERV itself is a small box-like appliance that we attach near your heater. Then, from there, we install specialized piping that connects to the unit. This is what brings the fresh air in and sends the stale air outside.
The key to this working is a heat transfer system that works one way in warm weather and in reverse when it’s cold out. We’ll break down both.
In the summer, you’re running the air conditioning. That means the air inside is much, much cooler than the outdoors. The ERV brings in a stream of warm, humid air through the piping. At the time, another set of piping is drawing out the cooled air.
When both streams hit the unit, the ERV transfers the heat from the incoming stream to the outgoing stream. That warms up the air going out and removes the thermal energy from the stream going in. Meaning: Now, the incoming air is cold!
Finally, this unit offers another round of dehumidification in addition to the work your air conditioner does already. It prevents extra moisture from getting into your building.
The winter process is a little simpler. First of all, everything goes in reverse: Cold air coming in, warm air heading out. The heat transfer just goes the other way. Now, the ERV takes the warmth from the stream going out and moves it over to the stream coming in.
When the air coming from inside gets out, it’s now cold. All the heat your furnace generated gets transferred to the incoming stream.
In this case, there’s no dehumidification necessary. Cold air is naturally drier than warm air. You may need to add moisture in the winter, but that’s another topic.
More Ways to Keep Your Air Clean
An ERV is the closest you can get to the cleansing power of fresh outdoor air. But, if that’s not an option for your building, your heating and cooling system can still improve your indoor air quality.
Here are two more ways to do that — and you can use these instead of or along with an energy recovery ventilator.
Upgrade Your Air Filters
The easiest thing to do is to start using stronger air filters. Your standard screens do an excellent job of preventing dust and dirt from circulating through your bar or restaurant, but that’s about it.
As you upgrade to better filters, you can catch more particles. The strongest ones can trap contaminants as small as mold spores, bacteria, and yes — viruses.
You can tell the strength of the filter by its MERV rating. The higher the number, the smaller particles it will trap. But, you can’t just go for the high score and call it a day. Instead, you need to take air resistance into account.
No matter the rating, any filter will also make it harder for air to flow through it. The stronger you go, the more resistance it creates. Eventually, a high enough rating will prevent your heating and cooling system from working correctly.
So, you need to know how strong you can go with your particular system. Commercial systems are generally more powerful than residential ones, but you can still do some severe damage if your filter is too strong. At the least, your clientele will be uncomfortable without enough treatment.
Fortunately, all you have to do is speak with whoever handles your HVAC service. Let them know what you’re looking to do, and they’ll help you find the strongest filter you can use.
Air Purification Systems
Finally, you can invest in an air purification system that treats your whole building. You have, of course, seen purifiers that you plug into the wall, so it treats the room where it’s located. We’re talking about models that attach right to the heating and cooling system to handle the entire space.
These models use those filters that are way too strong for your system if you used them on their own. But, they come with a blower so that they make up for the air resistance. This feature means you’re now trapping tiny, microscopic pathogens.
Next, they’ll use UV or UV-C light within the system. The light periodically flashes on and around the filter to eradicate anything that’s trapped there.
HVAC Service in York, PA
As you can see, you have a lot of options when it comes to indoor air quality for your bar or restaurant in York, PA. But how do you know which is right for you? At Air Comfort, our HVAC service pros will help you design a customized system that’s just right for your building.
Call or email us today for a free consultation!