Indoor air quality specifically refers to the air quality within and around both buildings and structures. It relates directly to the health and comfort of those working in or occupying the building; not only can poor indoor air quality have an immediate effect on employee comfort and wellbeing, but it can have lasting health effects.
There are a number of different sources of pollutants which can cause poor indoor air quality but some of the most common include; combustion appliances, tobacco products, building materials including asbestos containing insulation and newly installed carpets and flooring, cleaning products, heating and cooling systems such as air conditioning, excess moisture and outdoor sources which may have entered the indoor facility such as pesticides.
Maintaining a HVAC system is one of the ways you can improve your indoor air quality; it must be well-maintained to ensure that it is not a source of pollutant but instead a means to improving your indoor air quality. The objective of a HVAC system is to ensure that the indoor air is safe and comfortable for people, providing ventilation and temperature adjustments.
Health Effects of Poor Air Quality
The reaction to some pollutants can be instant and can include symptoms such as irritation of the eyes, nose and throat as well as headaches, dizziness and tiredness. These immediate effects are generally simple to treat and only last a short amount of time. Most of the time, simply eliminating exposure to the pollutant can treat the problem. Many of the short-term and immediate effects of exposure to a pollutant are simply to a cold or viral infection so it is important to be aware that these may be related to air quality instead. Pollutants can aggravate existing health conditions such as asthma.
Some of the effects of exposure to pollutants can appear years after the exposure occurred or after repeated exposure. These effects can appear in the form of more serious medical conditions such as respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer. These long-term effects may not be noticeable at the time of exposure therefore it highlights how essential it is to investigate indoor air quality at your facility and ensure you are partaking in all necessary maintenance and checks to improve air quality.
Impact of Air Quality on Wellbeing and Productivity
If employees aren’t in a comfortable environment, then they are more likely to be less productive. A HVAC system can help increase productivity by always keeping a cool and constant temperature and reducing humidity in a room.
HVAC systems such as air conditioning cannot only have a positive impact on people’s health, but also their mood. Installing an air conditioning system can result in increased intellectual activity and will make people feel at ease and comfortable at work.
Health & Safety
Poorly fitted HVAC systems are often associated with health problems, such as: throat irritation, dry skin and fatigue. However, when they are installed properly and well-maintained, they can have a positive impact on indoor air quality preventing health issues associated with indoor pollutants.
Why it is Important to Keep your HVAC Systems Maintained
It’s cost effective
Offices and other business premises require adapted HVAC systems; the most cost-effective way to maintain your air conditioning is through regular maintenance. General planned maintenance provides a lasting return on your investment and will keep your equipment running longer and more efficiently from season to season.
To ensure your employees wellbeing, it is important to have your HVAC systems regularly checked. Many common health risks that are related to poor air quality can be reduced with proper air conditioning maintenance and repair. We can help you compile an asset register for your business and agree the right level of maintenance required, get in touch with us today to discuss more.
It’s the law
Under European F Gas Regulations it states that all systems with an output greater than 3kg need to be annually inspected and checked for leaks and certified accordingly. In addition, regular energy inspections across air conditioning systems must be carried out in compliance with The Energy Performance of Building Regulations 2007.
The Importance of HVAC Compliance
There are a number of regulations that a business must comply with, all mandated under different directives. For example, The European Union’s F-gas Regulation states that every air conditioning system over 3kg must undertake a regular inspection programme. The regularity of this programme depends on the size of your system:
Over 3kg Refrigerant – 12 months
Over 30kg Refrigerant – 6 months
Over 300kgs Refrigerant – 3 months
Similarly, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive specifies that air conditioning systems, of 12kW or combine to make 12kW and above, must have a regular energy inspection programmes in place. These inspections not only give you compliance but also highlight any problems within your system, and any areas which may need improvement to reduce carbon emissions and lower energy costs.
There is also the R22 Phase Out, a legal directive that states that as of the 31st December 2014, it is against the law to use recycled R22 (a hydrochlorofluorocarbon which was commonly used in air conditioning systems). R22 is a potent greenhouse gas, so this legislation was introduced to reduce this harmful toxin. As a business, to understand your responsibilities about R22 contact MSL.
Whilst these regulations may seem extensive, they have been introduced to ensure that your business, staff and customers are safe. Mandatory inspections mean your systems are regularly examined and maintained, meaning that your workplace is safe, your equipment is less likely to encounter any issues / breakages, and your energy bills are lowered. MSL are able to assist you with ensuring your business is up to date with all compliance maintenance.
Air Conditioning Myth Busting
When it comes to keeping your business cool there are many hints and tips out there. However, it’s hard to know which ones to believe and which are just myths. Here are a few common misconceptions that many people have about air conditioning:
MYTH: To save money you should turn your air conditioning unit off when the building isn’t occupied.
FACT: If you turn off your unit then it has to work extra hard each time you turn it back on to get to your desired temperature setting. Instead, adjust the setting during the times that your office is unoccupied. A change of just 5 or 6 degrees will allow your unit to work less whilst you are away but will not cause it to overwork when you return.
MYTH: The air conditioning unit is running fine; maintenance is not needed.
FACT: Regardless of how well your unit seems to be performing, regular maintenance is essential. This will ensure that any issues that may be developing in the machine are caught early and fixed, thus eliminating any costly repairs later down the line. AC filters also need to be cleaned regularly as dust and dirt will start to accumulate, blocking the airflow and meaning that your unit has to work harder, using more energy and costing more money.
MYTH: Closing air vents in unused rooms will help the other parts of the building stay cooler.
FACT: Modern air conditioning units work throughout the entire building, so blocking off vents can upset this balance and cause your unit to work even harder. Air conditioners are also dehumidifiers, so need a flow of air to come in and out the building. Blocking off the vents will cause these rooms to become more humid which can lead to other problems, such as mould.
At MSL Property Care Services, our comprehensive maintenance programmes mean that we can design, carry out and manage your maintenance schedule ensuring that every aspect of your facility is compliant. Our highly skilled team have a full knowledge of UK health and safety legislation, meaning that you are in safe hands. Our maintenance management system also means you have a complete 360 view of all compliance maintenance task that is being completed, giving you total transparency of our work. Please call us on 0333 1234450 for more information.