Can Your Furnace Filter Help in the Fight Against COVID-19? - Plumbing Paramedics - Expert Plumbers Calgary - Featured Image
Published On: 15 May 2020Categories: Latest News

We’re always telling Calgarians to remember to change their furnace filter on time. Filters are important for keeping dust out the delicate parts of your furnace and for preventing allergens and debris from circulating the air in your home. In fact, the majority of furnace failures are caused by a neglected furnace filter. One thing changing your furnace filter can’t do, though, is stop the spread of COVID-19. Or, can it?

High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters are hospital-grade air filters. Considered the gold standard of filters, HEPA filters are denser and finer than a typical residential furnace filter. As the best filter currently available, HEPA filters have been the subject of much research, including studies by NASA. According to a paper from NASA, HEPA filters reliably trap any particles 0.01 microns (10 nanometers) and above. For comparison sake, a width of single human hair is around 300 times larger than that. 

The COVID-19 virus is about 0.125 microns, falling comfortably within the range of particles caught by a HEPA filter. In fact, the N95 face mask used by many health workers utilizes a very similar filtration technology to the HEPA filter. Because of this powerful filter ability, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that HEPA filtration systems should be used in any area where infected patients are treated. With so many mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 — that means that many Calgarians should be considering installing a HEPA filter at home. As we care for our sick loved ones, a HEPA filter is one of the best tools for preventing others in the household from getting sick.

However, it’s important to note that the HEPA filter will only really be helpful in residential homes if COVID-19 is an airborne virus. Right now, it’s too early to really know whether or not the virus is airborne. What we can say is that Harvey V. Fineberg of the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats wrote, “Currently available research supports the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalation.” If this is true, then a HEPA filter will be protective of those living in the same household as someone who is sick.

Unfortunately, most residential furnaces can’t handle a HEPA filter. Because these filters are so dense, your furnace can’t create enough pressure to force air through it. That means you can’t just upgrade your furnace filter to a HEPA filter. However, if you still want to benefit from HEPA, you’ll have a couple choices. You could either upgrade your central HVAC system, or you could install a separate, portable HEPA filtration system.

One thing we want to make clear is that a HEPA filtration system is not a solution for not having social distance. Choosing to install a HEPA filter is adding another tool in your fight against COVID-19 — not replacing the need for social distance and washing hands. The number of healthcare workers who have contracted coronavirus is a clear indicator that even with the best safety equipment and health practices, we can still fall victim to this virus. 

During these challenging times, we want all Albertans to remember that we are all in this fight together. We want to thank everyone — from health care workers and other essential service workers to those Calgarians who are staying home and self isolating — for caring about our community and helping to protect our most vulnerable residents. Like you, we are devastated to hear about the deaths in our community. 

Our Calgary furnace technicians and plumbers will continue serving Calgary during these difficult months for as long as we are allowed. So whether you need help with a plumbing emergency or need to install a HEPA filter to help you protect yourself as you care for a sick loved one, we’re here for you. Call us today.

Call us at (403) 452-2911 or Book Now an appointment.

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