HVAC System Repair and Maintenance Crucial after Hurricane Flooding  

For the first time in recorded history, the U.S. was slammed with back-to-back Category 4 hurricanes — Harvey and Irma — from the Atlantic. Many people in Texas and Florida continue to battle and hopefully recover from flooded streets, scattered debris, damaged homes, and inoperable buildings. The economic costs associated with this tag team of natural disasters in the U.S. are expected to be $290 billion.  

Mold and HVAC Systems

Part of that recovery process will be to assess the extent of the water damage. In the hot and humid climates of Texas and Florida mold growth is the biggest concern.

Mold and mildew pose real threats to flooded buildings. The stagnant standing water presents the perfect environment for bacteria growth, making any porous materials susceptible.

Typically, mold grows on floors and walls, but flooded HVAC systems can also pose a real health threat if mold is allowed to grow. Ductwork and insulation that has mold growth can pose a health threat to the entire building if the HVAC system is running because mold spores can be carried through ducts and distributed throughout the building.

HVAC System Cleaning

Proper cleaning of HVAC systems after a flood is imperative to the health of building occupants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you remove all flood-contaminated insulation and materials associated with the HVAC system and discard them.

Then you should clean the interior of the flooded system with a HEPA vacuum to remove the dirt and debris as well as microorganisms that typical industrial vacuums may not be able to pick up. After the HVAC system is cleaned it also needs to be thoroughly disinfected to prevent the growth of bacteria and microorganisms.

The aftermaths of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma will likely be felt for years while communities work to clean up and rebuild their homes and businesses. Prioritizing HVAC system cleaning is imperative to protect the health of building occupants during this time. Using a good HEPA vacuum to get rid of spores and a mold controlling cleaner are good ways to stop bacteria from growing and recurring.

Check out these other resources for information on HVAC mold prevention and cleaning:

  1. Effective Industrial Mold Control: A Three Step Process
  2. Controlling Mold: An HVAC Professional’s Guide
  3. How to Rid Your AC of Mold
  4. Mold Clean Up After Floods
  5. How to Protect an HVAC Unit from Flood Water

OSHA To Enforce New Standard Next to Reduce Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica

Construction work has always posed a risk to employee health but exposure to dust from concrete and stone has such severe risks that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has passed a new mandate for employers. With the increase in instances of lung cancer, silicosis, kidney disease, and COPD on job sites due to prolonged exposure to respirable crystalline silica from concrete and stone, OSHA has issued a final rule that aims to protect workers and save employers money on healthcare costs. They will enforce this new standard on September 23, 2017.

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Goodway’s Ray Field and CDC’s Nancy Messonnier, MD on How Your Facility can Best Prevent Legionella Outbreaks

It’s likely that most facility managers in New York City have already heard the news this week about a police officer infected with Legionnaire Disease (LD). A poorly maintained water supply system at his police station was the likely source for a widespread disease that’s seen a quadrupling of reported cases in the last 15 years.

Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks Trending Up

As the summer heat begins to put a strain on facility cooling towers, more facility-triggered outbreaks are likely to follow. According to Ray Field, Director of Goodway Liquid Solutions, the upward trend in outbreaks will likely continue over the next few years as sub-standard maintenance practices, the wrong maintenance tools and shrinking maintenance budgets continue to hamper progress.  In a related podcast entitled Legionella Outbreaks: Preventive Maintenance Practices and Chemical Solutions to Minimize Risk of Occurrence, Ray discusses the challenges facility managers face when battling the resilient bacteria.

“What it comes down to is good industrial hygienic practices,” Field says. “And if you look at cooling towers, in my estimation, they can be neglected in terms of care or maintenance up front when they’re started, in terms of washing them down, getting rid of scale accumulation in the tower fill that causes the air/water intimate contact that causes the cooling with the fan. Both chemical and mechanical solutions are really the best way to approach it, followed by a well-maintained water treatment program.” This is consistent with statements in the recent American National Standards Institute approved ASHRAE Standard 188 – 2015 entitled “Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.”

Just recently, the CDC arrived at a similar conclusion after analyzing 2,809 confirmed LD cases reported from 20 states and NYC. The report summarized that the number one way for facility managers to mitigate LD risk is to better manage and maintain the building’s water supply system. The study also revealed that roughly 80% of LD outbreaks in facilities were preventable and healthcare facilities in particular were more susceptible due, in part, to their more vulnerable populations and more complex water supply systems.

Here are three additional takeaways from the study:

• Legionella grows well in building water systems that are not adequately managed such as those in which disinfectant levels are low or water temperatures are warm.
• The size and complexity of the facility’s water system may increase the risk for Legionella growth.
• Effective water management and maintenance programs are highly recommended to prevent Legionella growth in buildings with large or complex water systems.

Facility Water System Components Susceptible to Legionella Growth

Legionella can grow in parts of building water systems that are continually wet, and certain devices can spread contaminated water droplets via aerosolization. Examples of these system equipment, components and devices include:

  • Cooling towers
  • Hot and cold water storage tanks
  • Water heaters
  • Water-hammer arrestors
  • Pipes, valves, and fittings
  • Expansion tanks
  • Water filters
  • Electronic and manual faucets
  • Aerators
  • Faucet flow restrictors
  • Shower heads and hoses
  • Centrally-installed misters, atomizers, air washers, and humidifiers
  • Non-steam aerosol-generating humidifiers
  • Eyewash stations
  • Ice machines
  • Hot tubs/saunas
  • Decorative fountains

How to Implement a Water Supply Management and Maintenance Program

To help facility managers and building owners prevent future outbreaks, the CDC also prepared a comprehensive thirty-six page water supply management guide to implementing industry standards. Facility managers who have previously implemented a risk management system will be familiar with its structure and the recommended stages:

  • Describe your building, its use and occupants, the plumbing and water handling equipment, with special attention to dead-legs or low flow areas, and outlets that form droplets
  • Analyze your water system to identify points where Legionella might grow due to suitable temperatures, or post-heating destruction of disinfectant, increased contaminants or other factors.

Here’s a helpful building water supply system flow diagram provided in the guide:

Working Smarter and OutSmarting Bacteria

Cooling tower and other equipment susceptible to bacteria growth (hot tubs, showers, fountains, air conditioning) may require a complete shut-down that takes time, inconveniences patrons and costs money.  However, “clean-in-place” (CIP) maintenance solutions may drastically decrease the time, labor and burden of maintaining a water supply management program. For example, with the Goodway Cooling Tower Vacuum there’s no need to drain the tower – you can clean it while the tower is still online. Cooling demand is not interrupted, nor is the comfort of occupants. CIP solutions are typically more efficient and effective when compared to non-CIP solutions. For example, Goodway’s TFC-200 Cooling Tower Fill Cleaner used with a ScaleBreak Gel Descaler begins dissolving scale and grime from cooling tower fill on contact. This low viscosity acidic product is formulated specifically to adhere to and descale mineral deposits from cooling tower fill.

Final Thoughts: Clean Upfront

Whether a facility manager is in charge of an enormous water supply system or a modest system, cleaning up front takes priority over establishing a water supply program. In other words, basic preventive maintenance (PM) as equipment comes online for the first time or back online for the season must be your first step. That means using vacuums, pressure washers and the proper chemicals to safely and effectively remove scale.

Remember, your upfront PM should consider chemical and mechanical solutions that minimize labor costs and maximize effectiveness. Only then do you follow up with a well-maintained, measurable water management and treatment program. 

Next Steps:

 

How a Plant Manager’s HVAC Problems Can Spark Product Innovation

If you’re a plant operations or maintenance manager, then you’re inherently a problem solver too. So when a big problem comes along, it’s tempting to feel as if you have to figure it out on your own.

This type of problem solving can be a relatively slow and stressful process when the equipment at risk is worth millions of dollars, and a trial and error approach is unacceptable. That’s where expanding your knowledge base and knowing who to trust becomes invaluable.

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No Te Olvides: Goodway at AHR Expo Mexico

gtc_ahr_mexico

We came. We saw. We introduced over 10,879 HVAC&R industry professionals to some of the most advanced tube cleaners, cooling tower cleaning systems and coil cleaners that Goodway has to offer in Latin America, at this year’s AHR Expo Mexico. Thanks to everyone who stopped by booth 912 to witness what Goodway has to offer for easier, faster and more effective HVAC maintenance cleaning.

Stay tuned for 2018 AHR Expo Mexico in Mexico City, and for more information on Goodway’s innovative maintenance solutions, clic aqui.

 

 

Bad Air in the Big Apple? “Unusual” Legionnaires Outbreak Hits New York City

Legionnaires Disease HVAC Cooling Tower

Odds are New York City has seen better summers. In addition to the sweltering weather, NYC is now dealing with a Legionnaires outbreak in the Bronx that’s infected over fifty people and killed four. Right now the city is searching for answers about origin and impact, while many citizens are left wondering just what kind of risk they face.

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How to Avoid Industrial Vacuum Explosions

How to Avoid Industrial Vacuum ExplosionsAre vacuums in your facility at risk of exploding? For most companies, the answer is a firm “no”. But here’s the problem: It only takes a single outlier to turn your shop floor into something resembling a war zone.

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Data Center Cooling Market on the Rise, But Comes with Hidden Dangers

Data Center Cooling Market on the Rise, But Comes with Hidden DangersData center cooling is big business: according to a recent report by Mordor Intelligence, LLP, this market is set to grow at a CAGR of 12.50 percent from 2014 through 2019. But along with this increase is a hidden danger: dirt. Even the coolest building in the world can’t achieve maximum performance if servers or cooling units are contaminated. How do companies combat the problem of dirty data centers?

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HEPA, HEPA, Hooray – Your Guide to Industrial Vacuum Applications

High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are now typical components of both residential and industrial vacuums. Unfortunately, not all HEPA filters are worth celebrating – poor manufacturing or improper use can lead to all manner of micron matter madness.

iStock_000032863646SmallHere’s what you need to know when it comes to choosing HEPA vacs for industrial use.

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Bed Bugs Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple

They’re baaaaack . . . 

It’s official: bed bugs have moved in and made themselves at home in the Pacific Investment Management Company’s (PIMCO) New York office.

Baby bedbugHundreds of employees have been evacuated from the building, with many worried they might carry the blood-sucking pests home to friends and family, according to Fox Business.

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