Can COVID live in your Ductwork?

Hi Tech Oct 2020 - Can COVID live in your Ductwork BLOG IMAGE

No one really knows yet if COVID-19 can live in your ductwork. But what we do know is that air and contaminants are regularly circulated through ductwork and through rooms in businesses and homes via their duct systems. 


If COVID enters your home, there is a chance it could continue to exist in your duct work and in your furnace system. Replacing furnace filters will help, but current filters are not meant to filter out small microbes like COVID-19. And even if it doesn’t linger inside the system itself, it can and will still be pumped out into other rooms in the home or building because that’s what ductwork and HVAC systems are designed to do. 


Currently, only about 20% of the air in your home is fresh air. The rest is air that is constantly recirculated through your duct system. If you could pump more fresh air in, this might help to reduce the chances of recirculating COVID in your home or business. But of course, in the cooler months, pumping in more fresh air is not practical. And many systems just aren’t built to do this anyway.

With a huge percentage of illnesses being affected by or transmitted through indoor air, what is the safe thing to do amidst a pandemic involving a brand new virus that we don’t know much about yet?


The answer, for now, could be to get as much fresh air as possible for as long as possible. And once the weather turns colder, schedule more frequent duct cleanings, especially in homes or businesses where we know there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 or where air circulation in general is poor due to the age of the building, system, or its particular configuration. A prime example is older school buildings, older homes, and medical facilities. 


This was on our minds when we stumbled upon a great interview on NPR’s Science Friday program a few weeks ago talking about this very subject. 


In this interview and a related article, Shelley Miller (a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Colorado Boulder) weighs in on COVID-19 transmission and indoor air: 


“The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. Once the virus escapes into the air inside a building, you have two options: bring in fresh air from outside or remove the virus from the air inside the building.”


To listen to the entire August 28, 2020 NPR Science Friday interview and access some really great resources on this topic, click here. 


And once you’re done listening, give us a call so we can schedule your next residential or commercial duct cleaning! (513)737-3200.

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