Mechanical systems and plumbing systems are critical components of a building’s infrastructure. Ensuring that medical facilities of all sizes have healthy buildings has benefits for the patients and staff. It provides better recovery outcomes, lowers the risk of infections, and creates a better working environment. Poor indoor air quality, in particular, has been shown to contribute to long term health related issues. Those with pre-existing health conditions are at greater risk. Here are some ways in which the mechanical and plumbing systems can impact the health of a facility.
One of the key mechanical systems in a building is the HVAC. Fans, ducts, pumps, piping, chillers, cooling towers, evaporator, condenser, and thermostats are all parts of the heating, ventilation, and cooling system. Important functions of the HVAC system include ventilation, temperature control, and humidity control.
Ventilation – Air quality control is maintained through a properly functioning ventilation system. Poorly ventilated spaces contribute to respiratory problems and other illnesses. Regularly changing the air filters can help significantly. Particulate air filters that are designed to capture particles of various sizes can remove a majority of larger particles. HEPA filters can remove many of the smaller particles. Activated carbon filters remove harmful gasses and vapors. These types of filters help make the indoor air healthier for all.
Temperature control – This is essential in healthcare facilities. A quality HVAC system, with temperature sensors and alerts, can help maintain comfortable temperatures throughout the facility. Bacteria can thrive when temperatures are too warm. The comfort of patients, particularly children and the elderly, is an important consideration. Programmable thermostats allow building managers to pinpoint locations and customize the temperature flow to different parts of the building. They also help reduce energy costs.
Humidity control – Humidity is another important factor in bacteria and disease spread. Air conditioning takes humidity out of the air and prevents condensation from forming on surfaces. Condensation can lead to cross contamination of sterile surfaces and equipment. High humidity levels can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. HVAC systems regulate humidity inside buildings. The evaporator coil condenses water vapor from the air. The moisture then goes to a drain which moves it outside the building. An HVAC system that is old or not functioning properly may not be adequately removing moisture from the air.
Regular plumbing inspections and preventative maintenance keep a facility’s plumbing in good working order. Large facilities have complex plumbing systems that often make it hard to track down problems such as clogged drains. Bacteria can thrive under these conditions. Aging pipes and fixtures should be replaced to prevent water leaks. Leakage presents a slip and fall hazard, may cause structural and foundation issues, and contributes to mold growth.
A particular concern in healthcare facilities is reducing stagnant water in the plumbing systems. Hospitals are concerned because of the association of stagnant water and Legionnaires’ disease, a lung infection that is fatal for some people. Plumbing fixtures that prevent water stagnation are available. Examples include designs that minimize splashing and faucets that turn on and off automatically to get rid of stagnant water after no activation is detected for twelve hours.
Trust McKenney’s for HVAC and plumbing system needs.
McKenney’s enables healthcare facilities to proactively manage their HVAC and control systems to enhance performance and minimize downtime. We provide needed solutions including preventative maintenance, repairs, chiller rebuilds, and system retrofits.
Lingering drain and sewer line issues can become costly problems. McKenney’s commercial plumbing team delivers fast, responsive service for our healthcare clients. Our plumbers are factory trained to work on equipment from all major manufacturers. Contact us today.