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If Someone Is Isolating At Home With Coronavirus, Turn Off AC In Room And Install Separate Window Unit To Prevent Spreading

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- With the temperatures rising in the Pittsburgh area, many people are running air conditioning systems throughout their homes or rooms.

But how safe is that if coronavirus is in the air? Even if there is some risk, experts say the same thing about your air conditioning.

"Certainly in these times of hot summers, we don't want people turning off their air conditioning systems because heat stress will kill you faster than COVID-19," said Dr. David Krause, a certified industrial hygienist.

So when it is really hot, do not turn off the AC. But here's the reality.

air conditioner
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"Air conditioning systems do move aerosols around the home. And if someone in the home is ill with COVID-19, those can be spread throughout the entire residence," Dr. Krause said.

If someone is ill or suspected of having coronavirus, isolate them. Experts say to turn off the AC to that room and install a separate window unit or fan.

"Most of our home air conditioning systems do not bring in any outside air," said Penn State University professor Bill Bahnfleth.

There is no fresh air unless you open the windows. And it is likely that the air conditioning filter is not helping much, as filters are rated on something called the MERV system.

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"A typical home might only have a MERV 6 filter in it, which is a pretty low-efficiency filter," Bahnfleth said.

To safeguard against coronavirus, you need a MERV 13 or higher filter.

"Unfortunately, these filters are typically much thicker, offer more air resistance, and will not fit within a standard central air conditioning system," said Krause.

You may need to check out your air conditioning system to see if you have the best filter possible. And don't forget, experts say to open your windows for fresh air whenever you can.


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