Do UV Lights In Your HVAC System Work To Purify Air?

August 3, 2023

This upgrade helps ensure that the air in your home is as healthy as it can be.

Keeping your HVAC system clean is one of the most effective ways to improve and protect the air quality of indoor spaces. An ultraviolet (UV) light can add a layer of protection to keep your indoor air as clean as possible. But do UV lights work? Do they purify the air?

What’s Going On?

The components of your HVAC system, like every other part of your home, get coated with dust and dirt over time. Pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold, attach themselves to these particles and get released into the air, which can endanger your health. 

Getting your HVAC system cleaned regularly, your ducts cleaned when needed, and ensuring that your filters are high-quality and clean are the first lines of defense against microorganisms, allergens, and other pathogens. 

But cleaning an HVAC system isn’t as simple as dusting the coffee table. It takes a pro to do it right. To add an extra layer of air filtration and protection, consider installing ultraviolet (UV) light.

How Do UV Lights Work?

UV lights bathe the coil and other components in your system with UVC rays to kill or disable viruses, bacteria, and other microbial health hazards. (These waves are shorter than the UVA and UVB rays that cause long-term skin damage and skin cancer.) 

According to an ASHRAE resource, by emitting ultraviolet radiation, “UV-C energy disrupts the DNA of a wide range of microorganisms, rendering them harmless (Brickner et al. 2003; CIE 2003).” “UVC lights,” NADCA notes, “have been proven to reduce the spread of bacteria like tuberculosis.”

To be clear, UV lights cannot filter the air on their own. But used in combination with the proper filter for your HVAC system and professional cleaning, they can add a layer of protection to your home by neutralizing microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and mold that can thrive in the dust and dirt that collect in your system over time.

What’s Next?

To make sure your indoor air is as clean as it can be, make sure you:

  • Have a professional install a UV light. NADCA notes that UV lights in HVAC systems “can be an effective means to reduce airborne pathogens, but only if lamps are properly and strategically installed in sufficient number and/or intensity, and are properly maintained.” Proper, strategic installation and maintenance are best done by the pros.
  • Get the highest-quality filter for your system and change or clean it regularly. A highly rated MERV filter or clean electrostatic reusable filter is key to indoor air quality.
  • Get your HVAC system and ducts cleaned on a schedule that your professional recommends. Periodic deep cleans by a pro will remove the dust and dirt that can hide pathogens. Programs like our maintenance programs make yearly cleanings simpler and more predictable.

See also the CDC’s recommendations regarding UV lights in HVAC systems.

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