The Role of Air Handling Units in Hospitals

Air handling units are devices which are used on commercial and private buildings to circulated air around the buildings ventilation system. It works by taking in the fresh air and treating it, whether that be to change the temperature of the air or to clean it.

The unit consists of different components ranging from heating and cooling elements, filtration racks, dampers and fans. Each element working together to provide clean air to the ductwork to supply clean treated air to designated areas of the building.

The air handling unit doesn’t just bring in fresh air from the outside, but it can also recirculate air that has already passed through the unit, more commonly known as recirc air. The air handling unit introduces the recirc air to fresh air and pushing it back through the system. This process helps to limit the amount of air conditioning that is needed within the building.

What’s is the use in a hospital environment?

In a hospital, the air handling unit is responsible for ensuring that the air coming into the hospital is cleaned and purified. This is done by pushing the air through different layers of filtration, this is to remove natural and manmade substance particles such as air pollution, dust, soil, smoke and toxins produced by the local environment inclusive of petrol and diesel emissions. This system helps the hospital to treat the patients who’ve been admitted because it reduces the risk of them contracting other illnesses while they are trying to recover.

Similar to how the ventilation systems work, the air handling unit is there to reduce the cross-contamination of the air supply around the hospital. It controls which way the air is directed through the building, making sure that the air is moved through clean areas and then on to the contaminated areas.

What happens if they aren’t properly maintained?

Within the air handling unit, if it isn’t cleaned properly, with regular filter changes and good maintenance, dirt and debris can build up on the inside of the temperature coil, various chambers, damper blades, fan blades and the internal structure of the unit. If this isn’t cleaned properly then it can be dispersed around the building through the ventilation system. With the air handling unit, it’s not only the dirt and debris which can affect the function of the unit. Condensation poses a risk, where this is always present in the unit, it can also cause corrosion on the floor or drip trays. To prevent this from happening, a coating can be added to the area’s that are exposed to the condensation, this can avoid having to replace the whole unit.



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