Differential Air Pressure in Healthcare Facilities Is an Intricate Balance

When you walk into a healthcare facility, whether it be a hospital, outpatient facility, or even a nursing home, air quality isn’t the first thing to pop into your head; in fact, you probably don’t think about it at all. Yet, air plays an integral part in any facility. Without clean air, an entire healthcare facility could be exposed to any number of airborne bacteria. Hence the need for correct air pressure, to keep clean air circulating for the health of everyone who enters a facility.

Healthcare facilities are unique environments. Air pressure is an intricate balance of positive and negative pressures. Differential pressure is a perfect example. Not only do you have to monitor the air in a room, but also how it interacts with air outside of said room. It’s a never-ending cycle of how to best monitor the entire facility while keeping each section or room up to date with its own code requirements.

Take an isolation room, for example. Engineers’ (ASHRAE’s) Standard 170, Ventilation of Health Care Facilities, which is integrated into the Facility Guidelines Institute’s Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities, requires each isolation room to have a permanently installed visual device or mechanism to constantly monitor the air pressure differential of the room when occupied by a patient who requires isolation. The most reliable way to monitor room pressure is with the use of an electronic pressure monitor. When properly selected and installed, an electronic room-pressure monitor can provide continuous confirmation of the required pressure differential across the room boundary.

In addition to providing a continuous readout of pressure differential, the control panel should include both audible and visual alarms to warn staff when room pressurization is lost. The alarm should sound when the measured room pressurization is below the alarm setpoint. For example, in a room designed to maintain a pressure differential of minus 0.03-inch WC, the alarm could be programmed to activate when the pressure differential falls to minus 0.01-inch WC. The control panel also should have a programmable, built-in time delay to minimize nuisance alarms. The time delay should be set to allow staff sufficient time to routinely enter and leave the room, and typically is set between 30 and 45 seconds.

Correct differential air pressure is not an easy thing to achieve, yet when you utilize the correct systems and controls, the implementation of these very things can be a breeze.  What contractors and installers need to keep in mind are cost effectiveness and sustainability of systems when installing these systems. From sensors to switches, monitors and dampers, they all play an integral part. By doing this, they are able to combat high costs and create air systems that don’t overtax facilities. When you invest in these parts, you could potentially be saving lives while simultaneously providing clean, bacteria-free air. Implementing these parts should be a no-brainer.

This is where Kele comes in. We partner with the industry’s best suppliers to provide the best products; in this case, those products being any and all parts that help you maintain the correct pressure for any room in a healthcare facility. This diverse group of parts give the helping hand needed to combat ever changing air pressures. This small part plays a large role in ensuring perfect air pressure throughout a facility—down to every last nook and cranny.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at Kele if you have questions. Contact us or visit us online for all your differential air pressure monitoring needs.

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