business matters
Jose Montes of Valencia-based Kennihan Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning works on a UV filtering system.

Virus shines light on UV filtering system

Jerry Kennihan decided to try an ultraviolet filtering system in his own home years ago because his son has asthma.

While standard air filters catch particulates, UV filters, which are installed inside HVAC ductwork, hit circulating air with a carbon plate and an ultraviolet light to break down mold, bacteria, germs and odors.

Kennihan said use of the filter in his home made a noticeable positive impact on his son's breathing, but now customers of Kennihan Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning are inquiring about the filters with an entirely different target in mind: COVID-19.

“As this thing keeps going further and further, we've heard of different people trying UV — airlines, some police departments are going to try it in their cars. Hospitals use the same technology,” Kennihan said. “Nothing kills everything, but this is one more big step that could help mitigate risks.”

Although these particular UV filters have not been tested for COVID-19 prevention in particular, Kennihan said the light can destroy the DNA of a virus, preventing it from reproducing.“A day care owner contacted us because they wanted to assure families that when the kids come back, that they've done everything possible to stay safe,” Kennihan said. “And a landlord inquired about getting it installed in all seven of her rental properties for her tenants.”

Kennihan Plumbing not only sells the product, but also can install it. Deemed an essential business by the state, Kennihan has worked throughout the pandemic. Business did slow as customers are less likely to undertake projects and bring contractors into their homes, Kennihan said. But still, the Valencia-based company has responded to emergencies like broken toilets and water heaters.

Staff members, Kennihan said, wear protective gear, including shoe coverings and masks with a special filter insert. The inserts filter to 0.3 micros of anything traveling through them. The inserts, which also are available to customers, can be disinfected in an oven at 170 degrees for 30 minutes.

Additionally, Kennihan Plumbing has been doing most of its paperwork by computer and staggering employee start times to make social distancing easier to accomplish. Kennihan said no one but employees are permitted inside the office and customers are asked a series of questions before an employee is dispatched, like, “Has someone in your family been ill?” or “Has someone in your family traveled outside of the country?”

“Sadly, we've had to turn down business,” Kennihan said. “We did not get a Paycheck Protection Program loan. My dad and mom (owners of the business) made a decision to keep everyone on at 40 hours anyway. Right now we don't have the workload to cover our (14) employees. But this is a good group for us … so we are going to fund this.”