Clean air filters that are stored outside of the box, or a plastic bag, will often times be cited by surveyors under an infection control standard. The logic is dust and dirt will accumulate on the surface of the air filter and when inserted into the air handler, the dust and dirt may be blown downstream and into the patient care or staff areas. Therefore, the dusty clean filters presents an infection control problem by potentially re-distributing the dirt into a clean environment.
A simple solution to this problem is to always store your clean filters in the original shipping containers and never leave them out unprotected. If they do get separated from the box they came in, then place them in a clean plastic bag and seal the bag. Obviously, dirty filters should not be left in the mechanical rooms, as they need to be disposed of as soon as they are removed.
Questions that I get asked is it OK to store clean filters, in their original shipping boxes, in the mechanical room where they will eventually be used? Yes, boxes of clean filters may be stored in a mechanical room, provided:
- The mechanical room itself does not house any fuel-fired equipment, such as gas furnaces, boilers, and gas water heaters
- The mechanical room is constructed to meet Hazardous Room requirements, such as automatic sprinklers and 1-hour fire rated barriers for new construction, or automatic sprinkler or 1-hour fire rated barriers for existing construction.
- There is no Joint Commission or CMS requirement to store the filters on pallets or shelves. Just make sure the boxes are not stored in a wet environment.