Horry County Schools looking to tackle air filter issue

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The Horry County School District is looking to tackle an issue that affects tax dollars and the air quality in schools.

Executive Director of Facilities for the district, Mark Wolfe, said his staff replaces 78,000 air filters a year which amounts to about 325 a day.

“It’s quite a labor intensive process,” said Wolfe.

He said the HVAC work orders are the most requested in the district which causes an “overwhelming work load for technicians.”

Wolfe presented a plan to the facilities committee to request bids for an outside vendor to do the air filter work.

“I think we just need to have a discussion with the board to see what the best approach is to tackle the issue,” he added.

Wolfe said the filters cost the district about $160,000 a year but overtime costs and time-consuming work are causing the problem.

“We’ve asked for volunteers to come in on Fridays and Mondays to help keep up but obviously that’s overtime,” said Wolfe.

He said most of the work has to be done when students aren’t in the classroom. They’ve tried other ways around the issue, like implementing evening maintenance crews, but said those have “proven to be insufficient just because of the volume of filters we have to change.”

Bids are coming in now and the district will determine if it would be cost and time effective to use an outside vendor. 

If the district chooses to continue doing the work in-house, Wolfe said more staff, vehicles and storage space will be needed.

The Charleston County School District switched to an outside vendor in 2014 which handles all filter management and coil cleaning. They replace about 65,000 filters a year, work between 2 p.m. and midnight and give principals advance notice. Wolfe said the district has had an “extremely positive experience” with the vendor.

The bids for Horry County Schools are good until early June.

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