Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment

5.2.1 Ventilation, Heating, Cooling, and Hot Water Heating and Ventilation Equipment Inspection and Maintenance

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 09/22/2021.

COVID-19 modification as of 08/10/2022.


After reading the CFOC standard, see COVID-19 modification below (Also consult applicable state licensure and public health requirements).    

All heating, air conditioning and ventilation equipment should be inspected and cleaned before each cooling and heating season by a qualified heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) consultant. This includes boilers, hot water heaters, electric or gas heaters, heat pumps, air handlers, air conditioner compressors, refrigerant levels, fan coil units, condensate pumps, variable air volume controls and all filters.  The ventilation consultant should also check all combustible gas chimneys, flues and fresh air make up vents.  A ventilation consultant should verify in writing that the equipment is properly installed, cleaned, and maintained to operate efficiently and effectively. The systems should be operated in accordance with operating instructions and be certified that it meets the local building code, as required. Documentation of these inspections and certification of safety should be kept on file in the facility.

COVID-19 modification as of August 10, 2022: 

Improving ventilation is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy that can reduce the number of virus particles in the air. In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on ventilation, it is recommended that staff:

  • Consult with building facility staff or administrators to ensure ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality for the recommended occupancy levels for each space.
    • Building ventilation systems should be evaluated regularly to ensure compliance with Indoor Air Quality standards and COVID 19 recommendations.
    • Clean and change filters as recommended by manufacturer for all air and water devices.
      • If system allows, ensure filters are MERV 13 or higher, as recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
    • Ventilation recommendations for different types of buildings can be found in the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Schools and Universities' Guidance
    • Home-based programs should have good ventilation, ensure heating and cooling systems are inspected as described in this guidance, the systems are maintained in good repair, and any filters are changed on the recommended regular basis.
    • Find an experienced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) consultant when considering changes to HVAC systems and equipment.
    • Ventilation system upgrades or improvements can increase the delivery of clean air, remove some potentially harmful particles, and reduce some childhood respiratory complications.
  • See COVID modification to Standard Ensuring Access to Fresh Air Indoors for additional ventilation guidance.

Additional Resources:

American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Children’s Environmental Health Network

Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center

United States Environmental Protection Agency



Routinely scheduled inspections and proper operation ensure that equipment is working properly. Heating equipment is the second leading cause of ignition in fatal house fires.1 Heating equipment that is kept in good repair is less likely to cause fires.


Qualified engineers can ensure heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) systems are functioning properly and that applicable standards are being met. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Website includes the qualifications required of its members and the location of the local ASHRAE chapter. The contractor who services the child care HVAC system should provide evidence of successful completion of ASHRAE or comparable courses. Caregivers/teachers should understand enough about codes and standards to be sure the facility’s building is a healthful place to be.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Ensuring Access to Fresh Air Indoors Maintenance of Air Filters Carbon Monoxide Detectors
  1. Ahrens, M., and Maheshwari, R. Home Structure Fires. National Fire Protection Association. Published November 2020. Accessed September 2021.


Content in the STANDARD was modified on 09/22/2021.

COVID-19 modification as of 08/10/2022.