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Ventilation is an essential part of creating a comfortable and healthy home environment. However, the appropriate amount and type of ventilation varies from home to home, depending on the number of people and pets that live in the house, activities, lifestyle, health concerns and preferences.
Ventilation is crucial for managing moisture, reducing mold growth, and avoiding structural damage. A ventilation system involves moving air between the inside and outside. Without adequate ventilation, a house that is well-insulated and airtight will keep damaging pollutants like carbon monoxide and dampness in your home. High humidity levels might also force cooling systems to work harder, raising energy costs.
Additionally, gases from combustion devices, such as stoves and fireplaces, can build up in a home with inadequate ventilation and endanger your health and safety. It can also leak or release toxins in the house, including deadly carbon monoxide. These exhaust gases must be directly vented outside and appliances must be properly installed and maintained for safe and efficient operation.
There are three main types of ventilation: natural ventilation, spot ventilation and whole-home ventilation.
Ventilation is caused by a difference in air pressure between the inside and outside of the house. Air moves from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. Natural ventilation is unregulated airflow from the home’s windows, doors, attics, basements, or cracks.
Natural ventilation is much more complicated since numerous variables have a part in this pressure differential, including the temperature of the air inside and outside the house, the wind blowing against the side of the house, and the wind’s direction.
You can check the airtightness of your home by getting a blower door test. Improvements in home building construction over the past few decades have helped reduce these unintended leakage zones by up to 90 per cent. Still, leaks in the home envelope permit air to travel even when all the windows are closed, resulting in natural ventilation.
In the past, this air leakage frequently reduced air pollution to an acceptable level, maintaining indoor air quality. Today, we fill in such gaps and cracks to make our houses more energy efficient. However, ventilation is still required to maintain a comfortable and healthy indoor climate once a home has been adequately air-sealed.
Spot ventilation regulates airflow by utilizing exhaust fans to quickly remove moisture and pollutants from their source. Bathroom exhaust fans and range hoods over stoves are typical spot ventilation examples you would find in most homes. And, yes every bathroom requires an exhaust fan, even if you have a window — this is code.
Household appliances such as dryers, power-vented water heaters and central vacuum cleaning systems can also exhaust significant air. Spot ventilation can increase the efficiency of natural ventilation and is often used in conjunction with one of the other techniques.
Whole-home ventilation involves removing stale air from the house and bringing in new air using one or more fans and duct systems. Whole-house ventilation systems deliver consistent, regulated ventilation across the whole building. There are four types of systems: exhaust ventilation, supply ventilation, balanced ventilation and energy recovery ventilation.
Exhaust ventilation systems are generally easy and inexpensive to install and function by depressurizing the building. Exhaust-only ventilation is a one-sided system that frequently uses bathroom and kitchen fans to exhaust stale air without offering a dedicated source of fresh air. The home draws outside air through leaks in the walls and floors to compensate for the lost air.
Supply ventilation systems are similar to exhaust ventilation but work by pressing the building. They pressurize your house with a fan, forcing outside air inside while the air escapes through holes in the shell, ducts for the range and bathroom fans, and purposeful vents.
Although exhaust and supply vents for fresh air can be put in any room, a typical balanced ventilation system should be designed to provide fresh air to bedrooms and living rooms because those are where occupants spend most of their time. When designed and used correctly, balanced ventilation systems don’t pressurize or depressurize a home. Instead, they exchange about equal volumes of contaminated interior water and clean outdoor water. A balanced ventilation system typically has two fans and two duct systems. This can be offered through energy recovery ventilation systems, in addition to humidity control
It’s important that your home can expel moisture, smoke, cooking odors, and other interior contaminants with ventilation. Structural ventilation regulates the attic’s temperature, manages the basement and crawlspace’s moisture level, and prevents moisture from penetrating uninsulated walls. Controlling moisture can improve your home’s comfort, energy efficiency, heating and cooling costs, and mold growth. Your attempts to insulate and air-seal your home will be more successful if you properly manage the moisture with adequate ventilation.
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