9/9/2014

Ventilation Considerations for Home Remodeling

In today’s energy-efficient homes and buildings, more airtight construction plays an important role in preventing energy loss. While an airtight building envelope is a key foundation for saving energy, health and comfort problems may arise when proper ventilation is not also addressed. An airtight building strategy works to prevent air flow into and out of the building. When a mechanical ventilation strategy is excluded, the indoor air quality of the building may suffer.

When remodeling your home for energy efficiency, consider how you plan to ensure proper home ventilation. Quality mechanical ventilation such as Zehnder’s home ventilation systems can equip your home with a constant flow of fresh, clean air while simultaneously removing indoor air pollutants. In turn, you and your family will reap the benefits of a healthy and comfortable environment in your newly remodeled home.

Types of Home Ventilation

Ventilation occurs when air enters and leaves a building. There are three main ways that homes receive ventilation: infiltration, natural ventilation, and mechanical ventilation. Infiltration and natural ventilation are more inherent forms of ventilation that do not utilize special equipment or processes dedicated to improving air quality.  Mechanical ventilation such as heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) provide more controlled and energy-efficient home ventilation.

The three main types of home ventilation are defined as:

  1. Infiltration: When air flows into the building through small openings. These include joints and cracks in the building’s floors, ceilings, and walls, as well as around doors and windows. Air flowing out of a building in this manner is referred to as exfiltration.
  2. Natural ventilation: When air flows into and out of the building through opened doors and windows.
  3. Mechanical ventilation: When a device or system works to consistently remove stale air and pollutants while introducing new, fresh air into the building.

Air Exchange Rate

Air exchange rate is defined as the rate at which indoor air is replaced by outdoor air. In airtight homes and buildings lacking a proper system for ventilation, the air exchange rate is lower than needed. In turn, the levels of indoor air pollutants will typically increase. Infiltration and natural ventilation rely on a number of varying factors to achieve a healthy air exchange rate, such as wind and differences in air temperature. Installing a mechanical ventilation system is one of the most effective ways to achieve an optimal air exchange rate for health and comfort.

Importance of Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality in homes, buildings, and schools is a silent-yet-critical component in the overall health and wellbeing of the individuals who inhabit them. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that poor indoor air quality is among the top global environmental health risks. On average, indoor air pollutants in poorly ventilated buildings may be two to five times higher than outdoor pollutants. Poor indoor air quality can be a breeding ground for harmful particles such as mold, dust, pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and more. Consistent exposure to these pollutants can lead to health conditions including nasal congestion, headaches, allergy triggers, and chronic respiratory disease. Homes that use proper ventilation work to improve the overall health and wellbeing of individuals and families.