4 Outstanding Benefits of a Fresh Air Ventilation System in Your Home

Indoor Air Quality

Do you ever feel suffocated inside your home, not being able to breathe properly, and even have constant allergy attacks? You wondered if it is your air conditioner or furnace that is causing your problems, yet your HVAC systems are still running and humming efficiently, keeping the temperature level pleasant and comfy. 

The next place you should consider is if you have sufficient ventilation in your house. Ventilation is the exchange of indoor and outdoor air. 

Many homes use a fresh air ventilation system on top of their cooling and heating system to enhance their indoor ventilation. But is it worth it? 

DP fresh air ventilation system

What are the Advantages of a Fresh Air Ventilation System?

While a lot of people are only content with having decent air conditioning and heating systems, it could be worth investing in a fresh air ventilation system. Why?

  1. Cleaner indoor air – Air conditioning and heating systems modify the temperature of your indoor air, but it is basically the same recycled air. Because of this, the air becomes stale and impurities that made their way inside your home could simply be recirculating. A fresh air ventilation system can help diminish these airborne toxins and lessen the risk of allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
  2. Increased comfort – Too much airtightness without proper airflow can cause discomfort and even issues in our wellbeing. Mechanical ventilation such as fresh air ventilation systems can replace the indoor air with its odors and staleness with renewed air at minimal costs. 
  3. Lower risk of carbon monoxide poisoning – Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. If you fail to maintain your fuel-burning appliances, the CO buildup can cause serious health issues, even death. A sufficient amount of airflow between the outside and your living space helps to release harmful toxins from the air such as poisonous gases from combustion appliances.
  4. Reduced moisture – Excessive humidity in a home leads to mold growth and the breeding of insects and other pests. Adequate airflow will decrease the condensation buildup and high moisture level indoors, making it less ideal for harmful organisms to develop. 

There are three major types of ventilation for residential homes and buildings: natural, spot, and whole-house ventilation.  Deciding which and how many of these three types of ventilation you will employ for your home based on its functions and benefits will depend on the physical structure of your residence and the daily activities of the family that potentially produce pollutants in your indoor air.

Proper ventilation of your home can protect you from real-life dangers such as carbon monoxide poisoning and allergy attacks triggered by excessive moisture in the air.

What Is An Air Ventilation System?

You might hear the terms “airflow” and “ventilation” and think only of the cool air that flows out of your precious air conditioning unit. The US Department of Energy helps us out with a very uncomplicated and easy-to-understand definition of ventilation: It “is the exchange of indoor and outdoor air.”

The government agency responsible for advancing policies on energy use strongly suggests that if a residence has proper and sufficient airflow, it makes the home “energy-efficient, safe, and healthy.”

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) provided a more definitive description for ventilation which “is that air used for providing acceptable indoor air quality.”

Meanwhile, indoor air quality impacts the health, comfort, and well-being of the residents immensely. Too many impurities can trigger asthma, allergy-like symptoms, and breathing problems.

Another authority on the matter of protecting indoor air quality, the United States Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, says that adequate ventilation “can be an effective and energy-efficient way to supplement HVAC systems to provide outside air ventilation, cooling, and thermal comfort when conditions permit (e.g., temperature, humidity, outdoor air pollution levels, precipitation).”

Hence, adequate airflow may help you reduce energy consumption and even delay the normal wear-and-tear of your AC unit, making it last longer than the usual lifespan of 5 to 10 years.

It is important to remember that while air conditioning thrives in sealed spaces, it is still vital to keep a healthy flow of outdoor air and sunshine spread around your living space.

You may wonder, though, “Do open spaces with operable windows always have better indoor air quality than sealed spaces?” 

EPA addressed that concern by stating that open windows can be useful when certain activities indoors generate pollutants that need to be aired out. Such activities may include but are not limited to, construction, renovation, and other maintenance services. In those cases, operable windows can exhaust byproducts and waste materials mixed in the air.

However, EPA warns that “uncontrolled ventilation with outdoor air can allow outdoor air contaminants to bypass filters, potentially disrupt the balance of the mechanical ventilation equipment and permit the introduction of excess moisture if access is not controlled.”

Now, what is fresh air ventilation or a mechanical ventilation system?

These compact devices have temperature and humidity sensors in them that indicate if there is a need for a “breath of fresh air”. It is installed as an addition to your existing air conditioning and heating systems. 

Simply put, it extracts a certain amount of air from the inside of your home and replaces it by moving fresh air from the outside. Along with the indoor air, the fresh air ventilation system pushes out airborne pollutants, excess moisture, and stale and bad odors.

These devices are extra beneficial for sections in your home with condensation build ups such as the kitchen, bathroom, attics, and basements.

What Can You Consider Healthy Air in a Home?

According to a study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009, “the general purpose of ventilation in buildings is to provide healthy air for breathing by both diluting the pollutants originating in the building and removing the pollutants from it.”

This means that a good kind of ventilation frees the structure from harmful toxins that may impact the health of the residents if mixed in their breathing air.

ASHRAE, which was mentioned earlier, is an association looking to advance heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems design and construction. It stated that to say that the living area of the home is properly ventilated, it “should be ventilated at a rate of 0.35 air changes per hour or 15 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per person, whichever is greater.”

How can we achieve this standard level of airflow for our residences?

There are three types of ventilation that we can use: natural ventilation, spot ventilation, and whole-house ventilation.

Natural Ventilation

It is “the uncontrolled air movement from windows, doors, or cracks in the home,” as per the Department of Energy. As described above, this allowed fresh outdoor air to come inside the living space. 

Windows, doors, solar chimneys, wind towers, and trickle ventilators are some examples of natural ventilation in a house or a building that are purposely built to open the space for air exchange. Cracks and small holes, despite not being installed on purpose, also facilitate the uncontrolled movement of air. 

Because it does not consume electricity or any mechanical energy, this kind of ventilation is practically cheaper and easier to install than the other kinds of ventilation. This is common in the older model of residences.

However, there is a downside to solely relying on natural forms of ventilation. Outdoor pollution, such as building exhausts, combustion from automobiles, pollen, dirt, and dust particles can easily infiltrate your house and affect its indoor air quality.

Additionally, unmonitored cracks, small holes, and leaks may result in high energy consumption if you have the air conditioning system running. The AC will find it harder to lower the room temperature because the cool air keeps escaping.

Spot Ventilator Systems

This is a more advanced stage of ventilation, often with the use of a mechanical device such as an exhaust fan to aid the airflow at a faster pace of exchange.

The need for this kind of ventilation arises when you have identified certain areas in your home that become more “polluted” either caused by their location, use, or the activities being done there.

For example, rooms such as bathrooms, toilets, and kitchens have more toxins in the air compared to other spaces. These areas also have high levels of moisture, which could be a perfect breeding ground for molds, mildews, and insects.

Thus, exhaust fans are placed in bathroom or toilet windows, while range hoods and also fans are installed in kitchens.

Spot ventilation is a great addition to natural ventilation as it allows you to control the release of pollutants in problematic spaces.

Whole House Ventilation System

This type of ventilation uses a combination of one or several fans and duct systems to significantly improve the airflow inside your house. 

As its name suggests, the installation of fans is applied all-throughout the residence to make sure that stale air is exhausted continuously and at the same time, supply fresh air into your home.

Some homeowners, despite having installed whole-house ventilation, still choose to enhance it by also using spot ventilation in areas that generate more air pollutants.

According to ASHRAE, bathrooms require a higher level of air exchange of 50 or 20 cfm, while kitchens need to reach 100 or 25 cfm airflow.

Is it Worth it to Have a Fresh Air Ventilation System?

“Without proper ventilation, an otherwise insulated and airtight house will seal in harmful pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, and moisture that can damage a house,” the Department of Energy warns.

Despite being inside the safety of your home, you may still be at risk of being exposed to harmful toxins and air pollutants. What are these health hazards to look out for? And how can adequate ventilation aided by a fresh air ventilation system help you fight them?

Reduced Indoor Pollutants

While you may think that the outside air is dirtier than the air inside your home, think again. Recent studies and experiments show that indoor air is surprisingly much more polluted than what we breathe outside.

How can this be possible? While germs, bacteria, and viruses run rampant outdoors, the natural air can disperse them thanks to the much larger surface area outside

Meanwhile, the same toxic particulates can make their way inside our homes when humans and pets leave and enter the house or move around indoors several times a day. 

Your saving grace could be a fresh air ventilation system. This device can help you lower the air contaminants and reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses such as minor and severe allergies and asthma.

Boost in Comfort

Air conditioning and heating systems are widely used to regulate temperature. Cooling devices get us through the blaring summers while furnaces keep us warm and toasty on harsh cold winters.

But since these temperature-regulating systems thrive in an airtight environment, there is almost no way for fresh air to break in, nor is there enough means for restricted air to get out. 

Some reported getting sick with unexplained series of symptoms because of their extended stay in airtight buildings. The terms “sick building syndrome” or “tight building syndrome” were coined to describe this array of health problems allegedly caused by a lack of proper ventilation in workplaces and residences.

With the use of a fresh air ventilation system, the stale, and sometimes even smelly air trapped indoors is released from your living or working space. Meanwhile, oxygenated air from outdoors is supplied into your home in a controlled manner without wasting so much energy.

Less Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading threat to your home’s indoor air quality. It is a hazardous gas produced by fuel-burning appliances and can be fatal if not vented properly. Since it cannot be easily detected by the senses, it is crucial to maintain a healthy flow of air to keep it out of your family’s breathing air.

What are the negative effects of CO on your family’s health?

“It displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain, and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overcome you in minutes without warning — causing you to lose consciousness and suffocate,” according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA.)

You may be exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning without being readily aware of it. This colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas can cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness, drowsiness, or nausea. If exposed to CO for a longer period, some experience sudden chest pain, vomiting, confusion, loss of consciousness, and muscle weakness.

By utilizing a fresh air ventilation system, you will significantly reduce the hazard of carbon monoxide poisoning. Dangerous gases such as CO and combustion gases and their particles are given a way out and are exhausted outdoors through proper ventilation.

Of course, regular checkups and maintenance of CO-producing appliances are also very crucial.

No Excessive Moisture 

A high level of humidity is another typical reason for poor indoor air quality. Despite being often underestimated by homeowners, excessive moisture promotes mold and mildew that can trigger allergies and other respiratory problems. It is essential to prevent air leaks and provide a proper escape path for moisture by ventilating.

High levels of humidity indoors are also a source of allergens like mold, mildew, and insects. These nuisances are not welcome in any home for obvious reasons: they generate germs and bacteria that make our surroundings indoors unhealthy to live in.

They are known to trigger allergies and irritating symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, watery nose and eyes, and difficulty in breathing.

Additionally, the Illinois Department of Public Health cited another potential problem caused by heightened humidity. “Too much moisture can cause wood to rot, which may weaken the structure of your home. Moisture can cause peeling, chipping, or cracking paint, which, if your home was built before 1978, may contribute to high levels of lead in household dust.”

By installing a fresh air ventilation system, you will constantly introduce natural air from outside, making it less likely for condensation buildup to occur. Without too much humidity, your home will be less desirable for mold to propagate.

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