Healthier Homes Using Air to Air Exchange Systems

Can your own home be making you sick?

The overall performance and indoor air quality of any home is dependent upon its ability to function properly. Homes of today are uniquely designed with energy efficiency in mind. Hence, the structure becomes much tighter raising serious indoor air quality, comfort and structural concerns.

Indoor Air Quality Ventilation and Moisture Control

Newer construction methods can improve air tightness conflicting with the ability of your home to function properly. Air flow, ventilation, temperature control, air filtration, dust (mites) problems and more are very serious concerns for the health of your family. Question: Can your own home be making you sick? Answer: Yes.

Indoor Air Quality. Any structure must have the ability to breathe by mechanical means and function as a complete system. Any building structure is composed of a wide variety of manmade, natural building materials and components that need to function in harmony during our adverse weather conditions throughout the year.

Moisture problems can lead to significant health problems and indoor air quality concerns of its occupants. Structural dry rot or overall weakness can derive from the inability of the structure to prevent or move moisture away from the home. Major respiratory ailments can develop from these unhealthy conditions, especially in the elderly and young infants. Indoor Air Quality concerns include a lack of ventilation which can be a contributing factor from within our homes as a major contributor of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).  PDF version

Inadequate ventilation is very common in many homes which can lead to mold growth and other respiratory ailments causing Indoor Air Quality issues. There are more than 100,000 species of molds. Over 1,000 different molds are found in the United States. Some common molds found are species of Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Penicillium and Alternaria. These molds produce airborne toxins called Mycotoxins which can cause very serious breathing difficulties, memory and hearing loss, dizziness, flu like symptoms and possible bleeding of the lungs possibly related to our indoor air quality.

Many other indoor air quality symptoms may include running nose, eye irritation, chronic cough, congestion, severe respiratory problems and aggravation of asthma. Common molds can be toxic and sometimes lethal for individuals with weakened immune systems. A 1996 Mayo Clinic study had linked chronic sinus infections afflicting over 37 million people to molds.

Radon, The Invisible Intruder, effecting our indoor air quality can be lethal effecting an estimated 20,000 people per year. Ranked #2, and a known leading cause of Lung Cancer in the United States. There are many causes for alarm that can be related to our indoor air quality and this disease to include much tighter surroundings within our own indoor living environments.

As we spend up to 90% of our time indoors, the air we breathe, as much as 200,000 liters per day, can be related to our indoor air quality and contains microbiological and solid airborne submicroscopic particulates that can be dangerous and very harmful to our immune system especially in young infants.

Over 90% of these harmful particulates are less in size than .03 microns. One micron is 100 times less than a human hair follicle. Most filters generally capture less than 10% its required rate of filtration and are very restrictive to air flow, which can therefore increase energy costs and reduce heating and cooling performance. Penetration into structures from cracks, non-existent moisture barriers and weakened foundations may increase the risk of radon and affecting our indoor air quality.

This poisonous gas is now the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Second-Hand smoke can also cause severe respiratory problems and kills over 50,000 people every year. There are over 2,000 known chemicals and 200 toxins including carbon monoxide.

Stachybotrys (Stack-ee-BOT-ris) is an especially lethal and most dangerous greenish-black mold that usually tends to grow on materials with high cellulose content, such as drywall, ceiling tiles and wood. This development of mold growth can be caused by chronic water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks and condensation directly effectively our indoor air quality.

Improving Your Indoor Air Quality

Methods of improving the indoor air quality from within your home include temperature consistency, relative humidity, air purification, air filtration, ventilation such as an air to air exchanger, make-up air systems when required and combustion air for atmospheric vented appliances. It is imperative that your homes integrated building components and HVAC systems function properly to provide a healthier and more sustainable home and its indoor air quality.

Overall temperature consistency throughout the home can lower energy consumption. People with allergies and asthma may reduce their symptoms with proper filtration, temperature and purification methods for better indoor air quality. Combustion air is essential for atmospheric vented appliances. Homes of today can consist of large fan-powered exhaust devices such as kitchen range exhaust hoods. Specific ventilation requirements recommend make-up air systems to prevent dangerous depressurization or back drafting of the home. Integrated make-up air systems include multi-stage pre-heat capabilities by adding heat to the incoming cold air during the winter months. HVI Certified Indoor Air Quality Systems provide peace of mind and reassurance that your home is functional and comfortable.

In conclusion, essential to proper indoor air quality is a Mechanical Ventilation system or Air Exchanger providing fresh air into the building while exhausting stale, unhealthy air to the outside. The heat from the stale air stream is transferred through a recovery core to the incoming fresh air stream and back into the home. Only a highly trained indoor air quality professional should design and apply these integrated systems into your home.

Up to 95% of homes have an improper and dysfunctional air exchanger type application. Is your home making your family sick? Stale air? Lingering odors? Lack of clean, fresh air? Moisture on your windows, replacing window(s), humidity problems?

Whole House Ventilation

This is a mechanical process in which the entire volume of stale air confined within a dwelling is exhausted to the outdoors, up to 90% of the heat in the air to be exhausted is recovered and fresh air is supplied back into the building. Exclusive 5-speed motor operation.

In many new homes, moisture trapped from within the building wall cavity may cause excessive moisture, therefore causing possible decay and structural rot. Other hazards may include possible internal depressurization and back-drafting of the building.

This condition can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to elevate within the home. It is highly recommended that any excess relative humidity is removed from the home by
an air exchanger.

Other concerns are homes that have been super-insulated beyond the required minimal standards by local code, excessive air tightness, lack of moisture prevention during the construction process, poor attic ventilation and minimal moisture barriers.

Air Exchangers provide an effective means of ventilation for your home. There are several types of applications for your home. A typical installation usually occurs in the mechanical room near the furnace. HRV or (Heat Recovery Ventilator) are most beneficial in colder climates by recovering over 70% of sensible heat from indoor air. As the exhaust air passes through the heat recovery core, heat from the indoor air stream is transferred with fresh air back into the home. ERV or (Energy Recovery Ventilator) systems can recover additional heat, due to the latent heat of moisture removal from the air stream. These systems are very effective in warmer, more humid climates.

Air Exchangers can provide continuous ventilation and moisture control for your home. Overall performance and health of your home is dependent on proper ventilation, humidification and precision temperature control. The design and application is essential in building function and system operation.

Air Exchangers are a cost effective and efficient means of improving indoor air quality. Typical applications include residential homes, indoor pools, health clubs, smoking rooms, dental offices, beauty salons, automotive stations and much more. Moisture control is essential in maintaining a healthy indoor environment. Energy-efficient operation lowers operating costs. Annual electrical consumption of less than 2 amps is comparable to a 100 watt light bulb. Application may include pre-heat accessories, control modulation and duct fabrication.

Special applications may include INDOOR POOLS which require the ability to maintain constant water and air temperatures. Ventilation Systems can increase the ability of the conditioned pool area to remove a large amount of moisture effectively. Temperature and humidity control are essential in maintaining a more comfortable and much healthier indoor environment. Ductwork application requires very specific air flow calculations to ensure proper air movement. These applications require extensive design, moisture, temperature and ventilation system management.

Severe decay, structural rot, mold formation, health problems and window condensation of buildings are typical signs of neglect or inadequate ventilation. Most applications are inadequate and unable to provide peak performance due to improper sizing and/or application methods.

Interested in learning more about how an energy efficient air exchange ventilator can improve the air quality in your home?  Contact a Minnesota HVAC professional for more information about Air Exchangers.

Common Questions about Heat and Energy Recovery Ventilators

Common Questions about Heat and Energy Recovery Ventilators

This publication discusses selecting and maintaining heat recovery ventilators and energy recovery ventilators (HRV/ERVs). These mechanical ventilation systems use fans to maintain a low-velocity flow of fresh outdoor air into the house (incoming air stream) while exhausting out an equal amount of stale indoor air (exhaust air stream). Fresh air is supplied to all levels of the house while stale air is removed from areas with high levels of pollutants and moisture.

Sources: www.epa.gov

www.extension.umn.edu/

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