While ventilation is very important, ventilation system design doesn't have to be difficult or complex. Referring to the flow of air in a building or other structure, ventilation can be achieved by many different techniques.
Ventilation is important for several reasons. It can help to keep your home feeling and smelling fresh, and can also help to prevent several potential risks to your health, home and possessions.
One common symptom of poor ventilation is the damp caused by condensation. All air contains a certain amount of moisture, which, if it builds up, can turn into condensation when the relatively warm air makes contact with colder surfaces, such as walls or windows. If this is left unchecked, it can lead to damp, which can cause damage to the house and furnishings. Damp can also cause or contribute to a range of health problems, including respiratory infections, allergies and asthma.
A ventilation system can help to disperse contaminants, including dust, house-dust mites, cigarette smoke, and other pollutants, which can also trigger asthma and allergic reactions. Cleaning products and other sources may release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which can also contribute to a range of health problems if they are allowed to build up.
Another issue that many people are not aware of is the build-up of radon gas, which can be prevalent in some parts of the UK. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that radon gas can contribute to the incidence of lung cancer and ventilation can help to prevent its build-up.
The most basic system of ventilation involves opening windows and doors. This can be a great way to air a house but it also has some obvious drawbacks. During bad weather, for example, which is the most common time for condensation to strike, opening windows can allow cold air, rain or snow into the house. In the summer, opening windows allows insects or pollen to get in, which could be bad news for any hay fever sufferers. Bad smells, traffic pollution and other contaminants can all enter via large openings, such as windows and doors. There is also a security aspect to this and it is obviously not a good idea to leave doors or windows open when you are not at home.
Controlled, active, or mechanical ventilation systems use different methods to move fresh air into or out of the property and circulate it through the house. Extractor fans are a simple way of removing moist, stale, smelly or contaminated air from the house, and can be particularly useful in specific locations, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Mechanical ventilators and fans can also be placed elsewhere in the home, to draw in or to expel air. Ventilators that draw air into the house may be fitted with filters, which help prevent impurities and contaminants from getting into the home.
Positive ventilation is a similar system which uses a unit placed in the loft. This unit draws a source of fresh air into the house and the pressure forces stale air out, leading to a gentle but constant circulation of air.
There are also more complex systems available, like mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR), which extracts air from 'polluted' areas, such as kitchens, toilets and bathrooms and supplies air to 'living' areas. The extracted air is passed through a central heat exchanger, with the heat recovered being transferred into the supply air.
Different ventilation systems will be suitable for different circumstances and types of property. Positive input ventilation, for example, requires a (preferably unused) loft space. A reputable ventilation specialist will be able to assess your property and recommend a range of possible solutions.
They will also be able to supply and install the system, helping you to enjoy your home and avoid the potential health issues and other problems that can result from a lack of ventilation.
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