Ventilation is important for every home. There are different ways to implement ventilation systems, each with their pros and cons, but whole house ventilation has several distinct advantages.
Ventilation refers to the movement of air through the home and this is important for many reasons. First, it can help prevent the damp caused by condensation. Ventilation systems can remove moist air before the water it contains has a chance to re-condense into droplets and cause damp or black mould. According to a recent government report, around a million homes were affected by damp in 2015. The most common damp problem was condensation and mould, which affected 586,000 homes, more than other causes, such as rising damp, and penetration damp.
Damp and mould can have a serious impact on your family’s health and can also damage your home or belongings. The NHS adds that damp and mouldy conditions can impact people with asthma, weaken the immune system, and causing allergic reactions such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash.
Good ventilation can help to prevent the build-up of other potentially harmful substances, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and radon gas, as well as various allergens, pollutants, and dust mites, which can also trigger asthma. A well-ventilated home is also likely to feel and smell fresher, and generally be a more pleasant environment in which to live.
There are many ways to achieve adequate ventilation, with some more suitable for homes and certain environments than others.
Passive, or uncontrolled, ventilation uses fixed vents and air bricks to allow air to move in and out of the property naturally, as well as small cracks and holes in the walls, roof, and around doors and windows. Windows and doors can also be opened for extra ventilation.
This can be a cheap and simple means of ventilation but it does have some drawbacks as it depends on weather conditions, such as the presence of wind. On still days there might not be much air movement but on windy days some types of vents could let in draughts. It can also be energy-inefficient, as heat can escape through the same gaps. Leaving doors and windows open could pose a security risk and again this is weather dependent. Vents and air bricks are often forgotten about over time and could be blocked off by furniture or renovations.
A step up from this is the use of extractor fans in individual spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens, and utility rooms. These can be handy for drawing out moisture, smells and pollutants from these areas but will not do much for other rooms in the house.
Whole house ventilation, as the name suggests, improves the airflow throughout the entire house.
The Department of Energy says, “The decision to use whole-house ventilation is typically motivated by concerns that natural ventilation won't provide adequate air quality, even with source control by spot ventilation. Whole-house ventilation systems provide controlled, uniform ventilation throughout a house.”
This is true whichever side of the Pond you are on, and good ventilation can be even more important in a generally damp climate, such as in the UK.
There are different types of whole house ventilation available but all use mechanical systems to circulate air through the property. Exhaust ventilation systems extract stale air out of the building. This depressurises the home and air comes in through natural ventilation to fill the ‘gap’. Supply ventilation works on the opposite principle, by drawing air into the house that then forcing the stale air out.
Balanced systems use a combination of fans and vents to air into and out of the building. Finally, there are energy recovery systems that not only extract/supply air in and out but also pass it through a heat or energy exchange. This allows for heat from the outgoing air to be transferred to the incoming air and can help your home to be more energy-efficient.
Different solutions will suit various circumstances, and professional installers can assess your home and requirements and advise on the best fit for you.
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