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Top Tips For Improving The Indoor Air Quality In Your Home

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How to Improve Ventilation in Your Home

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Nov 05, 2014

In order to improve the quality of air in your home the key lies in ventilation. Properly ventilating your home will immensely benefit you and your property. The simplest form of mechanical ventilation is the use of extractor fans combined with trickle vents in windows. Air is extracted from rooms where moisture is produced, bathrooms and kitchens. Fresh air is drawn into the house via trickle vents. 

Earlier this month, we caught up with Rebecca McLean, EnviroVent's Marketing Director who is passionate about making people aware of the importance of indoor air quality and was happy to share her top tips for improving the air quality in your home.

House Ventilation Options 

Some ventilation systems use a heat exchange unit to capture the heat from the rising warm air before it exits your home in order to heat the incoming fresh air so that you have fresh warm air. Many passive ventilation systems utilise positive pressure from wind to encourage air movement through the building. 

The effect of not having good quality air in the home is dramatic. The average person spends 90% of their time indoors and 70% of this time is spent in their own home. The indoor living environment is therefore crucial to the health of the occupants. 

There are three main methods of whole home ventilation systems:

MEV or Mechanical Extract Ventilation are systems that provide continuous ventilation. The centralised systems draw moisture-laden air from multiple wet rooms of a property. All our Mechanical Extract Ventilation (MEV) systems are reliable, long-lasting and operate at low noise levels. 

Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) systems create fresh and healthy living environments by supplying fresh, filtered air into a property at a continuous rate throughout a property. 

PIV Systems work by ensuring the movement of air from inside a property to outside from a unit. The PIV unit circulates fresh filtered air into the property at a continuous rate, encouraging movement of air and reducing excess moisture which can cause condensation and damp.

Passive Stack Ventilation - Passive stack ventilation (PSV) is the most effective natural ventilation strategy as it uses a combination of cross ventilation, buoyancy (warm air rising) and the venturi (wind passing over the terminals causing suction) effect.

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

10 Tips to Improve Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality in Your Home

1 - Get rid of condensation

58% of homeowners said that they had experienced condensation in their home. This is a particular problem in the winter months when there is a higher level of humidity. The result is that warm air, which carries more moisture than cooler air, remains trapped inside our homes.

When the heating is switched off and the air cools, this moisture condenses on cooler surfaces such as windows and walls, forming water droplets.  Condensation is often more noticeable in kitchens and bathrooms, because of the presence of moisture from baths, showers and cooking. It’s a startling fact that a typical four person household can produce up to 18 litres of moisture per day simply by cooking, washing and breathing!

Without a continuous flow of fresh air into and out of the building the relative humidity rises and the internal atmosphere quickly becomes full of moisture, which eventually leads to condensation, especially with fluctuations in temperature. After a period of this cycle continuing, the water droplets that form on colder surfaces can lead to mould growth and, in some cases, damage to the building fabric itself.

Resulting from a lack of ventilation, condensation means that your home has issues with internal air quality. Regular air changes inside the property not only reduces relative humidity and tackles condensation, it also creates a healthier indoor environment.

Condensation is not just an issue in single glazed houses either. Over 85 per cent of homeowners who contact us have double glazed windows, which just shows that one of the causes of condensation is down to a lack of ventilation.

So what can you do about condensation? Well if it’s a problem in just one or two rooms, particularly the kitchen or bathroom, you could consider a low energy usage extractor fan, such as Cylone7.  This is designed to control humidity levels in kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms using low energy consumption.

2 - Take a whole house approach to ventilation

If you find that you’re experiencing mould and condensation across a number of rooms in the house, then Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) may be a good option to consider. 

PIV units can be installed into any home. They work by drawing in fresh, filtered clean air from the loftspace in a house or from outside in a flat or apartment.

This fresh air is gently supplied into the home from a central position on a landing or the central hallway in a flat or bungalow. Moisture levels are controlled through PIV because it dilutes high levels of humidity, whilst forcing moisture laden air to outside. The result is significantly less condensation and mould.

We’d recommend condensation control units, such as the Mr Venty® range of condensation control units, which are designed to transform a stagnant and stale atmosphere into a fresh, healthy and condensation-free environment. What’s more, because temperatures are around 3°C warmer in your loft space than outside, the Mr Venty ECO2 products take advantage of this ‘solar gain’ to distribute this into the home, resulting in energy savings.

3 - Make sure carpets are cleaned or consider hard floors

Carpets are known for being a haven for dirt, dust mites, hair and fungus, which may potentially aggravate breathing related conditions, such as asthma and bronchial attacks, as well as hay fever and eczema. 

If you have a carpet in the bathroom or kitchen that regularly becomes wet from bathing and cooking, it’s worth considering changing to a covering such as tiles or laminate, to eliminate the perfect breeding ground for dust mites, mould, fungi and other nasties. If you do want to stick with carpet, then it’s important to make sure it is thoroughly cleaned regularly, and that you keep the space well ventilated to keep relative humidity down.

4 - Reduce the triggers of asthma or allergies

Asthma affects 5 million people in the UK every year. One of the ways asthma is triggered is through household dust mites and their detritus which flourish in damp, mouldy conditions.

Living in bedding, carpets and other soft furnishings, they thrive in homes that don’t have adequate ventilation and where relative humidity is high.  When this detritus comes into contact with skin or is inhaled, it can cause allergic reactions, resulting in asthma attacks, eczema, watering eyes, itching, sneezing and a runny nose. 

One of the best ways of tackling house dust mites is to reduce relative humidity by installing an energy efficient ventilation system. This considerably reduces the ability of the dust mite population to grow and contaminate the living environment.

5 - Stop the mould!

More than 1 in 5 homes in the UK suffer with mould growth. It’s a horrible thing that no one wants, but can be difficult to get rid of.   It’s not a good idea to simply paint over mould, as the chances are it will continue to appear time and time again.

Mould is a kind of fungus that develops from airborne spores. It prefers to grow in warm, damp conditions where there isn’t much airflow and because of that bathrooms and kitchens often suffer the worst.

As with many issues around indoor air quality, the majority of mould problems within the home are mainly caused by humid conditions and lack of ventilation.

Mould, because it produces airborne spores, is an allergen and irritant, which is well known for triggering respiratory problems. Not only does it look unsightly, but mould can also affect your physical well being, leaving you with a headache or feeling tired or sick. 

Again a good whole house ventilation system would help prevent issues of mould occurring, with the main options being a PIV (Positive Input Ventilation) system or MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) system.

6 - Don’t use hair-sprays or spray-on deodorants

The less pollutants and toxins that you release into the home, the better, which is why hair sprays and spray-on deodorants are best avoided. The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) recently revealed that there are up to 900 chemicals in indoor air.  There are a number of different ways that you can dilute the contaminants in your home, directly from a single room, or whole house, using an effective ventilation system.

7 - Detox your home!

Did you know that your home’s indoor environment could be significantly more polluted and harmful than outdoors?

A recent independent study of 122 homes found that poor air quality could be responsible for triggering respiratory and dermatological conditions such as asthma and allergies. The study also found that 91 per cent of homes had above the recommended levels of indoor pollutants. This can be caused by a lack of ventilation within the home that allows the build up of noxious fumes, which are detrimental to health. 

8 - Dry your washing outside

Drying washing on a radiator inside your home creates condensation and also prevents your heating system from working efficiently. This is also a reason why condensation and mould growth is accelerated during the winter months.

According to a recent report by MEARU, 87 per cent of us dry out clothes indoors and from just one load of washing, two litres of water will be emitted into the air.

If this is your only option, then make sure your windows are open just slightly to allow the moisture laden air to escape before it forms condensation on a cooler surface. 

9 - Don’t suffer in summer!

If anyone in your family suffers from hay fever it’s always a temptation to keep windows firmly closed in the high pollen summer months. Of course, that leads to a hot, stuffy house and in these situations, an MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) system may provide the best solution.

An MVHR system is able to recover around 90 per cent of the heat from the outgoing stale air, before supplying it back into the house as warm, fresh and, crucially for hay fever sufferers, filtered air. The heat energy is recovered in a heat exchange cell within the MVHR unit.

In the high pollen months, it is possible to bypass the heat exchange cell so that it extracts warm air from inside the house and feeds in cooler air from outside. And because of the high performance filters, it keeps pollen in check, which means welcome relief for hay fever sufferers and a wonderfully fresh internal environment - whilst windows remain firmly shut.

Many homeowners like it because keeping windows closed gives them better security from potential intruders!

10 - If you are worried about the air quality in your home, get it tested!

If you are experiencing condensation or mould issues within your home, then we can help. An experienced ventilation expert can carry out a Home Health Check, photos will be taken, temperatures will be recorded and weather conditions will be monitored. All this data is gathered along with your responses to our simple questionnaire, in order to create your personal home report.