Posted on November 24, 2014

ventilationAlong with air conditioning, good airflow in your home is a big part of what makes the Amarillo area’s hot summers bearable. In winter, ventilation prevents moisture problems that could lead to damaging mold growth.

Just as homes and lifestyles vary, so do ventilation methods. If you’re looking for a way to improve your home’s airflow, there are three types of ventilation you’ll want to get acquainted with before you choose one.

Exhaust-Only: Useful, But Rarely Sufficient

Because most building codes require it, this is one of the most common types of ventilation around. The fans in your kitchen, bathroom and garage are examples of exhaust ventilation. They’re ideal for quickly clearing odors after cooking and humidity after you take a shower.

On the other hand, because they’re intended to be used for a few minutes at a time, they’re not capable of providing whole-house ventilation. This is partly because they leave you to rely on open windows and air leaks to let in fresh air and partly because the fans themselves let in small amounts of unfiltered outdoor air. Run them for long periods and you’ll worsen your indoor air quality by letting in outdoor air pollutants and humidity.

The problem isn’t just the air the fans themselves let in. As they draw air from your home, they create negative air pressure in the building. This turns your home into a vacuum that sucks in outdoor air through cracks around the windows, doors, baseboards, and other parts of your home. That air, too, is unfiltered. When the humidity and mold spores it carries get into your building’s structure, this greatly increases the potential for damaging mold growth.

Supply-Only Ventilation Offers You More Control

Supply systems are among the simplest types of ventilation for ensuring good whole-house airflow. These systems bring in fresh outdoor air using fans and a duct system. That means you can control exactly how much air enters your home and filter the incoming air.

The system’s ductwork distributes the incoming air, ensuring it mixes well with the existing indoor air, so you’ll enjoy fresh air throughout your home. Supply systems also solve the negative air pressure problem, reducing your risk of mold formation.

Supply-only systems are available in three main forms.

Central-fan-integrated supply (CFIS) – This design is the most common and the simplest. The most basic form requires installing a duct that draws outdoor air into your furnace air handler‘s return side. The fresh air then passes through the heating or cooling system and is distributed out to your rooms through your existing duct system.

The downside is that you’ll only get fresh air when either your furnace or air conditioner is running. During mild weather when you don’t need to heat or cool, you won’t be ventilating.

Standalone – This system uses its own fan to bring in fresh air, so it can run when you’re not heating or cooling. Even so, the incoming air must be mixed with your indoor air to prevent uncomfortable drafts and temperature swings. To do this, a standalone system uses an additional duct.

Ventilating dehumidifier – Essentially a standalone system with a dehumidifier, this design is used primarily in humid climates.

Balanced Ventilation Systems: The Best of Both Worlds

Balanced systems are among the most effective types of ventilation for improving indoor air quality. In its simplest form, a balanced ventilation system uses both exhaust fans and supply fans to remove stale indoor air while bringing in an equal amount of filtered fresh outdoor air.

Because these systems use ductwork running throughout your home, they improve the air quality in all your rooms. While this design keeps your air clean, without additional equipment, it makes it hard to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

To keep your temperatures consistent and control your energy bills, a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV) may be an option. At the heart of a HRV sits a heat exchanger that moves heat between the incoming and outgoing air streams. In winter, it captures heat from the outgoing indoor air and transfers it to warm up the incoming outdoor air. In summer, it transfers heat out of the incoming air.

Thinking about adding whole-house ventilation to your home? Contact us at Grizzle Heating & Air in Amarillo, Canyon, and Hereford for tips and help with installation.

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