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Due to the energy crisis in the 1970's, Canadian building methods have made homes more energy efficient.  This is great news for our energy bills and the environment, but now costs us in our home's natural ventilation to and from the outdoors.  We know that even outdoor air is not always healthy either, but the idea is to have 'new, fresh air' rather than 'recycled, stale air' in our homes at all times.  
Living in these modern days allows us to embrace many conveniences like durable building products, personal items such as hairsprays, perfumes and air fresheners and super-strength cleaning products, which increase the level of chemicals we breathe on a daily basis to epidemic proportions. The average home has 1,500 hazardous compounds from approximately 3,000 man-made products in it at any given time.  This creates our need for additional ventilation to what the average new home has to offer.

Ventilation helps to lower concentrations of indoor air pollutants by supplying fresh air from the outside while removing stale air from the inside.  An inexpensive way to increase ventilation in and out of your home, when the weather allows you to, is to open windows and doors or use fans.  This isn’t always practical to do, due to hot, cold or damp weather, plus the need to be there at the time, so the need for other alternatives have become necessary. 

Ventilation equipment is as crucial to your house as a furnace or water heater.   An HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) is a self-contained ventilation system designed to provide a balanced intake and exhaust to and from your home and can be ducted to various rooms in the home (especially kitchens and washrooms).  It is usually installed in the basement with intake and exhaust openings made to the outdoors by a professional into the home's foundation.  This not only exhausts the moist and stale air that a regular exhaust fan does, but also brings in fresh air from outdoors.  It is like having your windows open 24 hours a day without all of the heat / cooling loss (recovers up to 80%), and although more expensive than some indoor air quality products, is by far one of the most important. 

Exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms can also help get humidity and contaminants like chemicals from household products to the outside, but ensure that these fans are vented outdoors and not into the attic.  Exhaust fans in the bathroom in particular are very important because nearly 75% of the water used in the home is in the bathroom and therefore it is vital to have an air vent to remove the humid air from this area. 

The one problem with running exhaust fans is that adding negative pressure to the home causes depressurization, so you could never run them continuously. This means that the air from the home is being 'sucked' out, but where from? The negative pressure draws from any space open to the outdoors. If your windows are open, it's fine, as outdoor air will be drawn into the home. If they are not, however, air will be drawn as in the diagram from chimney flues, furnaces and water heaters, which can lead to combustible gases to be drawn into your home... not the healthiest of things to be breathing.

The use of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are important to ensure combustion appliances are venting properly and always seek professional advice when installing a new ventilation system.

For more information on your home's ventilation system, or to add healthy ventilation to your home, call Home Heroes today!
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