Ventilation Systems: Say Goodbye to Stale Air

by Jon Nunan

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The level of air quality in your home can definitely make a difference in your household. Stale air or potent smells can make any place less appealing. In some instances, better air quality can mean better health, as well. Homes that have poor air circulation are more likely to store pollutants, and enough stored pollutants can be a hazard. Since the house as we know it is becoming more air tight, installing a ventilation system is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity.

Natural Ventilation
Due to less effective insulation and higher numbers of gaps and drafts, older homes tend to "breathe" a bit more than newer constructions. This is, of course, bad news when it comes to heating and cooling costs. This free flow of interior and exterior air, however, is actually desirable when it comes to air quality. The more air exchange is present, the better the chances are that the air quality will be satisfactory.

The more energy-efficient a house is, however, the less likely it will be that this frequent, natural air exchange will be present. This is why many newer houses need to rely on a mechanical ventilation system to do the job.

Common Placement for Ventilation Systems
Certainly, the most common rooms in the home to make use of a mechanical ventilation system are the bathroom and the kitchen. Here the system is generally not in place to reduce air contaminates, but to lessen unappealing smells and moisture. Bathroom and kitchen ventilation systems are designed to pull out unwanted air that could otherwise get trapped in the house. Anyone with a love of pan-fried fish knows what happens when that smell is allowed to linger.

Some homes are equipped with a ventilation system that is designed to regularly circulate air throughout the house and replace it with fresh outdoor air. Modern forms of these whole home systems work automatically and regulate temperature and humidity, too.

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Air Purification
Some ventilation systems come equipped with an air purifier. These devices are designed to filter out dust, pollen, and mold spores, as well as reduce the concentration of manmade air pollutants. They make an excellent choice for anyone who suffers allergies or lives in an area that is subjected to a lot of car exhaust. Stand alone air purifiers are also available that can be placed in any room and simply plugged into a conventional socket.

Ventilation Systems by Climate
It might sound like a bad idea to pump hot outside air into a home in mid-summer or expel warm, heated air from a home and out into a winter night (we're not heating the outside, right?). Contemporary ventilation systems, however, are made to increase air exchange while complimenting energy-efficiency and room temperature. If you live in a cooler climate, the ventilation system you choose should be designed to retain the moisture and temperature of indoor air before it is sent outside. Those in warmer climates will benefit from a system that reduces the moisture (and therefore humidity) of the air that comes in from the outdoors.

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.