What Are The Various Ventilation Options?

Today with increased thrust upon airtight homes for maximum efficiency of heating and cooling devices, the need has also been felt about proper ventilation. Ventilation implies a supply of fresh air inside the house which will replace the stale air inside. The need for ventilating was not acute in the past. This was because the old houses were leaky and fresh air could easily enter through all the gaps, cracks, and holes in the building envelope. Moreover the houses in the past were made mostly of natural materials which would not cause offgassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, flame retardants, and other chemicals.

Ventilation is one of the pivotal factors in building design. A poorly ventilated house may encounter problems of poor health of the residents. This is on account of presence of excess moisture and stale air or low air volume inside. Moisture will dampen the walls inside the house and affect the furniture as well as other belongings. People can contract chronic cold. Airlessness will cause build-up of pollutants in the indoor air.

A mechanical ventilation system constantly replaces the stale air inside with fresh air from outside. With such a ventilation system you will not need to depends on open windows or draughts which also present a security risk. Let’s take look at various options in ventilation-

Ventilation options-

No ventilation


This is was found in most home in the past. There was no mechanical ventilation system in the house to remove the stale air and allow the flow fresh air from outside. In past when buildings were mostly leaky and were not insulated, this system worked well. But even if the house is leaky the system may not work well. It depends on a crucial factor that is there is a significant difference in temperature between outdoor and indoor air or a layer of breeze surrounds the house. These conditions would generate the difference in pressure that will drive wind inside the house. On calm days in the spring and summer, there might be very little air exchange even in a really leaky house.

Natural ventilation


This is quite an uncommonly used strategy where certain designs are incorporated in the building’s structure to facilitate ventilation. One such example is to use solar chimney. In this case the air near the chimney will be heated by the sun. This generates a column of rising warm air, drawing in air from the rest of the house. The warm air being lighter will escape from the chimney. It will soon be replaced by fresh air that will get inside through specially placed inlet ports. This kind of ventilation is also called stack ventilation.

Passive ventilation

In this system the process just works without incorporating any design in the building or fitting a mechanical ventilation system. You keep your windows open to allow ventilation. However in this context you should remember the two opposites windows should be kept open on the same floor or one in the top and another in the bottom floor almost facing each other to allow the air move freely between the two.

Exhaust-only mechanical ventilation

This is a low cost ventilation system that uses exhaust fans that are fitted in bathrooms, kitchens or in the utility rooms. These fans run continuously or intermittently to pull out stale air and moisture that have generated inside. This cause pressure difference and allow the fresh air outside to gush inside the house through leakage sites or through strategically placed inlets. A notable disadvantage of this system is that radon and other soil gases get in that we don’t want in houses.

Supply-only mechanical ventilation


In this type on ventilation fans are used to pull in fresh air from outside to a specific area and then it is distributed throughout the house with a ductwork. The stale air inside the house escapes through the cracks and air-leakage sites in the house. This kind of ventilation will prevent radon and other contaminates from entering the house. However it can force moisture-laden air into wall and ceiling cavities where condensation and moisture problems can occur.

Balanced ventilation

These have two separate fans. One of these is responsible for driving fresh air from outside into the rooms. The other propels stale air outside the house. The system can control where the fresh air comes from, where that fresh air is delivered, and from where exhaust air is drawn. These systems can both be ducted as well as point-source. If you have ducted system, then it can be effectively used to ventilate mostly occupied quarters like living rooms and bed rooms etc.

Balanced ventilation with heat recovery


A heat recovery ventilator is balanced ventilator which also has an air-to-air heat exchanger. The exchanger transfers heat from the outgoing stream to the incoming stream. The system has narrow alternating passages through which the airstreams flow. The heat is transferred to colder stream from the hotter one without the airstreams getting mixed themselves. In the summer months, the heat from the incoming air is transferred to exhaust air. As a result only cooler air gets inside. Just the opposite process happens in winter

Energy recovery ventilator


This is just like a heat recovery ventilator with an additional feature. In this besides heat moisture is also transferred from one stream to the other. As a result it helps to maintain an optimum level of humidity in the house.

 

 

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