Maintaining indoor air quality is important for the health and safety of building occupants, pets, and the structure itself. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are three primary ways to improve indoor air quality. First, you must remove sources of pollution. Next, increase ventilation. Finally, use air cleaners and other equipment to help purify air.

Ventilation moves air in and out of rooms and buildings and exchanges fresh outdoor air with stale or polluted indoor air. Improving airflow and filtering indoor air dilutes concentrations of pollutants or completely removes them. Harmful pollutants include biological pathogens, pollen, other allergens, chemicals, and gases. Houses built to be more airtight for better energy efficiency often need mechanical ventilation to achieve adequate air exchange.

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractor can help. The “V” in HVAC stands for ventilation, a component of indoor comfort, climate control, and safety. At [company name], we offer indoor air quality services that improve ventilation, remove pollutants, and help keep the air in your home fresh and clean. We recommend natural and mechanical ways to improve ventilation, such as using exhaust fans, opening windows and doors when appropriate, and adding whole-home mechanical ventilators to your HVAC system. Our recommendations are tailored to address the unique conditions in your home and ensure adequate air exchange.

Importance of Ventilation

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that people in the U.S. spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. Research shows that indoor air can be up to five times as polluted as outdoor air. Ventilation expels polluted air from indoor spaces and replaces it with fresh outdoor air, which helps maintain good indoor air quality in buildings.

Poor ventilation allows toxic gases, pathogens, and other pollutants to accumulate indoors. Normal household activities generate pollutants that can degrade indoor air quality. Cleaning products, craft supplies, pesticides, and cooking create harmful gases that compromise indoor air quality. In addition, poor ventilation allows the buildup of moisture, which creates an environment for mold, mildew, dust mites, and pests to thrive.

Studies show that people in a typical household release approximately three gallons of water each day through breathing and perspiration. In addition, bathing, washing dishes, and laundering clothing add humidity. The humid climate of the Tampa area also contributes to indoor moisture problems. Excess moisture can ruin insulation, make heating and cooling equipment work harder and damage the structural components of a building.

Dangerous gases, bacteria, viruses, dust, pollen, and other pollutants can build up inside poorly ventilated buildings. Some pollutants, such as pollen and dust, can aggravate health problems. Others, including volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide, can cause health problems, including respiratory issues, heart disease and cancer, depending on the type of pollutant and length of exposure.

Your HVAC system is a primary factor in controlling indoor humidity, circulating air, and adding ventilation. Ducted HVAC systems are calibrated to refresh air and maintain air velocity throughout rooms connected to the ducts. Your HVAC contractor will test the rate of air exchange during a tune-up or when making repairs and recommend ways to improve ventilation if problems are noted. You can discuss ways to monitor indoor air quality, control humidity and increase airflow throughout the living space.

Types of Ventilation

Natural ventilation is simply opening doors and windows to allow fresh air to enter the building. Coastal architecture is often designed to take advantage of natural ventilation and the cool ocean air. Cross ventilation pulls air in through one side of the building and expels it on the other side. Stack ventilation relies on cool air entering the building’s lower levels and gaining heat as it travels through the living space. Because hot air rises, it exits through the ceiling or upper-story windows. Because it is not always safe or practical to open windows and doors, other types of ventilation are also used to refresh the indoor air.

Mechanical ventilation uses fans and other devices to circulate air within a building and transfer air between indoors and outside. Types of mechanical ventilation include the following:

  • Ceiling fans
  • Window fans
  • Exhaust fans
  • Whole-house fans
  • Energy-recovery and heat-recovery ventilators
  • Fans on HVAC systems

Ceiling fans circulate air within rooms. By increasing air circulation, they create a wind-chill effect, displace warm air around our bodies and enhance evaporation of perspiration. They can be used in tandem with HVAC systems or as independent cooling and ventilation devices.

Window fans can exhaust hot air from inside a building or pull cool air into a building from outside depending on how they are positioned. However, on hot, humid days, opening doors and windows creates an uncomfortable indoor environment. A single fan helps circulate air within a room. If you rely on air conditioning for cooling, windows must be closed while the system operates. Placing fans on the floor, walls, or tabletops throughout the house increases airflow, which creates a breeze that contributes to a comfortable living space.

Exhaust fans remove warm, humid air from bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and other spaces that generate moisture and heat. However, they also release conditioned air from rooms that are attached to an HVAC system. Exhaust fans should be vented to the outside and not into the attic because they expel moisture that can damage insulation or cause other problems.

Whole-house ventilation fans pull outdoor air into and through the home. Supply ventilation systems, appropriate for warmer climates, pressurize a building, forcing outside air in and pushing inside air out through cracks and holes in the building shell and vents. Simple whole-house fans do not heat, cool, or remove humidity. Instead, they refresh the air and enhance airflow throughout the building. They prevent backdrafting of gases created by the combustion of appliances.

Mechanical Ventilation With HVAC Systems

HVAC systems use fans to blow conditioned air into the living space. Fans set on automatic run only when the system is on. Setting fans to “On” instead of “Auto” allows them to run continuously even when the compressor is off.

Whole-house energy-recovery and heat-recovery ventilators work with the HVAC system to transfer air between indoors and outdoors. Both types minimize energy loss while bringing in fresh air. Components include a heat exchanger, fans, and controls. They work with ducted systems, either sharing existing ducts or having their own ducts.

In energy-recovery ventilators, the heat exchanger transfers heat energy and water vapor. In humid climates, energy-recovery systems may offer better moisture control when using air conditioning. An ERV reduces indoor humidity, which reduces the load on your air conditioner while maintaining a comfortable living space. They recover approximately 70% to 80% of the energy in the outgoing air and transfer that to the incoming air.

In heat-recovery ventilators, the heat exchanger only transfers heat energy, which is more advantageous in colder climates. Because they do not transfer humidity with heat energy, HRVs keep your home more comfortable during winter months. They capture approximately 70% of the heat energy of the stale, outgoing air and transfer it to the incoming air.

If your home lacks adequate ventilation, our professionals at [company name] can help. Schedule a consultation, and we’ll inspect your existing system and talk with you about your indoor comfort needs. Our recommendations will take into consideration your lifestyle and budget.

We offer new installations, preventive maintenance, HVAC repairs, indoor air quality solutions, duct cleaning, duct sealing, and electrical services. We work with all brands of HVAC equipment and back our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Give us a call at [company name] today.

Meet the Author

company icon