3 Types of Ventilation That Can Keep Your North Carolina Home Comfortable

Posted on: December 24, 2014

types of ventilationWith the holidays finally upon us, you’re probably getting ready to entertain a slew of guests in your North Carolina home. It may be too late to do anything about it this time around, but now is a good time to take notice of how ventilation and airflow can make your house more comfortable for you and your guests in the future.

With a well-planned ventilation system, you’ll enjoy fresh indoor air and stay comfortable year round, despite North Carolina’s frequent high humidity. You’ll also protect your home from the mold and deterioration problems that arise from moisture buildup. If you’re looking for ways to improve airflow in your home, take the time to learn a little about your options before you choose.

Exhaust-Only Systems

These systems use motorized fans to vent stale air out of your home to the outdoors. In most homes, the fans are installed only in the bathroom and kitchen, and sometimes in the basement and garage. Their job is to remove the short-term buildup of humidity or odors caused by activities such as showering and cooking.

Although they help, their effectiveness is too limited to provide airflow throughout your whole home. Not only do they remove relatively small quantities of air, they also shouldn’t be left running for long periods. An exhaust fan helps only as long as the air quality indoors is worse than outdoors. Once the built-up odor or humidity is gone, though, the small amount of outdoor humidity and air contaminants these fans let in will worsen your air quality.

What’s more, these systems don’t include a method for bringing in an amount of filtered fresh air that’s equal to the amount of air it removes. The intention is for replacement air to enter either through open windows and doors or through small air leaks around your windows, doors and other places.

When air is removed from the building but not replaced in an efficient manner, you’ll have negative air pressure inside. This effectively causes the building to suck in outdoor air. Because that air is coming through air leaks, it’s unfiltered and brings in dust, pollen, mold spores and other contaminants.

Supply-Only Systems

Supply-only systems use fans to bring in a controlled amount of filtered fresh air from outdoors and ducts to distribute that air evenly throughout your home. You’ll get a regular, sufficient supply of air and avoid the problem of negative indoor air pressure. The downside is that your exhaust vents are still the only way you can remove stale air.

Supply-only systems can be designed in three different ways:

  • Central-fan integrated supply (CFIS) – The most basic type of CFIS consists of a duct that brings air in from outdoors into your heating and cooling system’s air handler. This air mixes with the heated or cooled air produced by your system and is pushed out into the ductwork to your individual rooms. Although it’s simple and low cost to install, it only works when you’re heating or cooling. During mild weather, you’re not getting any ventilation.
  • Standalone supply – This system uses its own separate fan so you can run it even when you’re not running the furnace or air conditioner. During cold or hot weather, however, you won’t want to bring in outdoor air without mixing it with your heated or cooled indoor air. To accomplish this, a standalone supply system uses three ducts to draw in, mix and distribute the fresh air.
  • Ventilating dehumidifier – In our humid climate, this type of system can not only help you freshen your air, but can also alleviate indoor humidity problems. It’s essentially a standalone supply system, but it also contains a dehumidifier for added effectiveness against moisture.

Balanced Systems

These whole-house ventilation systems are designed with both supply fans and exhaust fans, as well as ducts that remove stale air from each room and bring fresh air in. You’ll no longer have to rely on open windows or air leaks for airflow, which improves your home’s energy efficiency.

Of course, with this constant flow of indoor air out and outdoor air in, you need a way to maintain a comfortable, stable indoor temperature. Balanced ventilation systems with heat exchangers help you do this. These come in two forms:

  • Heat recovery ventilator (HRV) – The heat exchanger in this system pulls warmth from either the incoming or outgoing airstream, depending on the weather, and moves it into the other. This saves your indoor heat in winter and keeps the heat out in summer.
  • Energy recovery ventilator (ERV) – This system moves moisture as well as heat, keeping out the humidity in the summer air and removing some of the humidity that can build up inside in winter.

For help choosing and installing an efficient ventilation system, contact us at Air Experts. We service homeowners in Raleigh, Cary, Holly Springs, Chapel Hill, Garner and the surrounding areas.

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