Represented by the “V” in HVAC, ventilation is an important part of your home’s climate control. Proper ventilation promotes better humidity regulation, minimizes the risk of back-drafting, and allows for cleaner, fresher-smelling indoor air. Although many homeowners in Commerce City, CO are working hard to create airtight living spaces, there are many health benefits in having a properly ventilated home.

Clear Out Gaseous Chemical Contaminants

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), your indoor air could be up to five times more contaminated than the air outside. Although homeowners add many gaseous chemical contaminants to their indoor air by discharging room freshening sprays, self-care products, and surface cleaners, buildings and building materials release gaseous toxins of their own.

Off-gassing building materials like unsealed particle board, flooring adhesives, and paint constantly release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), especially during the first five years that follow installation. Worse still, standard HVAC air filters can’t capture and retain contaminants like these.

Ventilation ushers these contaminants out through induction. Tiny gaps and cracks in building materials let stale, toxin-addled air out and fresh, outdoor air in. However, with consumers adding more insulation, weatherstripping, and caulking to seal this natural airflow off, VOCs often have nowhere to go and residents’ health suffers. The good news is that you can still maintain a sufficiently tight home envelope while properly ventilating your living space by taking advantage of options in upgraded mechanical ventilation.

Keep Exhaust Gases Headed in the Right Direction

With an overly airtight home, you run the risk of breathing dangerous exhaust gases like carbon monoxide (CO) in. Carbon monoxide is a natural byproduct of incomplete fuel combustion. This colorless, odorless gas replaces oxygen in blood cells to cause serious symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, and confusion. Moreover, prolonged CO exposure can prove fatal.

Airtight homes are at risk of developing negative air pressure when HVAC systems are in use. Even something as simple as turning on a bathroom exhaust fan or your range hood vent could create the conditions for a back-draft. With back-drafting, buildings draw harmful exhaust gases like CO down exhaust vents until negative air pressure is corrected. If you have a fuel-burning furnace, stove, or water heater installed, proper ventilation will keep its harmful emissions moving in the right direction.

Minimize the Risk of Radon Exposure

Carbon monoxide isn’t the only harmful gas you need to worry about. According to the EPA, radon is a radioactive gas that naturally forms when radioactive metals break down in soil or groundwater. Radon enters homes via leaky slabs, foundational cracks, and sump pump pits. It can find its way into your living space via floor-to-wall joints, crawlspaces, and other access points.

Although having limited amounts of radon in your indoor air is fairly normal, whenever this gas exceeds 4 picocuries per liter of air, human health is compromised. Prolonged radon exposure greatly increases the risk of lung cancer, even for non-smokers. Radon exposure can also cause unpleasant symptoms like wheezing, persistent coughs, and shortness of breath.

Making sure that your home is well-ventilated helps keep indoor radon levels at a minimum. However, it’s also important to find and seal slab leaks and make sure that sump pumps are securely capped.

Prevent Problems With Mildew and Mold

Tightly sealed homes often have indoor moisture problems. If your home isn’t getting enough natural airflow, you might have condensation-covered windows and windowsills, damp drywall and floorboards, and rank, musty odors. As per the EPA, it’s best to keep indoor humidity between 30% and 50%. However, if this proves an unreasonable target, you should at least keep your indoor humidity below 60%. At humidity levels of 61% or higher, mold spores flourish.

Airing out your home by periodically opening your windows and doors is one way to keep both excess humidity and mold at bay. It’s also important to regularly clean and use built-in mechanical ventilation such as bathroom exhaust fans and range hood vents and perform routine HVAC air filter changes. However, if your indoor humidity remains consistently high, you may need additional interventions. Installing whole-house dehumidification equipment or investing in an energy-recovery ventilator (ERV) will greatly enhance your humidity control.

We take the “V” in HVAC seriously. We’re committed to helping residents of Commerce City, CO protect their homes and their health. We offer outstanding heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality services. We also supply, install, and maintain heat pumps and ductless mini-split systems. To find out about our options in residential ventilation, get in touch with Smith & Willis Heating & Air Conditioning now.

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