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The Importance of Ventilation

With another Houston summer on the way, it’s important to understand why ventilation is essential in keeping the air healthy and comfortable in your home. A Houston summer is not only hot, it can also be extremely humid – impacting the air inside regardless of your central air system. Most modern homes are well insulated and sealed, which is good for energy efficiency, but bad for indoor air quality. Tight homes can lock in germs and airborne toxins as well as create pockets of moisture that can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. While home ventilation is important year-round, it is crucial in the summer for Houston residents. We experience some of the highest levels of humidity in the state of Texas. Understanding where and how to ventilate is key in keeping your IAQ at a healthy level throughout the summer – and the entire year.

Rooms to Ventilate

The most important room in the house requiring ventilation is arguably the bedroom. If the IAQ in a bedroom is uncomfortable, it affects sleep and the health of the household. Common Ventilation Option: Ceiling Fan (with Central Air)

The bathroom requires proper ventilation to help keep the humidity at a minimum. Water and steam can produce mold and mildew if they aren’t properly handled through ventilation. Common Ventilation Option: Exhaust Fan

A kitchen can produce humidity, smoke and food odors that can infiltrate the entire house. The smoke and food odor can exacerbate allergies and asthma; while the added humidity can wreak havoc on your home. Common Ventilation Option: Exhaust Fan

It’s important that an attic maintain the same temperature as the one outside to keep cooling bills low and to extend shingle life. Common Ventilation Option: Roof and Soffit Vents

A Houston home will probably benefit more from a supply ventilation system. These systems work similarly to exhaust fans, but are better for our humid climate and can be utilized in more than one room.

Whole-House Ventilation Systems

Exhaust Ventilation: These systems work by basically depressurizing the home. The exhaust dispenses the air from inside while replacement air is brought in through passive vents and small leaks in the house. Exhaust fans are better suited to cooler climates as the humid air can cause moisture problems in the home.

Supply Ventilation: These systems work the opposite of exhaust fans by forcing outside air into the home. This pressurizing of the building forces the indoor air through vents, range fan ducts and small leaks. These systems offer better control of the air that enters a home and minimizes outdoor pollutants. As mentioned previously, supply ventilation systems can be used in more than one room; allowing for a more balanced distribution.

Balanced Ventilation: A balanced system is exactly what it sounds like; it is one that neither pressurizes or depressurizes a home. Usually installed with two fans and two duct systems, it brings in and exhausts equal amounts of indoor and outdoor air. The installation of a balanced system is more invasive than exhaust or supply, but is more efficient than both and can be installed in every room.

Energy Recovery Ventilation: There are two types of energy recovery systems: heat-recovery ventilators (HRV) and energy-recovery ventilators (ERV). They both reduce the costs of heating and cooling by transferring the temperature of the indoor air to the outside supply air. Both systems include an exchanger and one or more fans to operate. The main difference between the two is that a heat recovery ventilator only transfers heat while energy recovery ventilator transfers a small amount of vapor with the heat energy.

While fresh air is always a great way to ventilate a home, opening a window during a Houston summer is not always an option. The best time to attempt fresh air ventilation through your windows is early morning, before sunrise. Be mindful of ozone levels – as we are consistently ranked in the top 20 for polluted cities in the U.S. Remember that Universal can assist you with all of your IAQ needs. If you feel that your home doesn’t have proper ventilation, we can offer a full IAQ assessment with a range of solutions (including whole-house ventilation). Call us today (713) 364-0226 to schedule an appointment with one of our I AQ professionals.