Let Air Flow In: Types of Ventilation Systems for Private Houses

Home ventilation is a crucial, but frequently disregarded component of a healthy home. However, whether you are building a brand-new house from the ground up or remodeling an existing one, home ventilation needs to be taken into account from the very beginning of your project. So what do we mean when we talk about house ventilation?

Typically, ventilation in a home refers to the process of removing air and replacing it with outside air that is fresher. In addition to removing moist air that might cause problems like condensation and dampness, ventilation ensures that your home feels fresh and comfortable. Home ventilation can take many different forms, and frequently it will not rely just on one. Additionally, the Building Regulations in the UK specify the ventilation standards for new construction, so if you are looking into installing a ventilation system to a new addition to your house or to an existing part of your property, you should take your time to acquaint yourself with them.

Merits of Proper Ventilation

In order to maintain a healthy atmosphere in your private property, adequate ventilation is necessary because it:

  • Avoids the accumulation of excess humidity, which can lead to condensation, mold and can consequently result to health issues;
  • Gives fuel-burning devices, like log fireplaces, air to breathe
  • Eliminates odors from cooking, and in some cases, it can help remove irritants and allergies like tobacco smoke.

Draughts, airbricks, trickling vents, and other forms of uncontrolled ventilation are combined with controlled ventilation techniques like mechanical ventilation with heat recovery to ventilate buildings. Passive ventilation is another option that must be considered during design if types of active ventilation do not seem to work well with the plans you have for your house.

In this article, we will help you become familiar with types of ventilation technologies available for your home to make it safe and well aired.

Uncontrolled Ventilation

In essence, uncontrolled ventilation is ventilation that is never off. It is always on and works from the moment it is installed. Air bricks and trickle vents have been the go-to solution for many older homes. They are simple to install, in compliance with Part F of the Building Regulations, and commonly known by builders, thus making installing this type of ventilation relatively easy.

They can sustain the home’s ventilation relatively well; however, there are a few specificities:

  • The home might not be adequately ventilated through this type of a system if there is no wind, and vice versa, if the wind is blowing strongly;
  • Outside the chamber any sort of obstruction like dirt, debris, or plants might block the airflow, thus chamber accessibility must be regularly maintained;
  • To enable cross ventilation, internal doors must be left open to let air travel through the house;
  • To enable ventilation, trickle vents must be left in the open position.

When picking a ventilation system for your private house, you must remember that uncontrolled ventilation can cause odors and wet air to spread throughout the house, frequently condensing in or on the building’s structure. This may affect the long-term structural integrity of the building materials or even result in health problems from humidity, such as dust mites and mold, and poses a serious concern that should not be ignored.

Controlled Ventilation

Home ventilation systems that are dynamic and use fans to create either positive or negative pressure are the most adjustable. It is often the case that ductwork that is implemented for this type of ventilation has been meticulously built and is used to balance the system throughout the building. The ventilation “must-have” for self-build projects is whole house mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR). However, not all new homes are suited for such systems, and we will expand upon more on this at a later point in the article.

These systems have two separate, fan-equipped ducted airflows. The first part of this system includes an extract fan that removes the wet rooms’ stale, muggy air. It is best suited for rooms like bathrooms, kitchens and utility rooms of different functionality. Before being released outside the house, this stale air is passed over a heat exchange matrix, where heat is “recovered.” It is then that the second fan pulls in outside air. This second fan then filters it to remove pollutants and airborne allergens before passing it over a heat exchange matrix to warm it. As a result, all of the living spaces and bedrooms receive fresh air that has already been warmed.  

Improved air quality is one of MVHR’s main advantages. Such systems are also very helpful for allergy sufferers since they remove pollution and airborne allergens like pollen. However, not all new homes are a good fit for MVHR systems. The effectiveness of the MVHR system will increase with the airtightness of the home. As a result, your new home needs to be adequately airtight to guarantee that a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system will function effectively.

Alternatively Controlled Ventilation Systems

A central ventilation system may be employed if installing a network of ducts inside the house is not practical, as is frequently the case when remodeling a property where it may be challenging to retrofit owing to space constraints.

These are primarily of two types:

  • positive input ventilation;
  • ventilation using a mechanical extract.

Both of these systems depend on the system’s and the building’s envelope’s design to provide a uniform airflow and prevent any “blank spots” within the building.  Positive input ventilation is mostly used for existing residences that have a loft area. The system softly introduces fresh, filtered air into the building through a distribution diffuser positioned in the ceiling and a device installed in the loft area. The central unit collects air from the loft or the outside, filters it, and then distributes it inside the building. This creates a positive pressure that pushes the stale air outside.

Passive Ventilation

There are passive ventilation methods that offer better air movement and efficiency than trickling vents and air bricks since they rely on the prevailing wind or natural buoyancy to move the air instead of active fans. Warm air rises, thus it is possible to harness this inherent buoyancy to transfer warm, stale air upward by placing precisely planned extract vents at high elevation. Fresh air is provided by a low-level air intake. In a manner similar to active heat recovery systems, the evacuated stale air can be routed through a particular heat exchanger to recover heat.

Prevailing Wind Systems

Custom “split chimneys” for prevailing wind systems are erected in exposed places, including on the roof. The chimney has two sides, one that takes air out of the building and the other that draws air in. Air is forced into the property by the windward side’s positive pressure, and the leeward side’s negative pressure produces the extract.

In the absence of wind, the system will have to rely solely on natural buoyancy. It has a heat exchanger to recover heat and dampers to avoid over-ventilation.

And this concludes a very compelling list of ventilation systems available for installation in your private houses. We hope that, with the help of information from this article, you are now more aware of your options and, with the help of your architects and construction team, you will make the best decision for your home that will make it a better, fresher and healthier place to be in!

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