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CleanAir Solutions Blog

August 2017

4 Types of Ventilation and Why They Are So Critical to Indoor Air Quality

old ventilation fan

Did you know that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) considers having adequate ventilation the most important aspect of the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) model?

There are three main reasons for this. First, ventilation can improve the effectiveness of either heating or cooling. Second, ventilation is highly cost-effective. Third, ventilation also uses less energy than any other method of indoor air temperature control.

But it is also important to use the right type of ventilation at the right time of year in the right way in order to receive these three benefits.

In this article, we will review the four main types of ventilation, when and how to use them, and how they can save you money on your monthly energy bills.

4 Main Types of Ventilation and How They Work

There are four main types of ventilation systems you can use separately or together. Each has its own unique benefits that are important to recognize and use.

1. Individual room fans

Individual room fans come in a variety of configurations. You can place portable models on the floor or on a table. Mountable units can be permanently installed on a wall or ceiling.

Mountable ceiling fans generally have a toggle switch that changes the airflow for the warm and cool seasons to maximize energy efficiency.

Another way to generate individual room ventilation is to run a window A/C unit on “vent” mode, so that it pulls outside fresh air into the room without cooling it first.

Still another type of individual room fan is the exhaust fan found in many bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. These fans pull moist, stale, polluted air out of the room and exhaust it to the outside.

These fans make use of what the DOE calls the “wind chill effect” to cool the room’s occupants. In other words, an empty room with a fan running is just a waste of energy, since no one is there to feel the wind chill.

2. Whole-home fans

Whole-home fans are sometimes also called exhaust fans. They will work only when the windows are open, but have been proven to be very effective at keeping the interior cool even on very hot days.

These fans are usually mounted in the attic. They pull fresh air in through the windows and push hot, stale air out through the attic vents to keep the indoor air both fresh and cool.

3. Wind ventilation

Wind ventilation is nothing more than opening windows and/or doors to allow fresh outside air to circulate through the rooms of your home.

It can also take place through a process called “infiltration,” where fresh air sneaks in through leaks and cracks in your home itself. But the trend towards “airtight construction” for newer homes has all but eliminated this source of wind ventilation.

Not only is wind ventilation an optimal tool for cooler seasons and climates, but it also ensures your air stays oxygenated and doesn’t grow stale.

4. Heat recovery ventilators

The best and most reliable ventilation technology currently available comes in the form of the heat recovery ventilator (sometimes called the energy recovery ventilator).

This system accomplishes two critical tasks: it keeps fresh incoming air and stale outgoing air 100 percent separated so the two air streams never mix, and it naturally balances your indoor air’s humidity levels based on the season.

In this way, the heat recovery ventilator also acts as an extra layer of air filtration, removing toxins, pollutants, germs, pollens, and other unwelcome airborne visitors before they can ever reach the interior living spaces of your home.

How Ventilation Maintains Indoor Air Quality

Ventilation ties the whole HVAC system together. Without ventilation, there is no way for the indoor air to refresh and re-oxygenate itself, which is when health symptoms like memory fog, headaches, itchy respiratory passages, nasal congestion, sore throats, and illness can begin to appear.

Adequate attention ensures all of the following:

  • Fresh oxygen

  • Removal of excess moisture and protection of your home from mould and mildew

  • That fumes, toxins, and pollutants go outside

  • That air keeps circulating to maximize desired temperature control (warmer or cooler)

  • Fewer health symptoms caused by indoor pollutants or stale air

  • Health and safety during short-term indoor DIY projects (such as painting)

  • Reduced need for certain types of home repairs

  • Lower energy cost

Vital Ventilation Maintenance

In order for your ventilation system to work as it should and achieve the desired results, you will need to make time for some routine maintenance. How often you perform this maintenance will depend on where you live and how much you use your ventilation tools.

The most common regular ventilation systems maintenance includes these tasks:

  • Wiping down fan blades and exterior housing to remove dust and debris

  • Cleaning or changing air filters

  • Dusting and cleaning air registers and grills and exhaust vents

  • Placing secure permeable covers (like a mesh grille) over vents with exterior openings to keep birds and debris out.

  • Periodically scheduling a professional cleaning of your indoor air duct system to remove longstanding built-up debris.

Give Us a Call

Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, indoor air ventilation is one of our specialties. We invite you to participate in our Breathe Clean Air event, which offers 20 percent savings on all whole-home indoor air quality equipment. To learn more, give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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Understanding the Difference Between Air Filtration and Air Purification

ultraviolet air purifier

The terms “filtration” and “purification” sound an awful lot alike, don’t they? After all, when you filter the air, this also purifies it.

So what is the difference between air filtration and air purification, and why would you install one or the other or both?

This is a common area of confusion, and it is very easy to get the two terms mixed up for obvious reasons.

In this post, learn how each system works to clean up your indoor air and create purer, richer, more oxygenated and breathable air for your home and workplace.

Air Filtration Defined

Air filtration is the process of ridding the air of airborne particles (dust, mites, pollen, toxins, etc.) through the use of an air filter installed on your air conditioner for furnace.

The filter traps and filters out airborne particles before the air gets sent through the duct system to each room in your home or workplace.

There are two main types of air filters:

1. HEPA

The best air filters are called HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters. HEPA filters all rate 17 or higher in terms of filtration efficiency, which means they can filter out 99.97 of particles as small in diameter as a single human hair.

Only air conditioning units rated to work at a 16 or higher efficiency level can use a HEPA filter successfully. However, if you have a lower-rated air conditioner or furnace that is still working well, you can install portable HEPA-rated air filtration devices in specific rooms in your space as needed.

You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA-rated filter to clean your carpets and flooring, which will help trap additional particles and remove them from your indoor air permanently.

2. MERV

The next best air filters are called MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) filters. MERV filters come in efficiency ratings from 1 (the lowest) to 16 (the highest).

The vast variance in ratings means that all air conditioners and/or furnaces can use one of these filters to at least provide some filtration of the indoor air.

Air Purification Defined

Air purification is the process of sanitizing the air by neutralizing airborne toxins (gases and off-gassing, bacteria, viral or fungal matter, toxic pathogens, etc.).

Air purification uses a different method than an air filter to purify the air of toxins. Instead of simply trapping airborne particles within the mechanism of a tangible filter, an air purifier emits something to kill, neutralize, transform or otherwise render airborne toxins harmless.

There are various air purification systems available. Some are better at purifying than others, and some systems are safer to use than others.

One of the most popular air purification systems being used today is ultraviolet (U.V.) air purification.

The concept of U.V. air purifiers is based on our planet’s sun and how it works to purify the outdoor air.

Sunlight is still the best all-around air purifier of all time, but short of installing a sunroof on your home or office that you can roll open on nice days, it is awfully difficult to get the outside sunlight where the indoor air needs purifying the most (while also avoiding the possibility of toxic over-exposure).

So U.V. air purifiers were developed to effectively mimic how the sun purifies air using ultraviolet light waves.

Ultraviolet light can kill or neutralize airborne toxins, pathogens, viral and fungal matter, mildew, mould spores, pollen, dust mites, and other harmful substances. As the chemicals and biological toxins are destroyed, any odours they caused are also neutralized. This is why people often remark that U.V.-treated air smells fresher.

There are two main types of U.V. air purifiers:

1. Portable room units

As their name suggests, portable room units are designed to clean and sanitize the air in a specific area of space in your home or office. If you live in a very small space (<900 square feet) some portable room units may be able to treat your air effectively.

However, if you live in a larger space with multiple rooms, the only way to sanitize and purify the air is to install a separate portable U.V. air purifier in each room.

2. Central system units

Central system units work with your central HVAC and furnace system to treat all of the air coming into your home. Most units treat the air at intake either in the A/C coil or in the air ducts. This way, any air that travels through the air ducts and reaches various rooms in your home or workplace will be sanitized.

Since a central U.V. air purifier takes advantage of the air circulation as it moves through your HVAC and furnace units, you need only one. There are central systems for smaller spaces (1,700+ square feet) and larger spaces (4,000+ square feet).

Air Filter Versus Air Purifier: Which One Is Best?

Even if your own source of cooling and heating is very basic (like a window unit), you likely already have some type of minimum air filtration system installed.

Then, for extra air filtration, you can just add a portable HEPA filtration unit.

Ideally, you will get the cleanest, purest indoor air by using both systems together. Your air filters will trap airborne particles and the U.V. air purifier will kill airborne pathogens, so all that remains will be clean, pure, fresh, oxygenated indoor air.

Save 20 Percent on All Indoor Air Systems

Our Breathe Clean Air event is still going on—right now, save 20 percent on all whole-home HEPA filtration and U.V. purification systems, heat recovery ventilators, and whole-home humidifiers!

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Tips to Safeguard Your Indoor Air Quality During Fire Season

forest fires affect air quality

Once again, Canada’s annual “fire season” is making headlines around the world. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has issued a series of air quality alerts and safety precautions to help you through the unavoidable toxic fallout from this season’s wildfires.

Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we want to offer you some additional timely tips for keeping your indoor air as clean and toxin-free as possible during this time.

While none of us can control the quality of the outside air when fires are raging, we can have a great deal of control over the purity of our inside air—thank goodness! Read on for tips you can act on right away to clean and purify your indoor air.

Know the Health Symptoms of Toxic Smoke Exposure

ECCC maintains a symptoms list online to alert you to the warning signs of smoke exposure. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these symptoms, especially if you or a loved one has a history of severe allergies or asthma.

  • Watering, sore or itchy eyes

  • Runny nose

  • Respiratory irritation or inflammation

  • Scratchy or sore throat

  • Coughing or wheezing

  • Chest pains

  • Heart palpitations or even heart attack

  • Difficulty breathing and/or onset of asthma attacks

Take the Necessary Precautionary Steps

ECCC offers this list of precautionary steps you can take to manage the risk of smoke exposure during wildfire season.

1. Follow ECCC’s FireWork

FireWork is an online tool that generates smoke forecasts over a 48-hour period. You can view a morning and evening forecast showing airborne smoke movement predictions based on wind direction. FireWork is operational each year from April 1 to October 31.

2. Use the “recirculate” air option while driving

When driving, set your vehicle’s ventilation system to “recirculate” so you are not drawing in smoke through the air vents.

3. Take your workouts indoors

There is no doubt it can be a hardship to limit your outdoor activities, but your lungs, sinuses, and respiratory system will thank you for it.

The more you can make arrangements to work out, enjoy sports, and other hobbies indoors where the air is being filtered, the healthier you will stay during wildfire season.

4. Refrain from adding additional toxins to your indoor air supply

This can include indoor use of tobacco products, wood-fired stove cooking, using your fireplace, burning leaf litter, using candles/incense, and other similar activities.

Since the air is already burdened more than usual with smoke-related toxins, every little bit you can cut back will help you stay healthier.

5. Choose your cleaning and personal care products carefully

More people are now aware that many commercial cleaning products and personal care products like perfumes and air fresheners are not always safe to breathe.

By opting for all-natural cleaning products and using essential oils rather than chemical perfumes and air fresheners, you can safeguard your indoor air starting now.

6. Don’t wait if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms

Your local province likely maintains a health hotline with up-to-date information on air quality alerts.

Here in Ontario, you can consult Air Quality Ontario for daily updates on air quality issues related to airborne smoke as well as other factors like smog.

Be Proactive About Indoor Air Purity

It can be frustrating to watch the wildfires once again spreading smoke across the clear skies above you. It can also be easy to stop taking air quality seriously when you live with the same annual cycle year after year.

But smoke poisoning is nothing to take lightly—it can be life limiting and sometimes deadly. Since Canada’s wildfires are an annual occurrence, it can also make smart health and financial sense to take a proactive approach toward managing your own indoor air quality.

These are the three best helps we have found to achieve consistently clean, pure, and healthy indoor air.

HEPA Filtration

High efficiency particulate air filters have been the gold standard in airborne toxin filtration since World War II, when HEPA filters were developed to filter radioactive micro-particles out of the air in scientific laboratories.

You won’t find any better indoor air filtration anywhere in the world than the HEPA filtration systems you can get right here in Canada.

These are the four main ways to use HEPA air filtration technology:

  • Upgrade your HVAC to a unit rated for efficiency at 16 or higher that will work efficiently with HEPA-rated air filters.

  • Install an external whole-home HEPA filtration system that works with your existing HVAC unit.

  • Add portable HEPA filtration devices in each room of your home.

  • Convert to a HEPA-rated vacuum and use it with your carpeting and flooring.

Heat Recovery Ventilator

This whole-home system isolates stale outgoing air from fresh incoming air to ensure all outgoing pollutants are disposed of safely outside your home.

The heat recovery ventilator, or HRV for short, also automatically adjusts the humidity of your indoor air to maintain healthy levels between 30 and 50 percent.

Most pertinently for wildfire season safety, the HRV comes with an inbuilt recirculated air mode to prevent airborne smoke toxins from finding their way inside your home’s air supply.

Ultraviolet Air Purifiers

UV air purifiers use powerful UV technology to destroy airborne toxins and odours. Both portable and central whole-home units are available.

Save 20 Percent Through Our Breathe Clean Air Event

Right now, you can save 20 percent on ALL indoor air quality appliances and devices we sell! Learn more by completing this simple online form or just give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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