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Does Your Furnace Need an Air Exchanger? Five Tell-Tale Signs

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Indoor air quality can make a huge impact on your family’s health and quality of life.

In recent years, increasing volumes of research studies have pinpointed how toxic air – indoors and outdoors – can cause severe health issues as diverse as low birth weight and premature fatality.

But now even minor health irritations such as chronic allergies and headaches are linked to poor indoor air conditions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that the air in the average indoor space can be five times more toxic than the outside air.

Since most Canadians spend nine-tenths of every day indoors, indoor air toxicity has become a serious health issue.

Unfortunately, with the changing standards in the construction industry – well-meaning standards designed to lower bills and keep temperature-controlled air from leaking out – indoor air toxicity concerns have increased yet again.

Many of our customers do not realize how much of an impact indoor air quality can make until they experience it for themselves. One of the biggest improvements you can make is to add a gadget called an air exchanger.

What is an air exchanger, and what can it do to clean up your indoor air?

5 Major Benefits of Installing a Home Air Exchanger

Another word for an air exchanger is a heat recovery ventilator. A similar device is called an energy recovery ventilator.

But all three devices are designed to do essentially the same job.

  1. They provide continuous fresh air to ventilate your space.

  2. They continually exhaust the stale air inside your space to the outside.

  3. They lower energy bills by transferring heat.

  4. They provide some level of humidity balancing inside your home.

  5. They remove some seriously toxic matter from your indoor air.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these functions within the framework of improving indoor air quality inside your home or workplace.

Ventilation for fresh indoor air

An air exchanger constantly exchanges stale, oxygen-poor indoor air for fresh, oxygenated outdoor air.

But most importantly, the way it accomplishes this is special.

An air exchanger has two separate pathways for incoming fresh air and outgoing stale air so the two air supplies never mingle.

Exhaust of toxic indoor air

As the previous section described, even while the air exchanger is pulling in fresh air, sending it through your furnace filter and then into your space, it is also continually drawing out stale, toxic air and sending it back outside.

Heat transfer to lower energy costs

Where an air exchanger becomes a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) and really takes indoor air quality improvements to the next level is when it starts moving heat around to save you money.

How does a heat recovery ventilator do this?

The HRV detects and harvests heat energy in the outgoing stale indoor air that might otherwise be wasted, and recycles it to preheat the incoming fresh air stream before it reaches your furnace. This means you spend less on energy to heat your indoor air.

But that isn’t all a heat recovery ventilator can do!

In summer when temperatures soar and the last thing you want in your space is heat, the heat recovery ventilator will send excess heat back out with the stale outgoing air to reduce the cost to cool incoming fresh air.

Pretty neat!

Humidity balancing

Even these tricks don’t represent the sum total of how an air exchanger can help improve your indoor air quality even while lowering your energy bills.

As if all this wasn’t already enough, heat recovery ventilators are also experts at moving humidity around.

While the energy recovery ventilator (ERV) represents the true gold standard in terms of humidity balancing, typically ERVs are recommended only for more tropical geographic locations where humidity regularly gets up into the triple digits.

Here in the north, a heat recovery ventilator is typically sufficient to balance your indoor air humidity levels year-round.

When someone in your family struggles in the sometimes extremely dry air of winter, adding a portable or whole-home humidifier can make up for any moisture deficiency.

Toxin removal

According to Natural Resources Canada, heat recovery ventilators can readily remove a variety of potent airborne toxins from your indoor air at home or at work:

  • Mould and mildew

  • Formaldehyde

  • Radon

  • Tobacco or wood smoke

  • Common hobby and cleaning chemicals

  • Viral, bacterial and fungal matter

  • Pet dander

  • Dust mites

While home or workplace combustion-based appliances should be separately and properly vented, a high-quality heat recovery ventilator can also assist with the removal of particulates, including smoke and wood ash, carbon dioxide and similar matter.

How to Choose the Right Air Exchanger for Your Home

Heat recovery ventilators are designed to work well with central (ducted, forced air) HVAC systems. They can be easily integrated to work with your existing blower and ductwork.

So how do you choose the right air exchanger for your home’s needs?

Heat recovery ventilators, like HVAC systems, are sized by the space they need to operate in. For general purposes, you will need to calculate the amount of fresh air to be supplied to your home to determine what size air exchanger you need.

This is typically measured either in litres per second (L/s) or in cubic feet per minute (cfm).

If you are not sure what your home’s fresh air capacity is, we are happy to help with this calculation.

Get in Touch

Is 2020 the year you will clean up your indoor air once and for all? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

P.S. It’s not too late to save 10 percent on any of our air duct cleaning packages!

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