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The Four Main Types of Home Ventilation Systems

Tech working on a vent

Suffering from poor indoor air quality? The simple solution is to allow some fresh air from the outdoors to replace the old, stale air that has been stuck inside. In fact, opening doors and windows has been the easiest way to freshen up our homes for centuries. However, opening the doors and windows in your home is not always the best or most energy-efficient way of replacing the air in your home. Doing so typically costs you a ton in the form of lost energy from heating and air conditioning systems, and opening doors and windows can also allow bugs, pollen and other contaminants to sneak their way inside.

Today, we have solved these problems with ventilation systems that progressively replace your air without the need to leave your home vulnerable to outdoor pollution and pests. In fact, there are several different types of home ventilation systems that you might be able to take advantage of. Here are the four common types of home ventilation systems, including a brief description of why each of them is a good choice for you.

Exhaust Ventilation Systems

Exhaust ventilation systems work by creating a slight pressure difference between indoor and outdoor air. By making the air pressure indoors slightly lower than that of the outdoor air pressure, the system is able to pull in replacement air through passive vents while forcing indoor air out through an exhaust air outlet. This exhaust is forced using a single, powered fan that is typically located either in the ceiling above an upper floor or in the attic.

Exhaust ventilation systems are one of the most common ventilation systems in homes because they are incredibly simple and virtually any home can sustain one. So long as your vents are placed strategically, your entire home could have the air replaced in as little as roughly ten minutes of operating time. However, they do carry a strong downside: because outdoor air is not filtered, it can contain substances that reduce your air quality, such as dust, radon, and molds from a crawlspace, fumes from an attached garage, and much more.

Supply Ventilation Systems

Supply ventilation systems are almost the exact opposite of an exhaust ventilation system. Rather than creating a lower-pressure indoor atmosphere, this type of system creates a higher-pressure indoor atmosphere, which in turn forces the exhausted air to be pushed out of strategically placed vents found throughout your home. The fresh air pulled in to replace it comes directly from a fresh air inlet placed on your roof, much the same way an exhaust vent might be placed for an exhaust ventilation system. It’s even powered by the same single central supply fan.

Also, just like their polar-opposite twin, supply ventilation systems have their fair share of issues. For starters, these systems do not filter or treat the fresh air before it comes indoors, and that means the air brought in could contain a number of substances you don’t want to have around. However, they are less prone to the issues that lower inlets can offer. Their higher fresh air inlet also can contribute to moisture problems in colder-weather environments, and that’s why these systems are typically not advised for colder-weather climates. Likewise, they do not solve the problem of lost energy due to heated or cooled air escaping when running your HVAC equipment.

Balanced Ventilation Systems

A balanced ventilation system combines the previous two systems we have mentioned by using two fans to both push fresh air inside and then to force stale air out. This creates a balanced ecosystem without any changes in indoor air pressure, and that means they’re generally capable of operating without being noticed in most cases. They offer great distribution of fresh air, and they do a great job of removing old, stale air from the home as well. Best of all these systems do use filters to remove dust and pollen from outside before pushing the air into your home.

Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems

Energy recovery systems are typically on the higher end cost wise. They can be remarkably complex, which increases installation costs and maintenance needs. However, these types of systems are the cream of the crop when it comes to improving air quality without sacrificing energy efficiency. These systems exchange the heat with the incoming air, meaning they don’t alter your indoor temperature while operating. That means fresher air without losing the energy you have already paid dearly for. If you’re truly looking for the best indoor air quality improvement available, an energy recovery ventilation system may be it.

Want to learn more about the great ventilation systems we can install in your home? Call Pyramid Heating & Cooling at (503) 783-8488 today.