Tips and Tricks for an ERV Home Ventilation System
Plan your ductwork correctly –
When installing a ventilation system in your house you will have to run some ductwork. You will need to install a fresh air intake vent. You will also need to install an exhaust vent that will remove the stale air from your home. In addition to the vents to the outside, you may need to install supply and return ducts in each of the rooms that you intend to vent.
Locate your fresh air intake correctly –
Probably the most important consideration is the location of the fresh air intake duct. As mentioned previously, it is important to separate the intake and exhaust ducts.
You also want to keep the intake duct away from other vents on your home (bathroom vents, plumbing vents, laundry vents, kitchen vents, etc.) and chimneys. It may not seem 100% obvious but do not install an intake duct near your driveway.
In the summer, the sun causes chemicals in asphalt driveways to evaporate, and your car produces exhaust. An intake near a driveway could easily pick up these harmful pollutants. Use common sense when installing an intake vent. Do not install an intake in a location where you might end up bringing bad air into your home.
Integrate your ventilator centrally if possible –
If your home is equipped with a central heating/cooling system you may be able to integrate the ventilator into the system. In this case, the ventilator provides fresh air to the central system, which is then distributed throughout the house using the existing supply and return vents.
Installing a standalone system will require more work depending on your home and the number of fresh air returns you plan to install. In this situation, you might find it best to have a professional install the system.
One way to easily get fresh air into a home without a central heating/cooling system is to install ventilator so that it provides fresh air to one central location in your home.
Install return ducts in appropriate locations –
If you are going to install return ducts you should install them in high moisture areas such as your kitchen and bathrooms.
You should also install a return in every bedroom. Install them within one foot of the ceiling and at least 10 feet away from ovens or cooktops. Like any ductwork you want to keep the runs as short and straight as possible and use smooth round ductwork when possible.
If you need to install ductwork in unheated/uncooled areas such as attics, garages, or basements you should insulate the ducting and seal all joints.
Watch out for freezing, frosting and condensation –
Other than the ductwork you will need to install the ventilation system itself. They are typically not that large and can be installed in the utility area of your home.
If you live in a cold climate, you will need to consider the possibility of freezing and frost formation. Frost can form as cold air flows through ventilator. Frost buildup reduces the system’s efficiency and can damage the unit.
It is also possible that the ventilator may produce some condensation. So you may want to consider adding a pan, or a drain, to catch any condensation that may be generated. Finally the ventilator will need to be serviced periodically to keep it in good working condition.
So, be sure to install it in a location that is easily accessible. Filters need to be replaced and the heat exchanger should be cleaned to prevent mold and bacteria from forming. It is a good idea to have your ventilator serviced by a professional at least once a year.
Don’t confuse am HRV with an ERV –
Although I have used the terms ERV and HRV interchangeably they are not the same thing. The heat exchanger in an ERV transfers water vapor and heat whereas a HRV transfers only heat.
So, an ERV will keep the humidity levels in your home about the same year round. Since a HRV only transfers heat your home may be drier in the winter and more humid during the summer.
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