IAQ 2019 vs IAQ 2021
Wow, what a difference 2 years can make. Up until 2019, my talks on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) would be to rooms of likeminded professionals or basement contractors that wanted to know what more they could do for their customer. Fast forward to 2021. Not only are contractors more knowledgeable, but it seems like every homeowner knows, not only about the importance of good IAQ, but what that even stands for! They know about the importance of filtration & even more so, ventilation. Up until recently, most homeowner’s knowledge of ventilation was relegated to bathroom fans.
IAQ is obviously more important now than it ever has been in the past. With Covid on everyone’s mind, let’s talk for a little bit about why IAQ is so important. The easy answer is that, with Covid in the air, it’s part of IAQ. That’s a no brainer. But again, why? Covid particles are very small, and as a result, can pass through mediums typically used in household appliances. Your standard HVAC filter does a great job, when maintained, but it wasn’t designed to stop the smaller size particles that make up the Covid virus.
When we look to create a healthy indoor environment, we always want to start with Source Control. If there is a source to the problems facing your family, then remove it. Moldy carpet? Throw it away. Water coming in through the basement walls? Get waterproofed.
That said, source control isn’t always the practical answer. Try telling a family to get rid of that Black Lab! This also pertains to Covid. There is no “source” of Covid that you can control. So, if source control isn’t an option, the next step is Ventilation. And ventilation does not mean that you should run your HVAC fan on the “Run” setting all the time. In the past, this has always been a great first step to moving stale air. However, if you are concerned about Covid, then let’s take a different approach to our thinking. Let’s think, albeit simplistically, about how the HVAC system works. It is installed in a house with vents that push either conditioned or heated air throughout the house. It also has cold air returns that allow that same air to travel back through ducts to the plenum. There it is filtered, then heated or cooled, dehumidified and sent back out to the house. So, if we think back to the point above about how covid particles are too small to be captured by the standard HVAC filter, what is happening? We’re circulating the Covid air throughout the house.
Now is the time we start to rethink the benefit of quarantining someone to their room… If your Covid positive family member is quarantined in their room, do you want to recirculate the air throughout the house, or ventilate that air to the outside? Ventilation, or taking the air inside the home and exhausting it directly to the outside, is the best option. Filtration is also possible, but more on that in a separate blog.
Ventilation, or whole house air exchanges, in any home, regardless of the presence of Covid, is a smart idea. By creating whole house air exchanges, you are exhausting the stale, and sometimes contaminated air to the outside.
EZ Breathe takes the concept of air exchanges to a new level (pun intended). A typical house experiences a Stack Effect. This is a fancy term to describe how things like hot air balloons, and your family room fireplace, operate: warm air rises (this concept has its limitations, but that’s more of a meteorological conversation). This is not necessarily a good thing. Do we want basement air to rise up to the living space? Do we want the air in our living space, with cooking gases, garage fumes, COVID, etc, rising to the 2nd floor?
By installing an EZ Breathe in the basement, we are capturing the air that is typically the “worst” & exhausting it directly to the outside, not allowing it to migrate up to the living space. In doing this, there is a need for replacement air. The replacement air comes from the living space above. By exhausting the basement air & replacing that exhausted air with the air from the upper living spaces, we are creating the very necessary whole house air exchanges- all by doing something very simple. The EZ Breathe unit can be set to run full time, or to cycle off at a certain relative humidity (RH) level. The amount of air being moved can also be controlled by the fan speed.
The EZ Breathe whole house ventilation system is an important step towards creating a healthy indoor environment.
V.P. EZ Breathe Healthy Home Solutions
V.P. Basement Health Association
Certified Healthy Homes Specialist
Certified Indoor Environmentalist
Certified Radon Measurement Provider