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What's the Purpose of an Air Exchanger?

What's the Purpose of an Air Exchanger?

Interior renovationsWhat's the Purpose of an Air Exchanger?

In Canada, our winters are quite long and as a result, we spend a lot of time indoors with our doors and windows shut tightly. Our indoor air festers and waits for warmer days when we can finally let in the fresh air from outside.

But what if there was a more efficient way to access the fresh air without ever opening a window? This is where the air exchange system comes into play!

Inherent to their name, air exchangers move the stale air from inside your home and swap it with fresh outdoor air. These devices, also known as mechanical ventilation systems, keep the home fresh, in addition to preventing allergens from collecting indoors. We’ve got the down-low on everything you need to know about air exchangers, so read on to find out more!

Here's everything you need to know about air exchangers!

How does an air exchanger work?


source: Pixabay

An air exchanger is installed to work with the existing HVAC system, pulling fresh air from outdoors into the home by way of ductwork. Each unit consists of several separate channels that work to preheat incoming air with the exhaust air. The duct system is outfitted with distribution grills, to pull in and distribute fresh air and stale air exhaust grills that expel stale air.

These grills are connected to the air exchanger, and are located throughout the home; this could be anywhere from the kitchen to the bedroom or living room! Grills are generally placed where fresh air is most needed, so think about areas where ventilation or airflow aren’t as possible. While some grills are working to distribute fresh air into these spaces, others are pulling stale air from inside the home into the outdoors. These are placed at the highest level of the home possible, as humidity and pollutants rise. 

There are a few different air exchanger models on the market, but the main three types of systems are a fully ducted system, an exhaust ducted system and a simplified system. The fully ducted system works with homes that have hot water or electric baseboard heating and is most effective at capturing pollutants and distributing fresh air to living areas. Both the exhaust ducted system and the simplified system work with homes that have furnaces or forced air heating systems and capture pollutants at their source. 


What does this mean for indoor air quality?

Air exchangers work in several ways to make sure the indoor air quality of your home is not only fresh but clean as well. Firstly, an air exchanger works to balance out the humidity levels of a home. All the indoor activities we take part in while indoors, including cooking, washing dishes, showering and breathing, create moisture.

Thus, our indoor air tends to collect a build-up of moisture and humidity. When in excess, this moisture can condense on indoor surfaces, leading to deterioration and damage. Furthermore, a buildup of moisture can lead to mould, mildew, dust and bacteria growing and accumulating. Since an air exchanger deals with the humidity levels of a home, homeowners can rest assured that it will work to balance out moisture levels.

In addition to an excess of moisture, the air inside of your home can become contaminated by appliances that utilize combustion, as these create carbon monoxide as well as other pollutants. Common sources of harmful gases include water heaters, space heaters, chimneys, as well as wood-burning appliances.

Not to mention, if you are living in a new home, the surfaces and materials that were used to build it may emit gasses that are not compatible with acceptable living conditions. Air exchangers work to fight off these harmful gasses and push the stale buildup of air toward the outdoors. Beyond the obvious health benefits, an air exchanger is always working to create a more comfortable, fresher and better living environment for yourself and your loved ones. 

Other aspects to consider

Open window_RenoQuotes

source: Pixabay

Something most homeowners likely do not consider is their indoor air pressure. An air exchange system can work to regulate the pressure inside a home. It is vital when adopting an air exchange unit that it is correctly balanced so that neutral air is maintained in the home. Also, the outdoor climate plays a vital role when choosing an air exchanger for your home’s indoor air.

If you are living in an extremely humid climate, make sure to choose a model that directly deals with humidity levels. If you live in a province that is cold more often than not, make sure to look for a system that controls airflow. This way, you can leave your windows closed!

How it works
  • This mechanical ventilation system allows the exchange of stale air inside with clean air from outside.
  • The air is diffused by a system of ducts, itself equipped with ventilation grids (located in the different rooms of the house) allowing the suction of fresh air and the evacuation of polluted air.
The different types
  • fully ducted system: it operates from a hydraulic or electric heating system ;
  • exhaust ducted system/simplified system: they operate from a pulsed air heating system or furnace.

The impact on air quality

  • balances humidity levels in the home ;
  • purifies the air of various pollutants that can contaminate it (carbon monoxide, a gas found in new homes, etc) ;
  • creating a more comfortable living environment for the whole family.
Other considerations
  • make sure the air exchanger is well balanced (so that neutral air stays inside the house) ;
  • for a humid climate: choose a device that can handle moisture problems ;
  • for an often cold climate: choose a device that can control air circulation.

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Last modified 2023-11-07

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