What is ventilation? Types of ventilation systems

Home ventilation system might be hidden from sight, but it plays one of the most important roles in every apartment. It provides comfort and makes your home fresh. Is that it’s only function? Ventilation system is an essential part of every building. It reduces the levels of humidity. Excessive dampness in air might lead to development of fungi and mould which are dangerous for human health. Such state is risky especially for sensitive people who suffer from asthma or allergies. Ventilation in buildings used to be a luxury in the past but now it should be one of its most important parts, regardless of its use.

  • Building ventilation system - how does it work?
  • Natural ventilation of a building
  • How do forced ventilation systems work?
  • Insufficient ventilation system - what does it mean?
  • Building airtightness vs ventilation - the best option for winter
  • Ventilation maintenance - is it necessary?

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Building a ventilation system - how does it work?

Ventilation is not a very complex issue. The appropriate system allows for air circulation in every room of a building. The used, “old” air is replaced with clean and fresh one. It is much healthier, as it does not contain any harmful substances or pollutants. Depending on its driving force, there are two types of ventilation:

  • gravity, also called natural ventilation,
  • forced, requiring the use of ventilators.

That not the only division. The experts claim that one can perfectly fit a ventilation system to any kind of building. In addition to the types mentioned above, there are also types such as:

  • heat recovery ventilation,
  • mixed mode ventilation,
  • supply ventilation,
  • hybrid ventilation.

Natural ventilation of a building

A well designed system of air vents in a building allows for natural airflow. This type of ventilation might require using additional equipment, created specifically for home or office.

Important One of the biggest advantages of this type of ventilation is the fact that it does not need to be assisted with any type of energy. Because of that there is little risk of damaging such system. Despite the fact that the installation provides unequal amounts of airflow in each of the rooms, it still works properly.

Specialists consider this type of ventilation one of the most reliable. It should be noted that in some cases natural ventilation is mandatory - it is regulated by law. It is required for instance in buildings with a boiler room with open combustion chambers.

Natural ventilation is the most vulnerable in winter and summer. Such a system works thanks to differences in temperature outside and inside the building. The air inside should be warmer than outside. Very often, especially when air vents are poorly designed, the air flows back to the building in summer. The most common issue in winter is too strong natural ventilation.

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How do forced ventilation systems work?

With regards to mechanical ventilation, there is no one type of it. Depending on the mechanism, one can distinguish ventilations:

  • with the air forced outside the building,
  • with the air forced inside and outside the building,
  • with heat recovery.

The first type is the simplest one. The forced airflow is pushed outside of the building. Fresh air enters the room through openings installed in the windows. Very often such systems are used as an addition to the natural ventilation. The most common forms of this type of ventilation are kitchen hoods installed over stoves, that get rid of the hot air and steam.

The second type of ventilation is very similar to the first one. The only difference lies in the fact that the air is forced with mechanical ventilators both outside and inside the building.

Ventilation with heat recovery uses specialised devices, called recuperators. They extract heat out of the air leaving the building and use it to warm up the fresh air entering the house. Such a solution is perfect especially in winter, when buildings lose a lot of heat.

Insufficient ventilation system - what does it mean?

You already learned about two situations signifying that your ventilation system has been poorly designed. It involves the used air flowing back into the building in summer and too strong ventilation in winter. Those two issues are, however just a tip of the iceberg of possible problems with ventilation. What else should be a matter of concern?

If you live in a multi-occupancy residential (block of flats or tenement), you might be able to smell what your neighbours cook, or worse - cigarette smoke. In such a case there surely is something wrong with the ventilation of the building. You might also see droplets of water on your windows, which might mean that the room is not ventilated at all. Such situation needs a quick action. High level of humidity in a room might cause growth of mould and fungi. Those organisms are difficult to get rid of and they pose a serious threat to the well-being of the occupants.

Sometimes you might not notice that your ventilation is malfunctioning or not working at all. Instead you might notice changes in your health. Sudden headaches for no reason, allergies, redness of eyes and always runny nose are signs that you should take care of the ventilation. Do it as soon as possible - before it’s too late.

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Building airtightness vs ventilation - the best option for winter

Many homeowners make a crucial mistake when ventilating a building in winter. Being concerned about excessive cooling inside, they block off the windows or air vents so that the air cannot enter the building. Contemporary ventilation systems, however, are designed in such a way that there is no need to do that. Moreover, because of the central heating, the rooms need to be additionally ventilated. Opening the windows once in a few days for 5-10 minutes should be enough. If a room is ventilated this way, it will warm up better and faster.

Ventilation maintenance - is it necessary?

In accordance with the law regulations, ventilation should be inspected at least once in a year. Doing that one can be sure that the installation is efficient and does not pose a threat to the health of the occupants. Ventilation should be tested by a legitimised specialist. It should be done between late autumn and early spring, when central heating works. This way the results will be the most reliable.

Proper building ventilation is crucial. Because most of our lives are spent at home, it is worth to make sure that one feels comfortable and safe inside.

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