Testing confirms ERV boosts home's IAQ

Testing confirms ERV boosts home's IAQ

Photo courtesy of Zehnder America

When the Mastrangelo family renovated and expanded their Massachusetts cape home several years ago, they added spray foam insulation to the entire second floor and roof. They wanted to make their home as energy efficient and comfortable as possible. 

Sadly, the family soon started suffering from indoor air quality issues that took years to solve, until they installed an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) that has proven the effectiveness of such solutions to clean contaminated air. 

Poor home air quality causes chronic health problems

The Mastrangelos’ daughter had been suffering from chronic Lyme disease, which is often aggravated by poor indoor air quality and other environmental contaminants. After installing the Zehnder ComfoAir 200 ventilation system, the family noted significant improvement in their daughter’s health. 

Jeff Bradley, the owner of IndoorDoctor, an indoor environmental assessment company, looked for a quantifiable difference.

Tests confirm significant improvement in indoor air quality

Bradley tested the home’s indoor air quality in July 2017, when the Mastrangelos had a third-party ERV connected through the home’s heating and cooling ductwork before the Zehnder ERV was installed. He found certain contaminants above normal ranges.

He retested the home in February 2018, after the third-party ERV was removed and the Zehnder solution installed. Tests revealed drastic IAQ improvement with significant reductions in:

  • Chemical levels (total volatile organic compounds)
  • Microbial volatile organic compounds
  • Formaldehyde 
  • Airborne particulate matter
  • Carbon dioxide

Lower carbon dioxide levels

Typical carbon dioxide levels are between 350 to 900 parts per million (ppm). The first indoor air quality testing found that the Mastrangelo home had unhealthy levels of carbon dioxide on the second floor (between 908 and 1016 ppm) and in the attic (1,000 ppm). The follow-up air quality test revealed healthy carbon dioxide levels of between 403 and 530 ppm.

Elevated levels are often associated with a home that is too tightly constructed and does not have adequate ventilation. Occupants may even experience a stuffy feeling, and odors are likely to develop. 

“The elevated carbon dioxide levels in the Mastrangelo home were an indicator that something was off, and there was an imbalance,” Bradley said. “These levels are key metrics and were a sign that there were not enough fresh air exchanges in the home. In these situations, most contaminants will build up, including mold, carbon monoxide, airborne particulates, allergens, formaldehyde, sewer gases and radon.”

The ERV system boosts home air quality because it continuously ventilates the Mastrangelo house by removing stale, contaminated air from the bathrooms, storage room and kitchen while supplying fresh, filtered air to the bedrooms.

Christine Mastrangelo called the Zehnder solutions and its associated benefits “life-changing.”


Topics: Heating & Cooling, Indoor Air Quality, Insulation, Thermal Envelope, Ventilation

Companies: Zehnder America

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