Nov. 12, 2016
This is the last article in a three-part series on retrofitting a New Hampshire home with a Zehnder Energy Recovery Ventilation system to provide a solution for the poor air quality in the home. Click here to view the first post on how health ailments put the spotlight on indoor air quality issues and here to read about the process of retrofitting the home. In this article we explore the impact of the ventilation system on promoting health.
Spotlight on Indoor Air Quality
Steeplechase Builders recently retrofitted an expanded Cape home in southern New Hampshire with a Zehnder Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) system. The couple who owned the house air-sealed it a few years prior for energy efficiency Though they were able to gain energy efficiency, the t lack of adequate ventilation caused poor indoor air quality and visible mold growth occurred within months.
When one of the residents became ill with mold toxicity, and later Lyme disease, improving indoor air quality became a major necessity for the owners to promote a long-term healthy environment in their home after regaining stable health. As a solution, they installed a Zehnder ERV to gain optimal indoor air quality while preventing mold and other indoor toxins from causing more harm to the immune system.
Measuring Home Ventilation Performance
After a year of medical treatment, the homeowner was ready to return to the New Hampshire home. But there was concern: was the air quality sufficient to support her ongoing recovery?
The ERV had worked to constantly supply fresh, filtered air to the home while removing many common indoor pollutants but would this be a healthy enough environment for them to live in again? Since the stakes were high, the couple decided to conduct laboratory testing to verify the ERV was doing it’s job.
“We hired our doctor’s personal industrial hygienist and flew him up from Florida to review our house after [the ERV] system was installed,” explains one of the homeowners. . “He was very impressed by the system, and how clean the air actually felt. He stated, ‘Your labs came in today, and I’ve never seen any as good as yours. You have no elevations of mold spores in any part of your home. In fact, the inside counts are lower than the outdoor counts!’ That is his written commentary, verbatim, via text. I can tell you that his review certainly gives me a sense of calm that I am creating a safe refuge for my wife when she returns from treatment.”
Simple indoor air quality observations made by the homeowners while living in the home also indicated similar positive results of better indoor air quality. “Since [the ERV] was installed, we have stopped using our exhaust fans in our bathrooms as [the ERV] clears out the humidity faster than the fans [can], and it clears our house of cooking odors in minutes,” said the homeowner. “[When I come] home after a week away, the house no longer has that stuffy, unused smell that it used to develop.”
The stuffy, unused smell was occurring because the home had been air-sealed and there hadn’t been a sufficient amount of air entering the house to maintain adequate indoor air quality. Because of this, stale air would get trapped inside, while excessive humidity from lack of ventilation encouraged mold growth. After installing the Zehnder ERV in their home, air is now extracted from the kitchen and bathrooms, and supplied to the living areas to ensure that moisture from bathing and cooking is removed immediately, preventing mold growth. The home is now supplied with fresh air, making it easier to breathe.
The homeowners were also pleased by how cohesive the retrofitting process was, largely due to the professionalism displayed by Steeplechase Builders. It was the first Zehnder ERV system the company had installed, and the process was seamless for the homeowners. Zehnder also provided technical expertise and design assistance to ensure the installation ran smoothly without changing the appearance of the living areas of the home.
There are solutions to severe health ailments caused or exacerbated by indoor air pollution. As these homeowners discovered, balanced home ventilation systems, like the Zehnder ERV, are a way to help to remove contaminants inside while conserving energy in the home. These systems create a whole-house solution to poor indoor air quality beyond what is possible with most air filtration and purification systems on the market, letting the homeowner breath a little easier knowing they’re getting the best indoor air quality possible.
This blog was developed by Zehnder America. All posts, sponsored and un-sponsored have been reviewed and approved by the Sustainable Community Media Editorial Team to ensure quality, relevance/usefulness and objectivity.