Continuously ventilated bathrooms improve IAQ
Common problems like mold around a shower, stale air and musty smells may be affecting a bathroom without the building owner or manager realizing it.
Leading ventilation firm Zehnder America offers the following facts about such issues and how to fix them before they start harming indoor air quality.
Issue: Exhaust Fans May Not Properly Vent the Bathroom
Bathroom humidity levels rise during and after bathing and other activities. In most cases, this problem is caused by inadequate bathroom ventilation. Mold can cause respiratory problems, difficulty concentrating and sinus congestion.
Lack of airflow hinders exhaust fan performance
Exhaust fans are the most common way to ventilate bathrooms. Although this is an effective strategy in some homes and buildings, it isn’t adequate in all bathrooms or humid spaces. Exhaust fans typically rely on cracks or gaps in the exterior of the structure to bring in makeup air. If a building is tightly constructed for greater energy efficiency, there may be inadequate makeup air to offset the air being vented out.
No control of air intake
When sufficient gaps and cracks exist to provide the makeup air necessary for an exhaust fan to function properly, the owner or manager doesn’t have control of where this air originates. In facilities with attached garages, an exhaust fan can pull in airborne pollutants from the garage. Likewise, in structures with moist basements, musty air can be pulled up into the spaces above. This pollutes the air quality and threatens the health of the environment indoors.
Improper venting creates excess humidity levels
Some exhaust fans vent into the attic instead of outdoors, creating humidity issues in the attic instead of in the bathroom. Sometimes issues with the ductwork impede airflow, making the exhaust fan ineffective. In other cases, the exhaust fan does not run long enough to adequately exhaust excess humidity and odors.
Warm air is vented out in the winter, increasing energy bills
Even when exhaust fans work properly, they exhaust conditioned air to the outside, wasting energy. This makes the heating and cooling system work harder to compensate, increasing energy bills.
Solutions: Continuous Bathroom Ventilation
Continuous bathroom ventilation with a balanced ventilation system solves many common indoor air quality issues in bathrooms. Heat recovery ventilators and energy recovery ventilators are balanced ventilation systems that promote indoor air quality throughout a structure.
Ideal ventilation rates promote indoor air quality
Heat recovery ventilators supply and exhaust an equal amount of air into the home, which solves the issue of inadequate makeup air hindering the movement of air. Because heat recovery ventilators run continuously to maintain ideal ventilation levels, they don’t rely on occupants remembering to turn the system on and off depending on use.
Fresh, filtered air promotes healthy indoor air quality
Heat recovery ventilators supply a constant stream of fresh, filtered air to the building and exhaust an equal amount of stale or moist air. This helps prevent creating a vacuum in the structure, which could cause air from an attached garage or basement to be pulled into living and working spaces. In addition, heat recovery ventilators provide filtered air, thus removing many common indoor air pollutants before air enters the structure.
Adequate ventilation promotes cleaner indoor air
Removing excess humidity after bathing helps prevent mold and mildew growth around the bathroom. Although a heat recovery ventilator won’t prevent mold growth from water leaks, it is designed to remove excess humidity resulting from common indoor activities that minimizes indoor mold growth.
Heat recovery ventilators boost energy efficiency
Heat recovery ventilators are up to 95 percent efficient in transferring heat from the exhaust air to the intake air, which helps owners save money on utility bills. This means that buildings can have a constant supply of fresh air throughout the year without driving up heating and cooling costs.
Companies: Zehnder America