Understand the Importance of Good Ventilation in Multi-Family Homes
As the construction of multi-family homes continues to increase across the country, it becomes more important for building owners, contractors and builders to understand the factors that affect comfort for residents of these structures. One of the more important factors is ventilation. Following are some ways to improve ventilation in multi-family homes and its importance in boosting indoor air quality, reducing monthly heating and cooling expenses, and increasing comfort levels.
The Importance of Ventilation
Ventilation in multi-family homes offers residents many benefits related to comfort and indoor air quality. Building owners and managers can also benefit from a well-ventilated apartment or condominium structure. Benefits of ventilation in multi-family homes include:
- Consistent resupply of fresh air: A good ventilation system will provide an ongoing supply of fresh air for the indoor environment. The constant circulation of air will help remove particulates, odors and other airborne contaminants while bringing in clean air from the outdoors.
- Improved indoor comfort: When these airborne contaminates are reduced or eliminated, the level of indoor comfort is increased considerably. Ventilation can help remove hot, stuffy air that can make residents miserable. It also decreases the number of particulates, such as dust, mold and pollen, that can trigger asthma or allergy attacks or simply make indoor air difficult to breathe.
- Reduced effects from moisture: Excess moisture in a residential structure can lead to problems such as mold and mildew growth, damage to the flooring or walls or damage to the basic structure of the building. Moisture can occur during normal daily activities such as cooking, bathing or cleaning.
In the most extreme cases, mold can cause severe health risks. Ventilation in multi-family homes can help remove excess moisture to prevent these problems.
Design Tips for Multi-Family Home Ventilation
A well-designed ventilation system will ensure adequate levels of air exchange, removal of pollutants and contaminants and improvement of comfort levels in multi-family dwellings.
The following general tips can be applied to designing and installing ventilation for multi-family homes:
- Determine duct layout and outdoor vent termination: Assess the need for ductwork and design a layout according to best practices, as affected by the available space or other limitations that may exist. Determine if vent terminations can be installed in nearby exterior walls or will require installation of vent ducts. See if the shortest duct run will take the vent terminations to an exterior wall or to the roof. Be careful of penetrations of walls or roofs. In some circumstances, such as historic buildings, new penetrations for vents may not be allowed. Air and weather barriers should also remain intact when installing ventilation systems.
- Determine proper air sealing for each residential unit: If designing and installing separate ventilation for each apartment or condominium, make sure that each individual unit is air sealed properly. Ventilation will be much more effective in a well-sealed area.
- Ensure proper ventilation for kitchens and baths: Determine the proper exhaust ventilation flow rate for kitchens and baths. Without proper ventilation, both rooms can contribute to moisture buildup and other problems in the home. Make sure both areas have enough ventilated airflow to remove excess moisture and contaminants.
- Install an appropriate balancing device: At each exhaust point, make sure there’s a balancing device installed that can maintain a relatively constant flow of exhaust air under different conditions. These devices should function in a way that prevents over- or under-ventilation in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas of the home.
- Maintain energy efficiency: Install Energy Star-certified fans in the ventilation system to ensure the best energy efficiency possible.
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