Proper Home Ventilation: A Quick Checklist

home ventilationIn the hot and humid Los Angeles area, good home ventilation is key to comfortable living. Achieving this optimal airflow takes correct use of all your ventilation options.

Windows – It’s fine to open the windows now and then, but avoid opening them in the early morning hours when pollen counts are at their highest. Open windows on both sides of the house to create a cross breeze that blows out stale air and brings in fresh air.

Exhaust vents – These are the small fans in your kitchen and bathroom that draw out humidity and odors for basic home ventilation. Your vent fans should be sized to replace the room’s air a minimum of eight times an hour. In a room with a standard 8-foot ceiling, the fan’s CFM (cubic feet per minute) rating should be as least as high as the room’s square footage. Run the fan for 15 minutes after cooking or showering, but no longer or you’ll let in more humidity and pollutants than you let out.

Air conditioner – Your A/C cleans your indoor air by running it through an air filter. Because low-efficiency filters don’t trap most pollutant particles, use a filter with a MERV of 5 or higher. When you want to freshen up your air, but you don’t need cooling, set your air conditioner to run on “fan only.”

Balanced whole house ventilation system – This system uses exhaust fans to remove stale indoor air and supply fans to pull in fresh outdoor air. It provides continuous airflow in every room, making it your best bet for optimal ventilation. These systems are complex and should be installed by a home ventilation professional.

Return air ducts – These ducts take conditioned air back to your heating and cooling system’s air handler, helping to keep the system efficient and maintain optimal airflow and air pressure throughout your home. Ideally, you should have a return air vent in every room that has a door, although door undercuts, jump ducts, and louvered transoms help when adding a return vent isn’t possible.