With more and more stories hitting the news about the poor quality of air in major UK cities, the issue is really beginning to hit home about how dangerous the air we breathe really is. In fact, when it comes to the air quality within our homes, this can sometimes be worse than the air outside and the only healthy solution is some form of fresh air ventilation.
A mechanical ventilation system has the ability to filter out pollutants from the outside air, ensuring the indoor air quality is as fresh as possible. Conversely, it has the ability to extract the stale indoor air, transferring heat (or cooling) to the fresh incoming air, ensuring your indoor temperature remains the same – which is a very energy efficient function.
Currently in UK homes it is quite common for mechanical extraction fans to be added to kitchens or bathrooms with no windows, in order to reduce condensation and remove smells. But as our air quality worsens and our UK climate becomes more humid, there are some other rooms in our homes that are often forgotten about when it comes to ensuring a fresh air supply and stale air extraction.
If you’re looking to add some form of ventilation to your home, these are some additional rooms I urge you to consider to improve both the comfort and air quality in your home and help mitigate problems such as rot.
Due to the subterranean construction of basements, they are prone to mould, mildew, odours and other nasty issues, especially if they aren’t sealed properly. This is because in cold seasons the stagnant air will cause mould growth and the warm moist air will condense on the cold foundations, resulting in increased moisture.
Therefore for your standard use basement, having some form of heating and ventilation is very important in both maintaining the foundations of its construction and improving the air quality of the space.
Of course there are many basements that have been transformed into extra rooms or even swimming pools if you look at the amount of multi million pound mega basements that are hitting the headlines. But what sets them apart for the standard is that the comforts of the environments they have created are comfortable and fresh – and you don’t need a huge budget in order to achieve this.
It is suggested that the ideal humidity level in UK homes be around 50-55%, so ensuring these types of forgotten spaces that we often use for storage or utility space (such as washers and dryers) are well ventilated will have a massive effect on the heath of your home and your family.
Having effective heating will also help with reducing dampness as well as improving the energy efficiency of your home. A cold basement will make the floor above colder and can result in heat loss. Good ventilation and heating will also make the space more useable, making this extra level more of a valuable asset.
As is the case the basements, the way you use your garage will have a major impact on the ventilation requirements of this space. For most of us in the UK, small garage space makes it the ideal location for sentimental junk, Christmas decorations, paint, tools and other hazardous items that you would rather be kept outside of your home. Therefore proper air circulation and extraction is important in keeping the garage free of moisture, fumes and nasty smells – all of which are damaging to your health and your items.
If you do actually use your garage to store your car the toxic fumes will be even more of a danger to your health and the heat of the fumes and car engine will increase the temperature, making it really stuffy – which isn’t great if your garage connects directly onto your home, or if you spend a lot of time in there. In fact if your garage does connect to your home, there is a chance that fumes and carbon monoxide may seep into your house via a connecting door or any cracks, affecting the air quality of your living space.
The safest way to ensure your garage is ventilated is with a mechanical ventilation system because, unlike with garage windows, these help keep your garage space free from intruders. In fact garages are some of the most common places to be burgled due to the high likelihood of there being bikes, tools and easy access into your main home.
Another option that is good for garages is rooftop vents due to the exposed roof area. Either way, the comfort and air quality of your garage should be something you think about and look to rectify if it is a problem.
If you look to add ventilation to any part of your home beyond the bathroom and the kitchen, I would recommend that you add it to the loft. The loft is an extremely important area of space separating your living area from the roof – and if you’ve ever had roof problems you know this is an extremely expensive issue.
Adding ventilation to the loft will help to mitigate problems such as mould and mildew that can seep through ceilings, rot joints and cause the rest of your property problems such as condensation on the walls and high levels of humidity – which isn’t comfortable for anyone.
Condensation in the loft also puts the items you have stored up there at risk of damage and it can reduce the effectiveness of the insulation you have – if your tank is also in the loft, this can enhance the problem further. Modern homes will be at a higher risk of this happening due to the air tightness of new builds. Double glazed windows and good insulation unfortunately causes water vapour (because the loft is cooler) to struggle to evaporate, so it’s worth checking the ventilation is your roof is adequate if you do live in this type of home.
Of course the benefits of an air tight home are that energy efficiency levels are greatly improved a concept that we need to ensure all our homes comply with over the next few years. An energy efficient home also helps you to save money on energy bills, so with the money you save, looking into a solution like mechanical ventilation allows you to get rid of water vapour before it condenses and causes any issues. Fortunately in some new build homes, mechanical ventilation comes as standard but if your home doesn’t, it’s worth contacting a roof specialist to hear on the options suitable for your property.
The problem with conservatory ventilation only really becomes apart in winter as moisture builds up and vapour appears on your windows. Unfortunately we all know what this means, more mould, more mildew, more problems. Once again the problem is worsened if your conservatory is airtight, and in summer this means it will be extremely hot.
A common way to solve these issues in conservatory spaces is with ceiling fans which help to circulate the warm air at the top, lowering the temperature in summer. In winter this does the reverse and keeps the space warm and dry. Unfortunately ceiling fans can cause draughts, are difficult to keep clean and obstruct the view out of the glass roof. A mechanical ventilation system however provides fresh filtered air and extracts stale air behind a small vent in your conservatory. Unlike ceiling fans they can also recover heat so that you maintain the efficiency levels of your home.