The Lungs of Your Home

Why Ventilation Matters – The Importance of Investing in Modern Ventilation

Turning the key in the front door of your new home is a special moment in anyone’s life. You have spent years designing your dream home and finally it has all come true. From the roadside, it looks like a picture on a canvas. On the inside, you’ve paid particular attention to the finer details. The insulation, airtightness and heating system, all top spec and well above the standards. This is where you will spend the next chapter(s) of your life.

You have taken great care to block all the pinholes in the fabric of the house. Why wouldn’t you? The more heat your house retains, the less you must spend to replace it. The savings can go towards the family holiday in the summer. While you will take pride in your home on the outside, will you be as happy with it on the inside? Will you have the air quality your family needs to live comfortable and healthy lives or will you end up living in a stuffy box? You might be able to heat your home with the proverbial matchstick but will it be worth it if your entire family catches every common cold your children’s classroom has to offer?

Most of us will have grown up in colder/ draughtier houses than where we live now. However difficult our parents’ houses were to heat, most of us will have experienced very little, if any, mould. This is somewhat of a modern-day phenomenon. We are generating much more humidity than we did in the past. We have replaced the bath with the pumped shower. We tend to favour the clothes horse in the living room over the clothesline in the garden. The result of both is higher indoor humidity levels, leading to an increase in mould growth and associated health issues such as asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Most people spend more than 15-20 hours a day indoors. During this time, an average person drinks around 2 litres of water and eats 1-2 kg of food. Considerable attention is given to the ingredients in this food and how it is produced. We won’t let anyone serve us GM foods. Organic varieties are the choice of the day. However, the fact that each person breathes 10-15 kg of air each day doesn’t seem to concern us quite as much. We don’t question the content of this air in the same way as we do our food. Why not? We fear and refuse to eat fruit heavily treated with pesticides. It appears that even gluten has had its day. We’ll always look for the Bord Bia Quality mark at the supermarket, and rightly so. We want the best for our families. Yet, we are happy to subject ourselves, in many cases, to high levels of CO2, humidity and harmful VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) in our homes.

Over the last 10 years, our building industry and regulators alike have concentrated their efforts on reducing heating bills. They were far too high and unsustainable. Through the implementation of improved building practices, we have succeeded in reducing carbon emissions significantly. We have learned a lot.

But, as with any steep learning curve, collateral damage can be expected. Ireland’s blinkered approach to building sustainable homes had resulted in many homes having little or no ventilation. Inadequate extract levels from our bathrooms has led to moisture-related problems being locked in causing, in some cases, irreparable damage to our homes. The passive wall or window vent is now being seen for what it really is… a token gesture, an antiquated piece of plastic that has no place in modern-day building.

We have learned that you cannot insulate correctly without ventilating correctly. We have, for the most part, gotten our heating systems right. We have also learned how to build airtight homes. It’s time now to put the last piece of the puzzle together and insist that well-designed and installed mechanical ventilation systems are installed in our homes. They are, after all, the modern-day lungs of our homes.

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