When Does a House Need Air?

You might think that a home can never be too airtight; after all, everyone knows that sealing cracks and eliminating drafts is the surest way to greater heating and cooling efficiency. However, there is a certain amount of air flow that any home requires to remain fresh and functional. In other words, even your house needs to breathe! Keep reading to learn why this is the case and how to tell if your castle is too impenetrable for its own good.

So, what are some of the reasons for why you want outside air to be able to enter your house? First of all, a lack of air flow will cause the atmosphere in your abode to become stale and musty. A completely airtight dwelling will be unable to expel excess moisture and old air. The second issue is a more serious one. Any fuel-burning appliance in your home requires oxygen to work correctly. If it does not get enough fresh air, it can result in incompletely-burned fuel and carbon monoxide production. This is why it's always important before any ignition to be sure that the ventilation is not damaged or blocked.

While you might not realize it, exhaust fans can actually exacerbate problems with fumes or moisture if the home is too airtight. For every bit of air that they expel, an equal amount must be drawn into the house from elsewhere in order to equalize the pressure. If there is nowhere else for air to enter the home, fans can actually create negative internal pressure. This negative pressure can result in a backdraft, where the expelled exhaust from appliances is sucked back into the house.

Here are some simple signs that might point toward inadequate air supply in your house:

  • The air inside your home is usually stuffy or stale.
  • Excessive condensation is dripping down your windows.
  • The pilot light on your appliance goes out.
  • A gas flame burns yellow instead of blue (except for natural gas fireplaces).
  • The smell of exhaust gases is present in your home; although you cannot smell carbon monoxide, other exhaust gases do have an odor.

If you notice any or all of these issues in your house, you should consider contacting an expert to evaluate the home's condition and provide a solution.

Source: Let The House Breathe