What is an air exchanger?
The air exchanger is a device that is increasingly present in modern Canadian homes. In fact, new constructions must now be equipped with them, under the Energy Efficiency Regulation. But what is this system, how does it work and what benefits can you gain from having it installed in your home? Find out all the answers in this article.
What is an air exchanger?
An air exchanger is a device with several elements that allows air to circulate from the inside of a house to the outside and back again. Basically, it is a big box with two inlets and two outlets, as well as a fan that will suck in the stale air before evacuating it to the outside, and another fan that will suck in the fresh air from the outside to diffuse it in the rooms of the house.
To save space and clutter, some air exchanger systems use existing heating and cooling ducts in the home. Thus, fresh air will circulate through the heating and cooling system. Nevertheless, it is possible that the air exchanger is completely independent from the other systems, which requires the installation of specially dedicated ducts.
The air exchanger is equipped with heat recovery technology. This way, it can provide cool air in your home without you having to pay more in bills on your air conditioning and heating. But another real role of air exchangers is to evacuate humidity from the ambient air that accumulates because of the house’s insulation. Thus, it eliminates the risk of mold growth in your home, leaving the occupants perfectly protected from the risk of infection by these microscopic fungi.
What are the different types of air exchangers?
There are two main types of air exchangers, namely energy recovery ventilators or ERVs and heat recovery ventilators or HRVs.
The energy recovery air exchanger or ERV
The energy recovery air exchanger recovers both heat and energy locked in the ambient humidity. It allows you to control the humidity level in your home to a level that suits you. Thus, in summer, it evacuates the humidity present in the air in the house and in winter, it will humidify the dry air in the rooms. It also saves money on heating and air conditioning by optimizing the performance of these devices through its energy recovery feature.
The heat recovery air exchanger or HRV
The heat recovery air exchanger has a system that will transfer some of the heat from the exhausted stale air to the incoming fresh air. While it optimizes the use of heating and air conditioning equipment thanks to its energy recovery system, it is not capable of controlling the humidity level, unlike the ERV.
How does an air exchanger work?
A perfectly insulated house is entirely hermetic, limiting exchanges between the interior of the rooms and the outside to a minimum. As a result, the air circulating in the house will be loaded with moisture and pollutants of all kinds caused by the daily activities of the occupants. An air exchanger is then necessary to evacuate the polluted air inside the house towards the outside and to introduce an equivalent quantity of fresher air from outside.
To do this, the air exchanger uses a system of ducts installed in the partitions that will lead to the fresh air distribution and exhaust air grilles. Each room in the house usually has distribution grilles. The exhaust of the stale air is located at the top, where pollutants and humidity tend to accumulate.
All fresh air and exhaust air ducts are connected to the air exchanger which will connect them to the outside. Also at this level, a main duct is dedicated to the fresh air intake, and another one will be used to evacuate the stale air. The air exchanger will manage the ventilation of the entire house.
What are the benefits of having an air exchanger installed in your home?
Here are the main benefits of installing an air exchanger in your home:
- Optimization of air circulation and reinforcement of natural ventilation;
- Usefulness of the air exchanger at any time of the year, in summer or winter;
- Purification of the air in order to evacuate the polluting agents, allergens and the various fumes generated by the activities of the occupants;
- Elimination of bad odors that can be deposited on clothes or food;
- Improvement of the respiratory health of the occupants of the house by reducing the risks of contracting pathologies such as asthma, allergies or pulmonary diseases;
- Elimination of the excess of humidity present in the air, thus limiting the development of mould, the formation of condensation at the level of the walls and the windows;
- Optimization of the efficiency of heating and air conditioning equipment through its heat and energy recovery function.
How to maintain an air exchanger?
As you have seen, an air exchanger offers countless advantages. Nevertheless, in order for your device to perform its role optimally for many years, it needs careful and periodic maintenance.
To do so, you must call upon the services of a qualified professional who will have the know-how, experience and equipment necessary to carry out this task. He will inspect the entire system and give you advice on how to optimize the operation of your air exchanger. The only maintenance you can do is to regularly clean the suction grid in case debris gets lodged there.
You can also clean and replace the filters yourself, but get professional help at first. Please note that not all filters can be cleaned. Some must be replaced as soon as they are dirty. Refer to your air exchanger’s user manual for details, or seek the advice of a heating and cooling contractor.