The UltimateAir® News

I (Don’t) Smell Danger

Posted on Thu, Jun 14, 2012

After working here a few weeks and getting a crash course in ERVs and the Passive House, I have started to discuss these topics with family and friends. Most of them are blissfully carefree about indoor air quality. It is not that no one has heard of IAQ issues. They might know all about Radon. Many homeowners can name sources of windowformaldehyde and other VOCs too. So the obvious question arises: what then, stops someone in the know from properly ventilating their home? The most popular response: "Money. I can't shell out the cash at the moment." Don't despair, Green Builders, because while there is honesty in their responses, it's not entirely true. Many homeowners would rather buy a new TV or finish their basement; they find it difficult to prioritize the invisible. But if you could constantly see nasty air being forced down your throat, wouldn't you do something about it? These toxins are small and subtle enough that we do not perceive them on our own. When we say "passive home" styles we don't mean "passively poisoned."



OK, so sometimes you do smell stenches. Let's say that you do come home and your pet has left you a present. Or perhaps you'll return from vacation this summer to a musty odor. You can open your door, but as was explained to me my first week here, your nose stops smelling it after 5 minutes, no matter what. That's right, it’s not an open window or spray freshener. It's your body acclimating to the smell.


As a coffee fiend, I was immediately reminded of Starbucks. Theirdescribe the image cafes exude a unique aroma. This smell is essential to the company's brand. Four years ago, they scrapped their egg-sandwich from the menu because its smell was overwhelming the traditional coffee bean scent. Needless to say, their customers raised a stink. This scent works so well because customers enter over and over again -- they grow to expect a certain smell. Because we are indoors 90% of the time we lose whatever scent there is. Whether we are coming, going, or just hanging around it is always there. It takes something like "Egg-sandwiches" to make us sit up and notice.



So what can we do about this? How do we convince ourselves and others to fix that we cannot sense? Not sure. However interesting, continuous discussion of IAQ is somewhat frugal amongst those already in the field. As an outsider, my best piece of advice is to find more like myself, and educate them however briefly on the importance of good Indoor Air Quality.



Please share this, and let me do some of the educating for you!
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Tags: Homeowners, Indoor Air Pollutants, indoor air quality, Clean Home Air, recoupaerator, Ventilation Strategy

Mechanical Ventilation and Defrost

Posted on Mon, Apr 30, 2012
If you live in a cooling dominated or less than 4000 HDD climate - you might skip this article.  Else - in the world of heat/energy recovery mechanical ventilation there exists this nemesis known as dew-point temperature.....  and when this is associated with really cold outside conditions - this results in frost accumulation on a heat (energy) exchanger core.  You have warm moist air from inside the building exposed to a very cold surface.  There is no magic here- condensation at best, and frost at worst is going to happen.  Basically- the manufacturer must ensure that the core is not exposed to conditions that will result in frost accumulation on the core.  Every manufacturer has slightly different strategies based on the design of the core.  The UltimateAir RecoupAerator’s core is a random matrix fiber - and as designed does not start to frost until outside temperature drop below 12 F.  That is assuming that inside relative humidity at around 70 F is at or above 25%RH....  inside relative humidity plays a big role in whether or not frost occurs.  

The most common defrost strategy employed by manufacturers is known as ‘recirculation defrost’.  This strategy temporarily allows the leaving air to be redirected into the incoming air duct to warm it up enough to keep the core from frosting.  This cylce is generally 25-75% of an hour, every hour depending on outside temperature.  NOTE- that while this is happening - there is no (or very little) fresh outside air coming in.  This effectively lowers your fresh air ventilation rate... and turns your mechanical ventilator into a recirculation fan pushing air around for little reason.

UltimateAir has provided a pre-heat - pulse modulated solution that allows for no decrease in ventilation.  This is the most efficient solution which ensures the fresh air required for the health of the occupants in the home.  This is one of many other methods that best keep the incoming air at or above 12 F.

That is the short of it.  Defrost is a fairly complex notion to discuss with regard to the cost associated with it.  Know that UltimateAir has your health in mind first.

Contact UltimateAir for more details.

Tags: recoupaerator, RecoupAerator Technical Training, Ventilation Strategy

Moisture, Mold and Indoor Air Quality

Posted on Thu, Feb 02, 2012

The Problem

Mildew is a mold that grows under warm (temperatures between 77 – 86 degrees F.), wet, and humid conditions (relative humidity between 62% - 93%).

Window condensation is one visible manifestation of excess humidity, but ideal conditions also are found lurking out of sight within wall cavities, in crawl spaces and attics.
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Under saturated conditions wood will rot, giving rise to frequent and expensive repairs, and mold spores serve as triggers for allergies and contribute to an unhealthy home environment.

You don’t have to open doors and windows to bring moisture into our home. Outside humidity, moisture generated in the home, vapor pressure (the drive that causes moisture to migrate to dryer areas), all contribute to the problem.  Exhaust only ventilation (bath fans, range hoods, dryers) as well as the stack effect from a chimney will accelerate the infiltration of outside humidity through poorly installed (or non-existent) air barrier. Cumulatively this moisture can add hundreds of pounds  of water per day to a home.

Solutions

Here is where an ounce of prevention is worth 100s of dollars of expensive water removal using dehumidification/air conditioning, building repairs and potentially medical expenses and even debilitating illnesses for family members.
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Remediation and Prevention

Building/remodeling right and ventilating right, along with occupant awareness to reduce moisture generation will have a major impact on the prevention of moisture issues that lead to mold growth.

The Building Envelope

Minimize paths of infiltration by sealing your home and adding insulation, install a vapor-permeable air barrier, prevent water from entering basements and crawl spaces with proper sealing, drainage, and landscaping.  Don’t forget to clean the gutters.

A Ventilation Strategy
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Install an Energy Recovery Balanced Ventilation System.  The UltimateAir® RecoupAerator,® model 200 DX will exhaust excess humidity (along with odors, stale air and pollutants) in the winter and leave a percentage of the humidity outside in the summer while bringing in an equal amount fresh filtered air.  This balanced ventilation approach will help prevent unwanted infiltration by keeping the home at balanced or slightly positive pressure most of the time.  It is also the most cost effective way to provide the ventilation necessary for a safe, comfortable and durable home.

A well-ventilated, balanced- pressure home with a 35 – 45% RH is one of the best investments you can make to prevent mold, reduce allergy triggers (both pollens and mold spores) and insure the health of your family.

UltimateAir's Jason Morosko writes about moisture, mold, indoor quality and other topics.  Stay tuned!  

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Tags: indoor air quality, Ventilation Strategy, Remediation, Prevention, Moisture, Mold