Healthy Housing Insight

Ventilation, Moisture Control and Indoor Air Quality

The relationship between ventilation, moisture control and indoor air quality is important to understand when designing and building a home.

Ventilation

Ventilation is needed as much in leaky houses as it is in tightly constructed houses, because the wind, the indoor-to-outdoor temperature difference, and the location and distribution of leaks cannot always be fully controlled.

-> Ventilation may be provided naturally or mechanically, however, it should be recognized that natural ventilation cannot be controlled effectively at all times. Mechanical ventilation which exhausts air from kitchens, bathrooms and other moisture generating rooms, and supplies outside air to the other habitable rooms, is most effective in controlling indoor moisture levels.

Moisture Control

Moisture control is essential in any home, but especially in those which are built in cold climates, such as in Canada. If moisture levels are too high in the home and air/vapour barriers are inadequate, it is possible for the moisture to migrate into the building assemblies. This may result

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in condensation within insulated assemblies, and the accumulation ol moisture which may damage the structure and components of the home. Condensation on windows may also result, leading to the deterioration ot window and sill finishes.

High moisture levels in the home may also promote the growth of molds and mildew. Many of these have been found harmful to human health, in addition to permanently staining finishes.

Indoor Air Quality

-Undoor air quality, is best controlled by eliminating sources of contarn ¡nation — select appropriate building materials and carefully consider products and lifestyle in the home.

Operating mechanical ventilation sensibly to control moisture and odours is all that is normally required to maintain acceptable indoor air quality in a home where sources of contaminants have been eliminated or rea sonably minimized.

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