Ventilation of houses, and for that matter any occupied building, is needed to maintain acceptable indoor air quality (IAQ), and to control indoor moisture levels. IAQ is important for reasons of human health and well being, which may be maintained through the ventilation of contaminants and odours. Failure to control interior moisture levels within the house can also impact human health if conditions which promote the growth of molds and mildew are not prevented. Further, the control of internal moisture levels is important to the integrity of the building envelope. Moisture migrating from the interior of the house to the outdoors may accumulate within the building envelope causing severe damage to the wood-frame structure. Ventilation may also be employed to cool the interior when high humidity levels occur.

Ventilation is provided in buildings through two primary means: natural ventilation, typically through operable windows; and mechanical ventilation, through some kind of mechanical ventilation system which exhausts indoor air or supplies outdoor air to the house, or both. The sections which follow describe these two means and their key requirements under the National Building Code.

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