Air Exchange Ventilator

Okay it doesn’t sound as sexy as “passive solar” or “LED light bulb” but today we’re going to talk about our home’s “air exchange ventilator”.  I had to clean it out yesterday so I took some pics.  What is it you ask?  Let me tell you.

As you should know our house is super tight.  So air doesn’t or shouldn’t get in or out easily if all the doors and windows are closed.  Like an exclusive club downtown, we have a bouncer that determines who gets into our club.  It most houses, maybe even yours, air molecules run willy nilly all over like they own the place.  They come and go as they please.  And air molecules, typically in the heat of summer or cold of winter, are really awful critters.  See they sit on their lazy asses outside all day and night, and when they get too hot or cold the come into your house.  Did you invite them in?  Well yes cause they provide you with “oxygen” but I’ll tell you what if it wasn’t for that you probably wouldn’t want them cause like I said they come and go all the time.  Which is fine, we all have relatives like that, but let’s say it’s winter (it is by the way).  Where it gets annoying is the air molecules do very little to warm themselves up.  Look outside, see them all out on your lawn?  Yeah a couple are overachievers letting the sun warm them up but if there’s no sun and the wind is blowing….they say “screw this” and head for your house.  They come in through the cracks in your doors, around your windows, your roof, hell they come through your bathroom vents.  Anywhere you have a hole in your house.  Once inside they sit on your couch, hang out in your pantry, they even snuggle up with you in bed.  And they are super cold.  Cold feet in the morning? It’s the cold ass air molecules, I told you so.

So you try like hell to appease them by cranking up the thermostat, figuring if it’s warm they’ll stop bothering you and your family.  But like any pest this only makes things worse.  See, they come in, you get them warmed up, they drink your beer and then leave basically.  And they tell ALL their friends.  Next thing you know your thermostat’s up to 72 degrees and the wife bitchin’ at you to fire up the wood stove.  Meanwhile all those air molecules are inviting their cousins from Alberta to come down to your place and get warmed up.  Next thing you know you’re essentially operating a welfare state for lazy air molecules.

I’ll be damned if I run a welfare operation for air molecules.  So what we’ve done is first off, made our house super tight.  Now it’s not as tight as it could be but it tighter than probably 95% of other homes out there.  In a perfect world it’d be 100% tight. But then we’d suffocate so as I look out at all the sad, cold air molecules kicking stones in my front drive, pouting cause I won’t let them in, I’m forced to acquiesce and let them in since after all they have the oxygen we so desperately need.  But before I let any of them in there are some ground rules…just like the bouncer at the door to a hot new club.

Outside a big pipe in the side of the house all the air molecules line up, smiles on their faces cause they know I have a warm couch, XBox and beer.  We let them in and they enter the air exchanger.  And they love it ’cause the first thing we do is warm up their little molecule bodies, clean them up and comb their hair.   Then it’s off to the inside of the house, sporting their little fur coats of warmth, leaving the coldness behind outside.  Oh joy, they are so happy you can almost hear them as they run all over the house.  And the furnace easily keeps everyone comfortable ’cause our guests came in warmed up to start with.

Well after a while, you know how it goes, they can’t stay for ever.  They’ve unloaded their oxygen, picked up some CO2 and other foreign air born whatnot….and they’re getting lazy again, except this time it’s on my couch, or my bed or worse yet the bathroom.  Well, “time to go little guys” and the ventilator sucks them all out of the house.  Oh, one thing though, we take their little fur coats before we kick the air molecules to the curb.  There is only so much heat in the world and we can’t afford to have air molecules running around outside with our hard-earned heat.  Wouldn’t look good with the neighbors, people would talk.  And we’re not running a charity here. So the little guys go through the big heat exchanging core again and reluctantly hand off their warm little coats to the new air molecules coming in.  Thus the “exchange” part.  We keep all the heat inside the house…sucking it out of the air leaving and giving it to the air coming in.

Then we dump the stale air molecule asses through a big pipe to the harsh realities of the outside world.  From there we’re more than happy to welcome them back in, but only if they pick up some oxygen first.

I try not to look out the back window lest I see all of the now freezing air molecules looking longingly through the glass into our home.

In the Summer it’s just the opposite, we cool them off before inviting them inside.

Our air exchange ventilator is an 8100 model from Aprilaire.  I just have to clean the filter’s every 6 months and the core every 12 months.  It was a super easy job that took about a half hour.  I just used a shop vac to clean the filters, core (use a brush attachment) and the cavities.  The filters should be oiled as well.  All the directions are right there on the core so there’s no confusion.  Here’s a snippet from their website explaining the advantages:

Is the air your family breathes as fresh and healthy as it can be? An Aprilaire Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) is among the most efficient means of exchanging the air inside your home with fresh outdoor air. In winter months, the exclusive EnergyMax® Transfer Core uses the heat of indoor air to warm the incoming cold fresh air, recovering approximately 77% of the energy.

How Does It Work?
In the summer, warm fresh air passes near outgoing conditioned air, cooling it down. At no time do the stale and fresh air streams mix, instead they pass each other separated by thin walls that allow only the air’s energy to transfer, cutting your heating and cooling bills. The heart of the ERV is the EnergyMax Transfer Core which uses enthalphic technology enabling the transfer of moisture as well as heat into and out of your home.

The Aprilaire Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) provides a comfortable, healthy, noise-free, and safe means of exchanging stale, polluted indoor air with fresh outdoor air in your entire home year round.

Features 
There are numerous benefits to installing an Aprilaire Energy Recovery Ventilator in your home:

  • Installs as part of any central heating and cooling system
  • Provides a constant, controlled supply of fresh air to your home year round
  • Reduces excess indoor humidity levels
  • Reduces unhealthy indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde, <ahref=”index.php?znfaction=iaqproblems&category=health&problemid=12″>volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radon, carbon dioxide, smoke, odors, dust, bacteria and viruses and more
  • Saves energy by effectively retaining and utilizing the energy value from your indoor air
  • Ventilates homes up to 3,600 sq. ft. in size”

Unless you like throwing money away, or you feel guilty and feel all air molecules in the world should have access to affordable heat coverage, you should seriously look into getting your house sealed up super tight and adding an air exchange ventilator.

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