Whole Home Ventilation: What Is It And How Can I Improve It?

In a recent article, we briefly discussed what the different components of your HVAC system do and how they work. Today, we want to delve a little deeper into ventilation; the “V” in HVAC.

a woman opens a window to ventilate the apartment. fresh air in the room

What Do You Mean When Mean When You Say Ventilation?

Home ventilation deals with how air circulates between the rooms in your home and the outside environment. It helps move air through your home, purifying it and removing unwanted dust, allergens, and smells. It also helps control moisture and humidity, keeping the air in your home fresh.

Why Is Home Ventilation Important?

Proper home ventilation keeps your family healthy and home comfortable. Whether it’s via a forced air system, natural ventilation, or other mechanical means — which we will get to later — home ventilation systems rid your home of airborne particles like dust and allergens that can cause serious health issues.

Additionally, ventilation systems control the humidity and moisture levels in your home, saving you from uncomfortably humid rooms and structural damage caused by excess moisture.

What Kind Of Home Ventilation Options Are There?

Depending on the age of your home, the climate you live in, and your ventilation needs, you could either have mechanical ventilation, natural ventilation or a combination of the two.

  1. Natural ventilation

    uses the gaps, cracks, and small holes in your home’s structure — along with windows and passive vents — to allow air to move uncontrolled throughout your home. Usually found in older homes, these types of systems dilute the air pollutants in your home enough to keep your family healthy.


    – Cheap

    – Often already “built-in” to older homes


    – Cannot be controlled

    – Does not ventilate home uniformly

    – Can be expensive when temperature control is an issue

    – In mild weather, it may not remove enough pollutants from the air

    – During cold or windy weather, your home may become drafty and uncomfortable

  2. Mechanical ventilation

    uses things like fans, range hoods, and whole-house ventilation systems (forced air systems, etc.) to move the air throughout your home. Since much of the emphasis in home-building today is energy efficiency, many homes are built to be “airtight.” While this is good for combatting energy leakage, it often means mechanical ventilation systems are needed to circulate air throughout these “airtight” homes.


    – Effective for uniform ventilation

    – Air is purified using filters

    – Can be either whole-house or single-room systems

    – Can be integrated into heating and cooling systems like forced air units


    – The bigger these systems are, the more energy they use

  3. Mixed ventilation

    systems are actually used in most homes built over the last 30 to 40 years. Even homes in temperate climates that rely on natural ventilation for cooling use mechanical “spot ventilation” to remove excess air pollutants and moisture at the source. For example, your home ventilation system may be natural, but you most likely have range hoods in your kitchen and exhaust fans in your bathroom.


    – Provides more complete ventilation for the entire home

    – Can save money by only using mechanical ventilation where it is necessary


    – The natural ventilation in your home may not be enough in high allergen seasons

How To Improve The Air Quality Of Your Current Ventilation System

If you are experiencing poor ventilation, there are a few things you can do to help circulate the air and remove pollutants from your home:

– Consider purchasing a high-efficiency furnace filter for your heating and cooling unit. High efficiency furnace filters trap more microscopic particles than typical furnace filters, keeping the air you breathe healthier. Look for MERV 8 and above for your home.

– Support your ventilation system with tools like air cleaners, air purifiers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers depending on your ventilation needs. These forms of mechanical ventilation can be used as spot ventilation to help keep the air in rooms you spend the most time in cleaner.

– Call an HVAC professional. If nothing else is working to increase the ventilation in your home, you may have problems with your primary ventilation system or your home’s natural ventilation. If you decide you do need an HVAC professional, visit HVAC.com and use our Find a Contractor tool to locate a trustworthy licensed HVAC professional in your area.

What type of ventilation does your home use? Do you have any other questions about the ventilation in your home? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Leave a Reply