We have been getting a fair amount of questions and concerns regarding the smoke outside and what the proper setting for your HRV’s during these times. This is especially concerning for anyone with respiratory sensitivities. Having smoke or even ash from forest fires, or perhaps other environmental impurities that can happen throughout the year, infiltrate your home is definitely an issue that, at the very least, can be kept to a minimum.
One of the primary roles of an HRV is to switch the stale air in your home with fresh air from outside. Inside air is filled with all kinds of toxins from the off gassing of almost everything we buy not to mention carbon dioxide from the occupants. We want that air replaced with a fresh and oxygenated air which is so important for our health and all too often gets overlooked in our homes’ climate. It’s not ‘all’ about temperature.
So, what do we do when the outdoor air isn’t so fresh?
Well, how we handle this challenge really depends how polluted the outside air is and for how long. Short term fix is to simply turn off your HRV to stop it from taking in this smokey air and blowing it into our air ducts. Unfortunately, this also introduces other issues as many HRV’s are responsible for exhausting unwanted air and humidity. A decision has to be made as to what issue is more important to you at the time. Even if you decide to completely turn off your HRV this does not mean that no smoke will infiltrate your home. Whenever you turn on a kitchen range exhaust fan or run your clothes dryer or anything else that exhausts air like a central vac, this will create a ‘negative pressure’ in your home. That means that any chance it gets, the outdoor air will find a way to get inside to even out that pressure. Every time you open a door or at every crack or opening of your home.
Ideally, having a system installed that can handle these undesirables such as a Lennox Pure Air system, is the answer. This gets installed as a whole home filtration system in your ductwork right beside your furnace or air handler. This system handles smoke and smells along with a whole host of other unwanted pollutants. If you do not have a forced air HVAC system, there are also other stand alone pieces of equipment you can get which will aid in sponging any impurities and smells when they do find their way in as well.
So, feel free to turn off your HRV to stop it from bringing in the smoke, but be prepared for the other issues this may bring as well.