Ventilate Your Home – What, Why and How

What is Ventilation?

Ventilation refers to the exchange of indoor and outdoor air.

Why is it Important to Ventilate Your Home?

Good ventilation is essential to refresh the air quality and remove unpleasant odours, excess carbon dioxide, moisture and fumes from your property. As the build quality of homes improve, properties get better insulated and become easier to heat. This means it is even more important to have good ventilation to prevent the air in your property from becoming stale and damp.

Without proper ventilation, a well-insulated property could seal in:

  • harmful pollutants (like carbon monoxide and radon)
  • unpleasant odours (from cooking and drying of clothes)
  • moisture (from breath vapour, perspiration, showering, having a bath, cooking, drying of clothes, water leakages) which can lead to mould growth, rot, pest infestation, ruin insulation and damage the structure of a house (especially a wooden one, which is the norm here in Norway)
  • mildew which can cause or worsen allergic reactions

In addition, elevated levels of humidity can make heaters/air conditioners work harder, leading to more costly energy bills.

If you are living in a rental property, be sure to look after the property as though it were your own – house owners can and will claim for damages should poor ventilation lead to excessive wear and tear on the property.

Types of Ventilation

  • Natural Ventilation – movement of air in and out of a property through cracks in doors, windows. This is more common for older properties which do not or have few other ventilation methods going. Newer properties are generally well insulated.
  • Manual Ventilation – opening of doors and windows to ventilate the property; ventilation vents located around the property
  • Spot Ventilation – extractor fans and range hoods located in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms
  • Ventilation System – a system of controlled fans to systematically ventilate the property and maintain an optimal indoor climate. Often found in new or newly renovated properties.

How to Ventilate?

Ventilating your property is a combination of the physical structure and aspects of the property as well as the types of ventilation available in the property.  It is also important to identify the sources of pollutants, odours, moisture and mildew and prevent the causes.

Here are some tips on how to ventilate your property:

  • Should you have a ventilation system in your property, be sure to read the user manual carefully and learn how to utilise the system and controls. Same goes for the extractor fans and range hoods – learn how to use them correctly.
  • Ensure that the extraction fans and range hood vent outside the property and that the air is not re-circulated in the property.
  • Be sure to make ventilation part of your daily routine.
  • Keep the ventilation valves of the doors and windows in your property open.
  • Open doors and windows at least once a day for a few minutes (even in the winter) to allow fresh air from outside into your home.
  • When sleeping, keeping a window open slightly will aid with ventilation. We produce quite a bit of moisture just by breathing and perspiring. Be sure that the window is secured such that burglars will not be able to enter.
  • When cooking, be sure to switch on the range hood on full and keep it going at the minimum level for some time after. Open windows to create a cross-draught so the exchange of air takes place faster.
  • When drying clothes on a rack or using the dryer, open a window or switch on the extractor fan so moisture and odours can escape.
  • Have the extraction fan on while you are showering or having a bath. Open the window after your shower or bath to let excessive moisture escape.

Prevention and Maintenance/Improving Air Quality in the Property

  • Ensure that the extraction fans, range hood filters and ventilation filters are cleaned regularly. Dirt and dust will reduce the effectiveness of ventilation.
  • Minimise the risk of water entering your property by keeping drains and gutters debris-free.
  • Ensure that minimal-use areas like the basement and loft are not harbouring water.
  • Do not allow smoking indoors.
  • Have fuel-burning appliances well maintained and properly checked by technicians at least once a year.
  • Don’t idle the car, lawnmower or other appliances which can produce fumes indoors or in the garage.
  • Never use charcoal grills indoors.
  • Test for radon (if you are living in a rental property, this is compulsory for the house owners to carry out for properties below 3 storeys). If present in high amounts, hire in professionals to eradicate and/or reduce the problem. Read more about radon.
  • If painting your property, use paints with reduced pollutants.
  • Do not store open paint containers indoors.
  • Check lofts and basements for leaks and excessive water.
  • Candles add to the cozy atmosphere in the home but do not forget that the burning of candles releases many fumes into the air which need to be removed from the indoor climate.