How Do HRV Systems Work & Do I Need One?

You may have already heard about HRV systems and their benefits, especially if you own a home or business in Vaughan. However, you might still be a bit fuzzy on the details of how heat recovery ventilation systems work and whether you actually need one for your property.

Read through this clear and concise guide to learn more about heat recovery ventilation systems and the many benefits they can provide to your home.

How Do Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) Systems Work?

HRV systems have a unique function. They comprise 2 side-by-side ventilation ducts equipped with blower fans, which are designed to ventilate the stale, stuffy air from inside your home or building and replace it by pumping in fresh air from outside. At the same time, they extract as much as 93 percent of the heat from your indoor air via plates in the heat exchanger core. They then transfer this heat to the incoming fresh air for maximum energy efficiency in winter.

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This process also removes moisture from the air for an improved level of relative humidity. Recommended indoor relative humidity is approximately 30 percent during the winter. This helps prevent window condensation, dust mite infestation (a common allergen), and mould growth.

A condo or small house can be ventilated effectively by just one wall-mounted heat recovery ventilator, but if you are installing a system for a large home or a business, you may need a ventilation grid in every room, as part of a web of ductwork connected to an outside ventilator.

Your HRV system should be kept in continuous operation. It’s true that this does require a certain quantity of energy to power the system’s fan. However, the relatively small amount required (usually 50-100 watts for residential use) will be offset by the energy savings heat recovery feature which the heat recovery feature provides. For additional energy efficiency, consider setting the heat recovery ventilator fan at LOW or MEDIUM and turning it up to high only when more powerful ventilation is required.

TIP: In the summertime, you can still use your HRV system — set on LOW — for ventilation purposes while you are running your air conditioner. However, you will want to switch the system off temporarily when your windows are open.

Do I Need An HRV System In Ontario?

Yes, actually you do… in a home built after January 1, 2017, that is. The Ontario Building Code was revised at that time to make HRV installation mandatory in all new homes. Even if your house in Ontario predates the revision, an HRV system is a very worthwhile addition. With minimal energy loss, an HRV system will keep your indoor air pleasant and safe to breathe while protecting your building against moisture damage.

What’s the science behind this device? Over the past couple of decades, since the 1992 changes to the Ontario Building Code, we Vaughan residents have begun sealing buildings for the sake of energy-efficient HVAC operation. Unfortunately, one side effect is that careful sealing and insulation will not only achieve your goal of keeping heated or cooled air inside; it will also trap moisture and contaminants — unless the building is effectively ventilated.

What Are The Benefits Of Installing An HRV System?

Removes Pollutants. Your stale indoor air may contain a high ratio of pollutants, such as bacteria, mould spores, pollen, dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and the like. An HRV system is designed to remove them.

Saves On Energy. Opening a window or two or turning on an exhaust fan is not the most practical way to ventilate your premises in Ontario’s often harsh climate. HRVs provide a better, energy-saving solution — ventilation without significant heat loss.

Removes Humidity. Excess indoor humidity is uncomfortable for occupants. It also can lead to mould growth, which is highly damaging to the structure and contents of your building. An HRV will remove this unwanted humidity.

Can Improve Sleep. You’re likely to breathe easier and enjoy better sleep after improving indoor air quality.

What Are The Downsides Of HRV Installation?

Requires High Initial Outlay. The heat recovery ventilation system itself is quite pricey, and together with expert installation, is likely to cost you several thousand dollars.

Are Most Suitable For Extreme Climates. A disadvantage often mentioned is that HRVs are most suited to regions with extreme climates, causing significant differences between outdoor and indoor temperatures. Of course, this describes the GTA’s weather conditions to a T, so it’s not a consideration for us.

How Much Maintenance Is Required For An HRV System?

The necessary maintenance shouldn’t take too much time or effort. The hardest part is remembering to do it! Here are the details.

Every time you open the unit: Check the drains. Wipe off any dust that has accumulated.

Every 3 months: Dust and rinse the system filters.

Every 6 months: Rinse the heat recovery ventilator core with clear water.

Our Goal Is Fresh Healthy Air For Your Home

Talk to Husky about Heat Recovery Ventilation today. We can help you achieve a healthier home by removing your indoor air quality.