The “V” in HVAC stands for ventilation. Although it’s commonly overlooked, good ventilation is key for optimizing the health, safety, and overall comfort of your Oviedo, FL, home. This is especially true in your laundry room where temperature control, humidity control, fire safety, and indoor air quality (IAQ) are all special concerns. Although local building codes require moderate amounts of laundry room ventilation, taking a few extra measures to improve this space is often essential. The following is everything you need to know about properly ventilating your laundry room.
Top Considerations When Adding Ventilation to Your Laundry Room
There are several key reasons why laundry room ventilation is important. If done right, the addition of ventilation will make it easy and enjoyable to use your washer and dryer year-round. You won’t have to worry about adding excess heat and humidity to your home, and you can avoid recurring problems with mildew and mold. Good ventilation can even keep freshly washed clothes smelling clean even after they’ve been stored in an idle washing machine for hours.
Other benefits of ventilating this space are safety-oriented. If your dryer isn’t correctly vented and if its vent is never professionally cleaned, you have a major lint-fire hazard in your home that could lead to the destruction of the entire building. The moisture that’s released during your washing machine’s spin cycle and when your dryer is set to “high heat” can leave you with fungal growths that damage building materials, diminish your indoor air quality, and migrate to other rooms.
By design, residential buildings are capable of naturally “breathing” through a process known as induction. This occurs via small cracks in building materials that allow stagnant, indoor air to flow out and fresh, outside air to seep in. By tightening your home’s envelope, you prevent the energy waste that this “breathing” invariably causes so that more of your conditioned air remains inside of the building and your HVAC system uses less energy overall.
However, envelope tightening in any area of the home has both benefits and drawbacks. Moreover, the drawbacks of these efforts are intensified when they become especially aggressive and when they prevent the inflow of fresh air in small, confined, and inherently contaminated spaces like your laundry room. After all, this is where many homeowners are using chemical-laden dryer sheets, detergents, fabric softeners, and other products, and where they’re exposing these same products to high heat.
To minimize the drawbacks of envelope tightening while still preventing energy loss in this space, homeowners are advised to install one or more types of mechanical ventilation that clears the air, assists with humidity regulation, and limits unwanted temperature changes.
Install an Energy Recovery Ventilator
Energy recovery ventilators or ERVs are considered the most effective options for ventilating laundry rooms. These units mimic a building’s natural “breathing” abilities by drawing hot, humid air out and replacing it with air that’s collected from the outdoors. ERVs are also great for reducing the amount of airborne contaminants in laundry rooms, including particulate matter from dryer lint, dust, off-gassed chemicals from unsealed building features, and contaminants from detergents and other like products.
In the winter months, having one or more ERVs installed in your laundry room could eliminate the need for a whole-house dehumidifier. If your walls “sweat” or if your windows are covered in condensation whenever your clothes dryer is on, you can use an ERV to quickly and cheaply resolve the problem. In summer, an ERV can also limit demand on your HVAC system by reducing the temperature and humidity in your laundry room and by preventing the spread of residual dryer heat to other indoor areas. Having an ERV can even extend the lifespan of your heater and air conditioner by reducing the amount of wear that they ultimately sustain. With one or more ERVs, you’ll have improved indoor air quality, a smaller carbon footprint, and a more comfortable living environment overall.
Have a Window Put In
If your laundry room doesn’t currently have a window, consider having one installed. This addition will provide a remarkable array of functional and aesthetic benefits. You can flood this typically dim and poorly lit room with lots of natural light. You can also open your window wide to clear out off-gassed chemicals and other contaminants.
However, there are several important things to remember when using this strategy. To start, depending upon the location of your laundry room, adding a window could result in significant solar heat gains during the mid-portion of the day. Rather than airing out hot air from your dryer, you could create a space that’s absolutely sweltering whenever the sun is at its highest point. Moreover, laundry room windows only work for ventilation when they’re left open for sufficiently long periods of time. You’ll need to keep this window open whenever your washer or dryer is running and for at least 10 to 15 minutes after the last cycle has ended. This can prove problematic on rainy and excessively windy days. It’s also a step that’s easy to forget.
Install One or More Exhaust Fans
Much like bathrooms, laundry rooms can be effectively ventilated with either windows or exhaust fans. However, as with windows, exhaust fans must be used correctly to supply the intended benefits. These fans should be kept running throughout the duration of all wash and dry cycles. They should also run for several minutes after each cycle has finished.
Proper exhaust fan placement is critical for protecting your property. Laundry rooms are typically located in low-lying areas. As such, ceiling fans must be ducted to release hot air outdoors. Sending hot, humid air straight to your attic can cause serious mold and humidity problems here. If venting air from a ceiling fan outside isn’t possible, consider installing your exhaust fan on the laundry room’s exterior wall.
Ductless Mini-Splits and Remote Building Areas
Ductless mini-split systems are a costly yet popular choice for heating and cooling homes that lack HVAC air ducts. They’re also perfect for addressing indoor areas that aren’t connected to central HVAC systems. They work great in remote building areas like attic bedrooms, finished basements, and garages. When used in a supplemental fashion in these spaces, they provide reliable temperature control, humidity regulation, air filtration, and ventilation.
Depending upon the size of your laundry room, its layout, location, and ventilation needs, it may be a prime place to add an additional air handler if you plan on using a mini-split in other remote and under-serviced areas. However, using these appliances in laundry rooms comes with a number of challenges. To start, ductless mini-split air handlers are rarely installed in spaces that are incredibly small. In laundry rooms that are perpetually humid, these systems can additionally lack sufficient power for extracting all excess moisture. The good news is that when they’re right for the environment, these additions can provide remarkable increases in both indoor comfort and indoor air quality.
We help residents of Oviedo explore all of the latest options in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. We offer first-rate air conditioner and heater installation, maintenance, and repair services. We’re also a trusted supplier of ductless mini-split systems. If you need help ventilating your laundry room, give American Air & Heat a call now!