Have you heard the advice that your home shouldn’t be sealed too tightly because it needs to breathe?

But here’s the thing: people need to breathe, houses don’t.

This advice was probably born a few decades ago when houses were going through major transitions. Insulations were being developed, new products like energy-efficient windows and doors were being installed, and mechanical ventilation didn’t quite keep up with the process. It created inefficiencies throughout the home.Does Your House Really Need To Breathe?

The problems weren’t because of sealing up the home. Instead, they were caused by lack of systems thinking. And so we saw things like:

  • Poor indoor air quality
  • Backdrafting of combustion appliances
  • High humidity
  • Mold and mildew growth

These things still occur today if your house isn’t built correctly or additions are made without taking your entire ventilation system into consideration.

Mechanical ventilation solves this by controlling the inflow of air. If random leaks occur throughout your home, they allow air to slip in and out of your home in less than efficient ways. A leak near your garage could allow highly toxic fumes to seep in, impacting your health and possibly creating dangerous living conditions, for example.

Backdrafting can also be a problem. When air is coming down the flue pipe, the exhaust gases can’t go up the flue pipe. That changes the combustion process, making it more likely for carbon monoxide to develop and dump into the home.

The third problem is high humidity. This can be controlled by selecting properly sized air conditioning equipment and a good ventilation system that doesn’t trap moisture. When you select an oversized AC unit, it doesn’t operate long enough to dehumidify the environment. The ventilation system is designed to remove the moisture before it becomes a problem. But if it doesn’t have the time to operate properly, it can allow things like mold and mildew to begin to grow.

Your house doesn’t breathe, but it does need to be able to allow moisture to dissipate. That’s why your building materials need to be properly sized and in place to allow the transfer of heat and moisture to take place. Things need to dry out when and if they get wet.

Is your home functioning properly?