Home Mechanical Systems
A home’s mechanical equipment works to provide a healthy and comfortable environment for occupants of the home.
Mechanical systems include all equipment used for space heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water heating. These systems add or remove heat, moisture, and air from your home as needed.
electrical, heating, air, and plumbing
Thermostats control warm air, cool air and ventilation in your home. The average indoor temperature in Canada is set to 21° Celsius. Changing the temperature 2-3 degrees from the average is the optimum point for energy savings. The more you lower the thermostat setting, the greater the possibility for savings. However, if you set the temperature too low, it can increase humidity and impact proper air circulation in your home.
Never turn your thermostat down below 15° Celsius, or shut off your furnace or hot water tank, even if you’re away from home. Also, do not place hot water heaters on vacation mode if you are away from your RHU. This prevents unnecessary damage and insurance claims, and protects you from mold or bacteria growth.
Bathroom and kitchen fans
Bathroom and kitchen fans are an important part of your home’s ventilation system. They enable exchange of air and remove moisture. Run bathroom and kitchen fans during and for 15 minutes after showering or cooking to ensure proper ventilation of moisture. This helps to prevent the occurrence of mould.
Heat recovery ventilators
Heat recovery ventilators are energy-efficient air exchange systems that enhance indoor air quality and ventilation. They introduce and circulate a continuous stream of fresh, filtered outdoor air to living areas of the home while exhausting stale air.
They are sometimes installed in military housing managed by CFHA to manage radon. To increase the indoor air quality in your home, plug in and use the heat recovery ventilator if one is installed in your home. Contact your local Housing Services Centre for more information.
Choosing a Mechanical System.
Houses in cold climates are usually a good fit for air source heat pumps (ASHPs) for heating and cooling. The most efficient type is the familiar units mounted high on a wall, but at some reduction in efficiency you can also choose from ceiling-mounted units, ones mounted low on the wall called floor units, or various ducted systems.
In some situations ground source heat pumps (sometimes erroneously called geothermal systems) can make sense, but they usually require a lot of energy to pump water through long lengths of pipe or deep wells, and risk contaminating groundwater in the case of failure. Plus their initial expense is usually much higher than air-source heat pumps.
ASHPs are available that will operate down to -20° or lower, so don’t believe contractors who say they don’t work in cold climates—find one familiar with this type of system. When there is a good building envelope, it’s not necessary to have an ASHP head in every room—it’s more cost-effective to use small amounts of electric resistance heat in auxiliary rooms like bathrooms, mudrooms and sometimes even bedrooms.
Woodstoves or fireplace inserts can provide supplemental heat, but they come with several concerns, including indoor air quality, keeping the building airtight and the particulate exhaust of the woodstove, which is a potent greenhouse gas.
Ventilation. In a Pretty Good House, mechanical ventilation is necessary to have good indoor air quality. The best approach is to use balanced ventilation with heat recovery. Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) exhaust stale air from the house and they use a simple radiator-like system called a core to pre-heat or pre-cool the incoming fresh air. With an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), moisture is also transferred. A couple of systems are available that can switch between the two types. Most systems are ducted from a central unit to the main spaces in the house, exhausting from areas that create moisture and odors, and supplying to living and sleeping areas. Others are point-source ventilators, meaning they ventilate single rooms. Which system is best depends on many factors, including climate, occupancy, and whether bathrooms are on the same system as the rest of the house. Some homes use exhaust-only ventilation, essentially leaving a bath fan running on low speed continuously. This usually saves money initially, but the energy saved using balanced ventilation eventually pays for itself, and because the incoming air is filtered instead of coming in through random gaps in the structure, the indoor air quality should be higher as well.
The Plumbing system of your home has two parts: one part brings fresh water into your home, and the other takes wastewater out. This first part, the water that enters your home, must be in a pressurized system that lets the water travel throughout your home, even to upper floors. The hot water system is separate from the cold because a pipe must travel through your water heating system before moving through the rest of the house.
Overall, your drainage system, which consists of vents, traps, and cleanouts, is built at a downward angle toward the public sewer lines or septic tank to remove waste from your home.
If you're familiar with the basic functioning of your main home's systems, you're better able to maintain your property. But certainly, you don't have to be an expert on any one system. The professional at Ragsdale Heating, Air, Plumbing & Electrical will keep each of your home's system functional with routine maintenance.