Paul Williams, Domus Ventilation Product Manager explains that, when it comes to domestic ventilation systems, quality counts
The word ‘quality’ gets bandied about all over the place. Let’s face it, no sane company is going to say their products and services aren’t good quality. When it comes to ventilation, it’s no different: everyone seemingly makes good quality ventilation products and systems. But how do you define quality and is it actually important?
Yes, quality matters
In the world of ventilation, quality really does matter. Using poor quality products will most likely result in a ventilation system that is unable to deliver the air flow required to comply with Building Regulations – and make for an uncomfortable environment in which to live. But that’s not all; it could also make for a noisy system and one that leaks condensation onto walls and ceilings, leading to the formation of mould which is not only unsightly but can be hazardous to health.
Product: make or break
With whole house ventilation systems featuring Mechanical Extract Ventilation (MEV) and Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) as the main means of meeting the revised Part F Ventilation of Building Regulations, the quality of these units can make or break a system. A good quality unit will have a low Specific Fan Power (SFP), which reduces energy consumption and directly impacts on a property’s Dwelling Emission Rate (DER).
In the case of MVHRs, a thermal bypass for the summer months and integral humidity sensors are key features to look out for. Also be sure to check the proficiency of the heat exchanger, which is a key component. The heat exchangers featured within our Domus HRXE range of MVHRs enable up to 95% of waste heat to be recovered.
If MEV and MVHR units are seen as the heart of the ventilation system, they can only function efficiently if the arteries – the ducting – is of a similarly good standard. Invest in quality ducting that has been designed to work in harmony as part of a system and has been third party tested for end-to-end system performance.
A good quality ducting system will have exacting tolerances and push fits together for minimal air and moisture loss and maximum system efficiency. It’s easy to spot poor quality ducting as the channel or pipe bows, or looks like it is concave, or the wall thickness appears uneven. And never use flexible duct work in place of rigid ducting as it causes a lot more air resistance and can be crushed easily.
A quality ducting system will also come with a range of useful accessories to help you meet site circumstances, along with dedicated ducting insulation and firestopping products.
System design: start with the ‘building blocks’
Of course, you can have the best ventilation products in the world, but if the system design is not up to scratch, then it won’t lead to the results you expect. So quality matters here too.
Whilst some might think the ventilation unit should be the starting point, it’s actually the ducting drawing that needs to come first; before unit specification and before the other services (gas, water pipes etc) go in as otherwise you will need to add more duct work to get around these obstacles.
Ducting drawings are not easy, but ‘quality’ manufacturers will be able to provide these for you, so be sure to take advantage of this service. Domus Ventilation provides individual system drawings free of charge, along with duct take-offs and estimations.
Installation: don’t cut corners
An issue that was highlighted when reviewing the previous set of Building Regulations was the dearth of compliance. Many cited the complexity of the old Building Regulations being the issue, but deliberate changes on site to reduce costs and make for a quicker installation are also to blame.
Over the years we have witnessed just about all the mistakes that could be made on site, from installers trying to simplify duct runs to save time and money; using flexible duct work at final connections or around obstructions such as steel beams; using the wrong size air bricks and incorrect size air valves; not using ducting insulation, and a whole lot more.
With the revised Building Regulations ‘Approved Document F, Volume 1: Dwellings’ (ADF1), which came into effect in 2022, the ventilation rate calculations have been considerably simplified and reporting has been tightened up to drive compliance and, ultimately, system quality. Be sure to follow them!
A final word
Quality does come at a cost and there will always be a balance between these two factors. But quality ventilation products are often designed with easy – and therefore quick – installation in mind. Opting for lower cost product may well end up being a false economy.
Domus Ventilation is a manufacturer of market-leading ventilation systems that save energy and improve indoor air quality. For further information on the product range visit Residential – Domus Ventilation.