Happy Holidays! (Is Your HRV/ERV Clean?)


For those of us in the northern part of the US, we’ve entered the time of the season which frequently finds us indoors with the windows closed. It is the perfect time of year to make soup, invite over the neighbors for a visit, and keep the house nice and toasty!

Of course, the building science nerds in the room will read that last sentence as an indicator for increased humidity, respiration byproducts (including CO2 and biological agents), and even possible combustion byproducts in our homes. We love a good bowl of soup and toasty home as much as the next person; we also know the importance of good indoor air quality to protect the health and safety of our buildings, and the wonderful people and animals that live in and use our buildings.

If you have worked with New Frameworks before, we may have installed a whole-house heat or energy recovery ventilation system (HRV/ERV). If so, now is the perfect time to make sure you are keeping up on your maintenance schedule! Here is a quick list of things to remember to make sure your system is running safely and efficiently, and that you are getting all the fresh air you need in your home:

  1. Always turn your system off first! Most of these units simply plug into an outlet. If they are hardwired, turn off the breaker and confirm the power is no longer reaching the unit.

  2. Clean your filters. This should be done quarterly, although that will vary based on the amount of dust and debris in the outdoor and indoor air. Most units have removable filters that can be vacuumed and/or washed with warm soapy water. If your filters are damaged or otherwise unable to be cleaned, replace them! This is a simple and quick task - remember that clean filters are critical to the function of the system.

  3. Check the outdoor intake and exhaust hoods. Make sure they are not blocked by snow, clogged with leaves, or damaged by critters.

  4. Inspect the condensate drain. HRVs and some ERVs will have a clear tube at the bottom of the unit to drain any condensate away. Make sure the tube is connected to the drain pan of the unit, unclogged and can drain freely, and is routed into an appropriate drain location. If the tube runs to a condensate pump, make sure the pump is plugged in and operational to avoid leaking or flooding. If you are unsure if the drain and pump are working, slowly pour a pint or two of clean water down the tube to confirm everything is working smoothly.

  5. Clean the heat exchange core. Most units have a removable heat exchange core that should be removed annually to be cleaned. Some require vacuuming, while others require soap and water and a mild wiping or soaking. Consult your manual for specific maintenance instructions.

  6. Check the ducts and grilles. Make sure the ducts aren’t loose or disconnected, or damaged by stored materials in the closet or basement. Check the grilles over the registers and give a quick vacuum or wipe to remove any built-up dust and grime; if they are easily removable, pop them off and confirm the insides of the ducting looks ok and that they are well-seated.

  7. Service the fans and conduct any additional required maintenance. There are lots of different types of HRV and ERV systems; some require maintenance for their fans, or for other components in the system. Always consult your owners manual for appropriate maintenance steps to avoid damaging your system and to make sure it is functioning correctly.

This is the best time of year to make sure your ventilation system is running clean and providing your home with fresh, filtered, conditioned air. If we helped to install a system in your home and you have any questions or concerns about its operation or maintenance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us - we are here to help! If you don’t have a ventilation system installed and would like to learn more about indoor air quality and ventilation, drop us a line, we’d love to chat.

From all of us at New Frameworks, we wish you the best and brightest of seasons and a wonderful year ahead. Happy holidays!