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Can a House Be Too Airtight?

Posted by Jordan on Feb 13, 2015 12:35:45 PM

Proper Home Air Ventilation Helps Your Living Space Breathe

In your lifetime, you’ve probably heard someone say, “let’s open a window and let the house breathe.” Of
Can a house be too airtightcourse, homes don’t really breathe  people do. They were referring to the fact that the home had stale air inside – cooking smells, a still feeling, or an issue with the humidity – and they wanted fresh air circulating through. That’s great for days with perfect weather, but winters in Minnesota don’t allow for us to open windows without wasting the energy it takes to keep our homes warm. In fact, we try our hardest to seal them up tight and winterize them to save on heating costs. So, can a house be too airtight, or do we need to let it breathe every once in a while? The answer lies in the ventilation.

Sealing Affects Home Air Quality 

Air sealing a home starts with sealing your home from air leaks. Home air leaks can waste a lot of money. “one of the quickest energy- and money-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal, and weather strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside.”

Sealing your home from outdoor elements is a must. It stops: 

  • Energy loss.
  • Moisture and humidity from coming in, which can cause mold.
  • Allergens like pollen and dust from entering the house.
  • Insects and other critters from making their way in and causing damage.

Sealing most definitely affects air quality in a good way, but only if you have proper ventilation. If you don’t, it can be hazardous. 

The Wonderful Sensation of Ventilation

Of course we know that stale air not only smells bad, but it’s also a dangerous warning sign that the air inside your home needs to be circulated. While opening a window during harsh weather isn’t a viable option for healthy indoor air quality, having a good ventilation system is.

Why is it so important? Well, ventilation makes up the “V” in your home’s HVAC system. Ventilation is just as important to keeping comfortable and safe in your home as heating (the “H” in HVAC) and air conditioning (the “AC” in HVAC). 

However, a tightly sealed house needs mechanical ventilation to make sure a steady supply of fresh air is being exchanged with the old air in the home. Without it, you could be breathing in the same stale, uncirculated home air, which can contain pollutants, allergens, carbon monoxide, radon, or other hazardous elements. 

Newer ventilation systems now include a heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) as part of the HVAC system. HRVs not only provide the best air quality but also energy efficiency by transferring the heat from the warm inside exhaust air to the fresh, colder, outside air. Once heat is transferred in the HRV system, then it can enter the house’s atmosphere. Despite the name, it helps cool it in summer, too.

Your home may not be the one breathing in the fresh air, but it will reap the benefits from staying sealed and ventilated, and so will your family. Just remember, you should make your home airtight, but you have to make sure its ventilated right!


For more energy saving and home comfort tips, visit! Stay Comfy, Minnesota is your Minnesota resource for air conditioning repair, furnace repair and HVAC tips and advice. 

Topics: Air quality