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How to Install a Heat Recovery Ventilator

Newer, more energy efficient homes have been constructed to seal out the outdoor environment almost 100 percent. This condition allows loaded, stale air to accumulate unless windows are opened. Open windows allow some of the heating or air conditioning efficiency to escape. To remedy the situation, install a heat recovery ventilator that will pull fresh air through a heat exchanger and distribute it to rooms in the home while removing stale air.


  1. Decide on a good, central location for your heat recovery ventilator. A basement is a good location or near your forced air furnace if you are utilizing your existing ductwork. Place it near a 120-volt grounded electrical outlet.
  2. Install a support for the heat recovery ventilator unless it will be placed on a cement pad or other strong surface. These units can weigh up to 80 pounds, so plan a sturdy support.
  3. Use a large hole saw to cut holes through the outside wall for the intake and exhaust ducts, normally 4 to 6-inch round ductwork.
  4. Get through-the-wall kits with rainproof vent hoods and dust/insect barriers and install them in the two openings made in Step 3. Attach flexible ductwork to the intake and exhaust hoods and run to the heat recovery ventilator.
  5. Run flexible ductwork to a central location for the fresh air to be exhausted into your home, or attach it to the intake on your central heating/air conditioning appliance.
  6. Place a short piece of flexible ductwork from the heat recovery ventilator to pick up stale air from your home, preferably from the basement or a bathroom.
  7. Attach flexible condensate drain tubing to the ventilator housing and run it to a floor drain nearby.
  8. Connect your heat recovery ventilator to the nearby 120-volt grounded outlet. You may have to have an electrician install an outlet if there is none near your installation location.

Things You Will Need

  • Heat recovery ventilator
  • Electric drill with hole saw attachment
  • Through-the-wall kits with vent hoods
  • Flexible ductwork
  • Duct tape or connectors
  • Flexible drain tubing

Tips

  • This works well for installation in an unfinished basement.
  • You may want to run ductwork to all rooms in your house for fresh air distribution if you don't have existing ductwork to hook into, and place return ductwork to all bathrooms and the kitchen.
  • Choose controls that suit your application. The unit can be set to run continuously, for a set number of minutes per hour, or standby mode with the use of a timer or dehumidistat.

Warnings

  • Use proper eye, ear and hand protection when using power tools. Always use ground fault circuit interrupter on all extension cords used with power tools.
  • Ensure you will not drill into any electrical wiring when cutting holes through walls for ductwork.

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