Building Codes

Building Codes

Know how your local area building codes and state ordinances come into play when considering your home ventilation system.

Standard Building Code Resources

Let’s take a look at some of the most important and reliable authorities on building codes, practices, and regulations. Links to each institutions’ websites are found below

The International Residential Code (IRC) Standard

When it comes to designing, constructing, and implementing various building systems within a new project, construction professionals must adhere to very specific guidelines. One of the most crucial building codes available is the International Residential Code Standard (IRC), a doctrine defining the necessary best practices for one- or two-family residential homes.

The document in its entirety can be found here, but for this section we will only be covering how it pertains to home ventilation requirements. The IRC was designed by the International Code Council, a premier regulatory group that provides comprehensive building guidelines to ensure safety and health requirements are met across borders.

To see the exact language used in the IRC’s venting ordinances, click here. The document goes into exact detail regarding specifications for each venting system.


ASHRAE Standards For IAQ and Ventilation

Another set of crucial building codes which homeowners and contractors alike should understand are the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards.

ASHRAE is a leading global authority and professional association on HVAC engineering, design, and construction. Their standards regarding ventilation and indoor air quality (IAQ) are consistently upheld within local and state ordinances, and it is likely that The ASHRAE Ventilation and IAQ Standards cover the minimum ventilation requirements, including rates and mechanics, for new and existing buildings. The goal of these standards is to ensure each ventilation system utilized within a building meets a level of indoor air quality that is “acceptable to human occupants and minimizes adverse health effects.”

Finding Your Local Ordinances

In addition to regulations considered standard across international lines, it’s important to understand the local and regional ordinances which govern building construction.

There are a number of free resources available online for searching and finding building codes near you. If you are looking for ventilation building codes as designated by state, check out the State-By-State code archive. Through here, you can search each state’s official website for specific ventilation building code requirements.

Construct Connect’s website offers a slightly more in-depth database, which allows users to cross-reference building code data not only by state, but by the city as well.

Both databases provide homeowners and industry professionals with valuable resources for identifying what is needed to create a proper home ventilation system. Homeowners are also encouraged to ask their HVAC professionals for further details on how their specific company is accredited, and which practices they abide by, as inter-industry standards and best practices may be subject to variation depending on location.

Common Spots For Errors In Ventilation Systems

Improper Vent Exits

By most building code requirements, any exhaust vent should directly lead to the outdoors, bringing unwanted air directly out of the home. However, some improperly installed ventilation systems will exhaust air from the bathroom or basement areas into the attic. Be sure your ventilation system is configured to properly exhaust as required by both your local, state, and federal guidelines. 
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Ducts and Grilles

With so many vents located throughout the building, it can be easy to not notice when one’s grill is loose or poorly attached. While vent grilles can be more easily identified as in need of repair, homeowners should contact HVAC professionals to inspect their duct system if they believe an issue exists.
When a duct or vent gate is obviously in need of repair, it may also be a signifier of a larger issue within the ventilation system. Regardless, having a professional inspect the total ventilation system will safeguard against any possible oversights. 
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Moist Environment

When the ventilation system themselves do not allow for proper air flow, a moist environment can occur within the system. When this happens, the ventilation system begins to run the risk of allowing mold to accrue.
Mold is a dangerous hazard to find within any home construct, but its growth within the air intake or ventilation system creates a particular health hazard. Once in the ventilation system, mold and additional harmful bacteria are more easily transmitted throughout the home environment.
Any home with residents that have a respiratory illness is at an increased need for proper ventilation systems. An improper ventilation system can increase the likelihood of a poor breathing environment, causing those with asthma or allergies to suffer additional difficulties as a result.
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