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How to use and maintain your HRV system (to correctly manage your home's humidity)

“Always pick your yard based on your Summer lifetstyle.”


May 2, 2019 - Karl Yeh

Want to know how to correctly manage your home's humidity? How does your HRV system play a role? In this episode, we discuss how to use and maintain your HRV system. We explore how it works and how to clean it. This is part two of our two part series on humidity management. 


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Hi there. I'm Karl. Welcome to another Home Buyer's School video, specifically our homeowner how to's, and remember if this is your first time on this channel and you want to get the latest strategies from the experts, hit the subscription button below. Hit the little notification bell so you don't miss anything.

So today I'm talking [00:00:30] with Luke's Staniscia with Brookfield Residential and we're talking about:

How to use and maintain an HRV

This is part two of our video series on humidity management.

So Luke,

What is an HRV and how does it work?

Luke Staniscia:             

An HRV or the heat recovery ventilation system is on the cutting edge of building science and it's one of the best ways to reduce humidity in your home.

Essentially [00:01:00] ,

What it does is it takes the old moist and stagnant air from your home and exhausts it out while simultaneously bringing in fresh air. What makes it truly energy efficient is it uses the heat from that otherwise bad air to warm up the fresh air as it comes to the furnace. This way your furnace doesn't have to work as hard and it reduces your energy costs.

All in all, the HRV is a lifesaver when it comes to mitigating humidity, it would build up in your home.

Karl Yeh:                       Perfect. Let's go see how it works.

How to use your HRV system

Luke Staniscia:             

Now we're upstairs. We've already gone over what your HRV [00:01:30] does. We're going to talk now about how to use it.

In the link below you can see the first part of this series where we discuss your humidifier and how you can add humidity to your air.

As mentioned previously, the HRV is designed to remove humidity from the air. You might be thinking, why do I have one machine that adds humidity while the other one removes it? And the answer is managing humidity is one of the most important things a homeowner does, and it can be both good and bad for your home.

So [00:02:00] in the instances where we need to remove the humidity, we're going to use this controller. You will have one of these in every one of your bathrooms and every time you shower, turn on a sink, flush the toilet, you are going to be adding lots of humidity to the air.

So most commonly when you're using your HRV, it's going to be in the bathroom.

Luke Staniscia:             

The bathroom control is very simple. You simply press, this button and a light will pop on. As you can see here, I've pressed the button once, it will turn on the HRV [00:02:30] for 20 minutes.

If I press it again, it will turn it on for 40 and if I press it a third time, you guessed it, 60 minutes. It's important to note that the HRV is one big system, so if you turn it on in one bathroom, you're actually going to turn it on throughout the entire house.

So don't be startled one day if you're in the bathroom and all of a sudden your HRV turns on, somebody else in the house has probably done it.

What's great about the HRV system is instead of having those old rickety bath fans that make a lot of noise [00:03:00] and cause you potential air leakage issues in your attic, you are now replaced with a simple vent that quietly removes the moisture.

Since the HRV is such an energy efficient device and it does not take a lot of energy to run, I recommend turn it on for 60 minutes after every single shower to remove any and all humidity.

Now that we've gone over this, we're going to head downstairs and we'll talk about your HRV's master control.

HRV Master Control

Luke Staniscia:             

We've already discussed how to control your HRV from your bathroom, [00:03:30] which odds are is the time you're going to use it most frequently cause that's when you're producing the most humidity. But if you want to turn it on from the main floor, you can use your master control.

Make sure the power button is pressed on and then you press this fan button here and it will operate just like your bathroom.

Pressing it once will turn it on for 20 minutes, pressing it again, will turn it on for 40, and so on.            

That's how we can manually turn on our HRV, but there's one more important [00:04:00] setting we want to discuss and that's the dehumidification aspect of your HRV.

Instead of always having to manually turn it on, we can set the dehumidifier to a certain percentage and any time the home will go beyond that percentage, the HRV will turn on and will continually run until the humidity has dropped below that percentage.

To do that, we're going to quickly turn our master [00:04:30] control on. We're gonna press the mode button until RH is flashing and RH stands for relative humidity and we're then going to pick a percentage. In this case, I will set it to 33%.

It's important that you never set the dehumidification setting to a lower threshold than the humidifier in the basement or else these two appliances are going to be constantly fighting one another, [00:05:00] so whatever you have it set to in the basement, you want to make sure that your HRV is set a little bit higher.

Once you've set that, you can forget it. That will always happen anytime the home gets above 33% humidity.

Other than that, there's not much to learn about your HRV. Just remember, run it every time you have a shower and you'll be ahead of the game.

Maintaining your HRV system

Karl Yeh:                      

So we're back downstairs. We've learned how to use an HRV. So Luke, how do we maintain it?

Luke Staniscia:             

Good question, [00:05:30] Karl.

Maintaining an HRV is pretty simple.

Really all you have to do is clean it. When you come down here to do your clean, don't worry if it's running.

By simply opening the door, you will disengage this switch and turn off the HRV. Inside, you're going to find your core.

Like many things in your home this is friction fit. It can be a little tricky to get out, so don't be discouraged if it doesn't come out that smoothly.

Once you've removed your core, [00:06:00] you're going to want to take off these little filter pads. We'll give them a thorough rinse.

You don't need to use any type of special cleaner, just water and a little hand soap will do just fine.

You're going to want to do the same thing with your core. Lightly spray some water in there, let it dry, and then we're going to reinsert it.

After this has been cleaned, you're going to want to take a little rag, come into your HRV [00:06:30] and clean out the inside.

This is important because you're bringing in a lot of outside air with dust and contaminants that you don't want to recirculate throughout the house.

After everything's clean and dry, you're going to put your pads back in. Make sure they're nice and evenly spaced so that they cover the entire grate, and then you're going to reinsert the core. [00:07:00]

You're going to be careful to try and line up the corner of the core with these guiding flanges, and it's important to note that it does not go in straight.

You actually want to put it in on a bit of an angle and like I said, they can be a little tricky, so don't be discouraged.

Once you're done, put the clasp back on and the HRV should turn itself back on. We recommend that you clean this thing about four times [00:07:30] a year.

You can't over clean it. Like I said before, you're removing dust and particles that could become airborne in your home. So whenever you have a chance to clean it, come down and do so.

Karl Yeh:                       Do you have anything else to add in terms of your HRV system?

Luke Staniscia:             

Well, like I mentioned before, managing the humidity in a home is one of the most important responsibilities for any home owner [00:08:00] .

Letting it go too long and letting the humidity build up inside of your home can cause a lot of problems.

It's very important to run this HRV diligently and that will reduce a lot of the service issues you have throughout the course of your life in the home.

Karl Yeh:                      

Remember to watch part one of our humidity management series, How to Use and Maintain a Humidifier in the video above and the description below.


Karl Yeh:                      

Thank you very much for watching. If you have any questions about an HRV system, how to use it, how to maintain it, let us know in the comment section below.

And if you enjoyed this video and found it helpful, make sure to like and hit the subscribe button [00:08:30] below. Thank you. And we'll catch you next time.


Your turn:

Let us know if you have additional homeowner or home buying questions that we can answer by submitting them in the comments section below. 

Homebuyer's School publishes new content weekly so subscribe or check back regularly for the latest information, strategies and tips from home buying experts.  

About Luke Staniscia:

Luke Staniscia is Site Manager for Brookfield Residential. He has been with the company for 5 years and currently manage the Edgemont Site out in Western Edmonton.

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