Solar attic fans and carbon monoxide: is there a risk?

One of the frequently cited myths of solar attic fans is that they stand to cause carbon monoxide poisoning in homes, and that such risks outweigh any potential benefits the fans may bring. It is important to note that these claims are now outdated, as independent tests have proven them to be inaccurate.

The claim: solar attic fans increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning

In the past, engineers believed that solar attic fans created “negative pressure zones” in the home. It was believed that by ventilating air out of a home, air pressure inside can actually drop to a point where noxious gasses like carbon monoxide get sucked and trapped indoors. These fears are compounded by statistics that show carbon monoxide poisoning causes roughly 300 deaths and 200 hospitalizations per year in Canada.

So do solar attic fans actually increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning? 

Independent testing by Building Knowledge Canada, one of the most active and widely recognized building performance organizations in North America, confirms that solar attic fans do NOT pose a carbon monoxide risk. This is because products like iSolar Solutions’ bestselling 20WSF-FLEX fans are designed to work in conjunction with other components like soffit vents, which are installed to control incoming airflow. Also, the tests found the maximum amount of air moved by solar attic fans (measured in cubic feet per minute) is not enough to create the negative pressure needed to trap noxious gasses inside.

Solar attic fans are proven effective against other, more common health risks 

Numerous studies have found that about half of all homes in the United States suffer from problems related to mold and dampness. In a 2007 study commissioned by the American Environmental Protection Agency, it was estimated that roughly 4.6 million cases of asthma were attributed to building dampness and exposure to mold in the home. 

By boosting air circulation in a home’s attic, solar attic fans can drastically improve indoor air quality, reduce the risk of mold, mildew and bacterial growth in homes, and save homeowners the headache of cost repairs for moisture-related structural damage. Professionals in the mold removal industry have found that attics are the most common place for mold growth, holding up to half of all the mold that is typically found in homes. 

For homes located in hotter climates where humidity levels are generally high, solar attic fans give a building’s existing ventilation system a much-needed boost, pushing out moisture-laden air that can otherwise get trapped in a home’s attic and foster the mold growth. 

For homes in cooler climates, solar attic fans also keep attics cool during the winter months, preventing snow from melting upon contact with roofing materials. Without proper ventilation of hot air, snow and ice that melts on the roof may form hazardous ice dams, which may cause additional pileups to seep into the roof underneath the shingles. Additional water damage and mold growth can happen if the water then ends up trickling down into the ceilings of a home. In extreme cases, mold can even lead to entire homes being condemned by local authorities. 
To learn more about how iSolar Solutions’ solar attic fans can protect your home from mold and moisture-related damage, or to find out more about how our products can fit your home’s ventilation needs, please contact one of our knowledgeable staff.

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