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Indoor Air Quality & Ventilation

Mitchell Elworthy

Air pollution and outdoor air quality is a common point of discussion, particularly in cities and active industrial areas. However, much less focus is given to indoor air quality. According to the Australian Government's Department of Agriculture, Water, and Environment, Australians spend a whopping 90 per cent of their time indoors. While Australia has not done extensive studies on the qualities of indoor air, recent studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States have put indoor air pollution in the top five list of risks for public health hazards.

Beyond this, schools and offices have noticed an uptick in productivity when they reduce pollutants and focus on air quality. The air you breathe really does matter.

When you're inside your home, you have some control over the quality of that air. This article focuses on indoor air quality, how ventilation helps and what you can do to improve your air quality at home.


Why does ventilation matter?

Moving air is healthy air. To avoid contaminated air in your home, you need to keep it circulating and replace unhealthy air inside with clean air from outside. That moving air will keep you healthy, and is why ventilation is key. It’s no coincidence that airflow in hospitals receives so much attention.

When you do not have proper ventilation, it can have serious impacts on your health, including leaving you feeling fatigued and with respiratory issues. There have been several studies linking air quality to a number of health issues. On top of the health concerns, poor ventilation will leave your house smelling stale and damp, which is a difficult process to reverse.


How does ventilation work? 

There is good news in the midst of these thoughts about mould and illness: ventilation helps. 

Damp buildings cause mould and other contaminated air issues. When a building is exposed to moisture, mould will grow. Constant heat and humidity on top of that exposure will feed the mould, allowing it to infest the structure. 

To keep your home from having a mould problem, you need to keep your relative humidity between 30 and 50 per cent. You can attempt to keep the mould and humidity at bay by using a dehumidifier, however, your best bet to keep your home healthy lies in proper ventilation. This means an exhaust fan can become your best weapon in the fight against unhealthy indoor air. 

How can I improve indoor air quality?

Improving ventilation and air quality can be as simple as opening a window. Here are some of the best options:

  • Open windows and allow air to flow through the house - on a warm day this is a great way to air out the space

  • Install an exhaust fan in high-moisture rooms such as bathrooms

  • Always use your range hood exhaust fan/ extractor fan while cooking

  • Use an air purifier or dehumidifier

  • Hoover and dust regularly, including dusting the exhaust fans themselves

How do exhaust fans help?

Even opening a window can make a difference in bringing fresh air in and letting unhealthy air out. Exhaust fans will speed up the ventilation process, pumping bad air out and circulating the air in your home. 

Exhaust fans also make your home smell better and help with maintenance and cleaning. They reduce mould spores, protect your walls and fixtures, and also help manage other pollutants such as pet dander and smoke from fireplaces. According to research, your furniture and carpet also emit gasses so these pollutants are coming from places you simply wouldn’t expect. 

Exhaust fans are typically installed in humid, high-moisture rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms. They do not blow outside air into the house, but rather they suck the “dirty” air out of the house, pulling out humidity and forcing the air to move and circulate in the house. 

Typically a technician will vent the exhaust fan so the inside air it pulls from the home will go outdoors, but sometimes an exhaust fan will pump air into the attic to keep it ventilated as well. Mould can grow anywhere, so you want to keep all of your tight spaces ventilated. 

The key to avoiding indoor pollution lies in having proper ventilation and in keeping you exhaust fans clean. If your fan begins to grow mould in it, then you're just circulating bad air. 

Having the right size of exhaust fan is key to its success. To find our what size of exhaust fan you need, use our handy calculator

Which rooms need increased ventilation?

Any room with excess moisture needs increased ventilation, such as an exhaust fan. Bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens in particular will benefit since showers, sinks, cookers and dryers produce excess moisture. Without proper ventilation in these rooms, mould and mildew will begin to grow anywhere they can. This can also spread to neighbouring rooms and beyond.


Kitchen exhaust fans come in the form of range hoods. Typically, a homeowner will turn on the range hood when cooking something steamy or smokey. The range hood grabs the smoke, steam, or greasy air and then pulls it out of the house. 

If you have a large kitchen, you can get a larger kitchen exhaust fan that pulls outside air in to replace the air it sucks into the house. 


Even garages require ventilation. Even though contractors often build houses to seal them off from common living areas, gasses from the garage can still escape into the home. When you open the door to the garage, you cannot stop gasses from entering the home. 

Newer garages feature fans that kick in when a garage door moves. When the garage door opens to let a vehicle in the garage, the exhaust fan starts and runs for 20 minutes to remove the fumes the car brings into the garage. 

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Work Rooms

If you have a workroom or a craft room, good ventilation is key. If you enjoy painting or staining, you will have excessive fumes in that room. Vent fans will remove contaminated air before it moves onto the rest of the house and affects others. 

Whole-Home Fans

If you live in a humid climate, a whole-house fan will serve you well. This exhaust fan does what all exhaust fans do: it sucks out indoor air and improves the overall quality of air in your home. 

You can combine a whole-house exhaust system into your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), or you can simply tie it in with other fans in the home such as in your kitchen or bathroom. 


Even the cleanest bathroom can smell. By their very nature, bathrooms attract bad human-centred odours and tend to be one of the wettest areas of the house. Good ventilation is key, and this is often in the form on extractor fan that will keep your bathroom free of humidity and fresh from bad smells. 

Bathroom extractor fans usually come in the form of:

  • In-line extractors mounted into the wall or ceiling, pulling air outwards

  • Wall or ceiling-mounts, pushing air outwards. These are the most common with a variety of options including 2-in-1 light and fan combinations and 3-in-1 with an additional heating element.

  • Window-mounted into the pane of a window

Basements/ Cellars

Basements are notorious for being damp, since they are nestled into the ground the outer walls are exposed to moisture. Often without windows, there’s nowhere for moisture to escape to. 

Exhaust fans and dehumidifiers are two of the best ways to manage damp in basements. Together with a good heating option, it’s possible to make your basement into a snug additional space in the house, or as an extra storage space without the risk of items being damaged. 

Utilising an air transfer kit to evenly circulate air throughout your home is a proactive step toward combating moisture and mould issues. By strategically moving air from one area to another, this system aids in maintaining consistent humidity levels and prevents stagnant air from accumulating moisture in your basement. This method not only contributes to a healthier indoor environment but also helps to mitigate potential mould growth, promoting overall well-being for you and your family.


Clearing the air

Whether for your home or work, good air quality has no downsides and several upsides - not least to your health, productivity and property maintenance costs. Stay focused and healthy by keeping your air moving. 

If you’re looking for an exhaust fan, check out our full range here or contact us for more details. We have a healthy inventory of everything you need to keep your home lit and ventilated. 

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*Some brands excluded