I am new to this forum. I sought this forum out on the web due to problems breathing in my house. For several years now I have not slept well due to awakening with nasal congestion. I now sleep very near my window, with the window wide open. The same thing happens in my main-floor home office, I need to open the window.
I also notice it happens when I turn up the heat. Therefore, I rarely turn up the heat much, we usually are a bit frozen in the winter as a result of keeping the heat down and windows open.
Basically, what I'm seeing on this thread is advice on whether HRV and/or hepa is a worthwile investment.
I don't know if it is so hard to breathe in my house due to inadequate fresh air intake or not, but it's certainly one of the first ideas that comes to mind. The nasal congestion issue is severe, and is only in my house, or in some hotel rooms also.
If I step outside, or open the windows wide open, I immediately breathe fine. I therefore don't know to what extent I have sinus problems and/or to what extent I should instead blame my house for being too tight and maybe being too dusty due to wall to wall carpet and lots of furniture and toys and whatnot to collect dust in the home.
I had one company come out and they proposed an HRV fresh air intake system, along with a Hepa air filter. The HRV quote = $x and the Hepa is also $x so $x total. My home is 2,500 square feet.
To me this is an expensive "experiment" in trying to fix my breathing problem. Mind you, my problem is severe - not a day goes by that I don't have a problem breathing or sleeping, and the problem is remedied so well by opening the window, that it seems there must be something wrong with my indoor air. I don't know if it's just dust, or if my 20 year old carpets should simply be replaced before entertaining HRV's or what.
My other big concern is about piping the HRV unit through my existing furnace lines and the furnace channels that come through my floors. I had them cleaned, but I know there's still plenty of construction debris and dust in there.
I know that in commercial buildings, I don't normally notice floor vents - I normally see overhead vents where the fresh air is pumped downward toward the occupants' head, rather than upward from the floor. Is this an issue in a house? Would I need overhead vents in my house to make fresh air effective? Would fresh air from outside still be fresh by the time it runs through my existing/presumably somewhat dusty hvac pipes/vents?
Would it be reasonable to try to negotiate with the hvac company to give some sort of guarantee that I would be happy with the end result, as measured by my actual ability to breathe better, and if not satisfied, have them unhook it and maybe just charge me a reduced fee for time and labor? Would it be worthwhile to try the fresh air/HRV unit and postpone the hepa filter until I see how good the HRV unit works or is the hepa unit really indespensible?
My current setup is an 80% furnace (Carrier) about 1 year old, with a Honeywell electronic air cleaner, also 1 year old.
Perhaps I should also add that I have "carpet ghosting" I think is what it's called. Black streaks along the wall-edges of the carpets. I'm told this is due to excessive negative pressure, where the outside atmosphere is trying to suck the air out of my house, and is pulling the particles through the cracks between floor and wall, and hence buildup of black streaks there. This makes sense to me, but as a layman, I really don't know. But the remedy/proposal is supposed to have net positive airflow pumping into the house.
The proposal also mentions mounting the hrv unit either in the crawl space or in the attic (they prefer to mount it in the attic), but I'm not clear on whether I should insist on one or the other mounting locations. All I know is that I have existing ducstwork in my crawlspace, but have never seen any ductwork in my attic, so I'm a little perplexed about an attic installation.
I'm really going nuts about the breathing problem. We've contemplated selling our house, which is one big reason I've hesitated to experiment with the $x proposal, but maybe if I could have some good advice on the matter, it might help me make a decision on how and whether to proceed with the proposal.
I wonder whether attempting the fresh air intake route is the place to start, or does it seem odd that my house is so hard to breathe in - how likely is it there is some sinister pollutant (dusty carpets or some sort of mold.....I've inspected everywhere I can see, and I don't see any mold), and I had my crawl space redone with new vapor barrier and hung up the insulation batts that fell down, and there was reportedly only mold on the mud under the vapor barrier but not on my home. I just don't know how prevalent this type of issue is, and whether these symptoms more likely denote a problematic pollutant, or just too tight of a house that needs more fresh air pumped in.
Thanks - I appreciate any knowledgeable input on this matter. Please ask me questions if I left out any pertinent details.