What is an air-exchanger?
Let me first say that I am not an expert on this matter. All I know is that we needed to install one after building our brand new deck. So, to give you a basic understanding of what an air exchanger does, it simply protects your basement or crawl spaces from permanent damages caused by humidity, mold and mildew.
It will exhaust all the unwanted odour, dangerous air-borne spores and chemicals in your basements. If your basement is anything like ours you might consider installing one for health reasons. See for yourself. That’s just a part of our embarrassing basement. You see, there’s a lot of chemical stuff in there. There’s wood shavings, dust, paint, etc.
It is a pretty doable project you can install yourself. My husband has downloaded a manual of how to install our air exchanger. There are a lot of brands and models out there that you can choose. We got ours on sale and you can see a lot online nowadays. Read all the instructions that come with it and see if it is right for you or if you can install them yourself. An air exchanger may not even be for you. But definitely invest on a system that will improve Air Quality in your basement.
Why we need one
When we purchase this cottage, there was already an existing “air-exchanger” system installed, If I may call it that. It simply was just an exhaust built by the previous owner using a dryer vent attached to some fan and hanging by the ceiling. Nevertheless, we were stucked with it for a good 5 years! We never really thought much of it. I admit that lack of knowledge and ignorance played a part.
We never wanted to add or upgrade any more than we can afford at that time. We deemed it not necessary, as there are other things that we needed to install right away, or at least before winter starts.
Our basement floor was just rocks when we first bought it. It was always wet in there. I never wanted to go down there, unless it is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, we used it as a storage, so I really have no choice. There is also the never ending issue of mold. Our basement ceiling, which is mostly wood and unfinished, has obvious mold stains from maybe years of neglect.
Although, after doing the home inspection, we were assured that the mold is dead and those black stains, are just that, stains. Whew! That was a relief. Being someone who suffers from asthma, that is one thing I do not want to deal with.
A waterfront cottage does have a major con. The moisture, dampness from being so close to the lake, is something we should have thought off, before hand. It is too late now. We are now in a committed relationship with this cottage. Getting serious now. So we agreed on investing more on our cottage by tackling the basement floors.
We hired a contractor to do the hard work. A mason. And $16,000 later, it seems that our problems have been solved. We were not assured a dry basement after this job. The contractor has been very honest with us. They did a good job, I must admit. Winter seemed fixed. But came next spring the wetness and dampness came back.
When it came time to do our deck last year, we made sure we have our basement wetness fixed first. A wet basement specialist did just that. Then the old and falling deck was on it’s way out to make room for the new. Only this time another major setback kicked in. The contractors have sealed the hole where our exhaust is located. Completely sealing our basement.
It was a blessing in disguise though as we have somewhat figured out the reason why, after all this years, the basement can never seem to be dry, no matter what. Enter the new air-exchanger! After much research, we have come to a conclusion that the “flooding” in some areas of our basement is due to moisture and not really water from outside.
But first, we went snowmobiling!
Last weekend was an Ontario Family Day long weekend. And would be the last weekend to do some snowmobiling. Again this year, we did not get much snow. And we did took advantage of the last weekend to try this sport for the first time. A first time for me anyways. Is it really a sport? 🙂
There was a lot of preparation and outstanding renovation that we have to do first leading up to this installation. Our wall was initially just foam insulation. My husband just installed the one drywall where the air-exchanger would go. Since the walls got sealed after our deck was done, he has to again make a hole for the exhasut and 2 hoses that has to go outside the cottage.
We are not planning on finishing the floors anytime soon, so he decided to install it flushed to the floor. He said it’s easy enough to unscrew and move the unit up if we are to do our flooring. It’s somehing we want to do later, but for now we just want to get the air-exchanger up and running, specially with spring seems to be calling us earlier this year.
It is already warming up here, and there could be thawing soon, in a next couple of weeks maybe. At this time you wanted to have your exchanger up and running. You must keep your basement free from moisture and dampness caused by the winter thaw.
This unit was up in no time. Give or take a couple of hours. But like I said, my husband has been “studying” the manual prior to this day. He didn’t just grab his drill and started drilling.
I consider him a handy man. You have to gauge your own level of DIY-ness. (Yes, I just made that up, sorry! ) Read the manual that comes with your chosen unit. They are all over Google nowadays. You can read it before you even make a decision to purchase them. My husband has to read and decide from 2 brands only, and he is good to go.
As winter comes to an end, we will soon see the results we have been anticipating. This is the ultimate “reveal”. We are very positive that an air-exchanger – that is new and functional, is the end to all the mystery behind our forever damp and wet basement. I will definitely make a follow-up post on this, and maybe 2 or 3 times as we continue to monitor.
We have spent a great deal of money on this project. I am hoping it is a smart decision, since we are all about making our cottage a smart one. The experts has once said that we will not get all our money back on a basement renovation. But here in cottage country, I would like to think otherwise. I am crossing my fingers on this one.