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Clear the Air

By: Danny Lipford
Danny Lipford with homeowners

Danny Lipford with homeowners Kim and John Garrett and baby Rhodes.

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John and Kim Garrett live in a beautiful home in Mobile, Ala., with their two small children, June and Rhodes.

Living in one of the rainiest cities in the country, this young family has had some challenges with moisture, mildew and mold. The Today’s Homeowner crew worked with them to solve their indoor air quality issues and create a healthier environment in their home.

The Garretts' home

The Garretts’ home

Installing a Whole-House Ventilation System

Our first step to improving the Garretts’ indoor air quality was to contact a heating and cooling contractor to install a , called an ERVS100. The ERV, or energy recovery ventilator, is designed for hot, humid climates like than on the Gulf Coast, so it can manage the excess moisture in the air. For those in colder, drier climates, an HRV, or heat recovery ventilation system, would be ideal.

The crew added a vent inside the house that draws out stale, dirty air while a vent outside draws in fresh air. That’s important because studies show that indoor air is often five to six times more polluted than outside air.

Check out Improving Indoor Air Quality In Your Home for more info.

Venting an Over-the-Range Microwave

over-the-range microwave

We converted the Garretts’ over-the-range microwave to exhaust to the outside.

Installing a quality vent hood above the stove is the best way to remove cooking fumes, smoke, carcinogens, grease and moisture from the kitchen. But, John and Kim already had an over-the-range microwave. OTR microwaves typically don’t extend far enough over the stove for proper venting, and they recirculate the air rather than exhausting it to the outside.

However, it is possible to convert some models of microwaves to vent to the outside, and that’s exactly what we did in this case. The first step was removing it from the cabinet and taking off the access plate that covers the blower motor. Then it was simply a matter of turning the motor 90 degrees so the fan blew upward instead of downward, before replacing the cover.

Next, we attached the transition piece we purchased to connect the oven to ductwork. Then we cut holes in the bottom and top of the cabinet to allow the venting duct to pass through it. We routed the ductwork up into the attic, through the roof, and completely out of the house.

Finally, to hide the exposed duct in the kitchen, we built a frame around it and covered it with cabinet grade plywood. We finished it off with a coat of primer and two coats of paint.

Watch How to Vent an Over-the-Range Microwave to the Outside for details.

Improving Drainage and Crawl Space Ventilation

crawl space vents

Adequate crawlspace ventilation is important to the health of a home.

foundation vents

Sloping the dirt away from the foundation vents protects the crawl space from rainwater.

John and Kim’s home had some issues with improper drainage and moisture in the crawl space, so our first order of business was to re-route the drain pipe for the downspouts.

After cutting back the bushes from the house a bit, we brought in some dirt that we sloped away from the foundation to prevent rainwater from entering the crawl space.

Lastly, the Garretts’ home did not have adequate crawl space ventilation, so we created some additional foundation vents. The crawl space had been bricked in, and the few existing vents were created by simply turning the bricks vertically to create a kind of louver. In order to match this look but add more vents, we laid out new vent locations so they were positioned similarly to the existing ones.

Watch How to Add Brick Foundation Vents to Crawl Space for more info.

Other Tips From This Episode

dusting wand

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
How to Make a Dusting Wand

To make a simple dusting wand, all you need is a wire coat hanger and a cotton sock. Use it to dust things up high such as crown molding and fan blades. Watch video.

socet wrench set

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Husky 20-Piece Universal Socket Wrench Set

This universal socket wrench set from Husky is perfect for working in tight and hard-to-reach spaces. It is available at The Home Depot. Watch video.

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Clear the Air