Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog


Do Heat Recovery Ventilators Need Maintenance?

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Ventilation is an essential component in any HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system.

But until just recently, ventilation could have been considered a third wheel beside the power couple of A/C and heat.

Today, ventilation is coming into its own in the wake of escalating energy conservation concerns and subsequent changing building standards. The modern method of ventilating is to install a heat recovery ventilator or HRV.

If you haven’t yet heard of the heat recovery ventilator, prepare to be amazed.

You may even discover this is just the appliance you have been looking for to improve your indoor air quality and HVAC output! You will quite likely also have questions about what type of maintenance HRV units need.

In this blog post, find out what you need to know about the heat recovery ventilator's operation and maintenance requirements.

What Is a Heat Recovery Ventilator?

For reasons of energy conservation, today’s “tight” (aka “airtight”) homes and workplaces must be built to keep up to 100 percent of temperature-controlled air in. 

This is great for lowering utility bills. It isn’t so great for your lungs.

Without some way to ventilate itself (ventilation being a home’s way of “breathing”), the air inside is going to get very stale and toxic very quickly.

Enter the heat recovery ventilator. This nifty appliance is like a set of mechanical lungs for your airtight home or workplace. It “breathes in” fresh, oxygenated air and “breathes out” stale, toxic, carbon dioxide-loaded air.

But it also does one more incredible thing. It conserves otherwise wasted heat energy to further reduce your utility bills. Some units are able to conserve up to 95 percent of heat energy and funnel it toward pre-heating incoming air in winter and even pre-heating water.

Now that you have a more complete picture of exactly what a heat recovery ventilator does, let’s take a look at the HRV's maintenance needs.

Heat Recovery Ventilator Maintenance

While heat recovery ventilators as a whole are simple, sturdy, efficient and long-lasting appliances, they do need regular preventative maintenance to deliver optimal performance.

In fact, many of the maintenance needs of the average heat recovery ventilator are quite similar to the needs of the average furnace and air conditioning system

How often do HRVs need maintenance?

You will be happy to hear that heat recovery ventilators generally need only once-annual preventative maintenance.

As long as the appliance receives this annual maintenance inspection, cleaning and tune-up, you are unlikely to experience any surprise repair needs or outages during the months in between.

What type of maintenance is required?

There are 10 basic steps that ensure your heat recovery ventilator is performing optimally and safely.

  1. Clean the exterior of the unit, including the vents.

  2. Clean the interior of the unit, including the fan housing and blades.

  3. Clean the core and filters and/or replace them.

  4. Check and clean the defrost damper.

  5. Check and clean the cold air sensor.

  6. Check, clean and rebalance the air flows (intake/exhaust).

  7. Check, clean and reseal the duct connections.

  8. Check and clean ceiling/wall air registers.

  9. Check and test the heat exchange system.

  10. Check and test the HRV wall control unit.

After completing this maintenance checklist, the HRV service technician will advise if any minor repairs are needed as well.

The Importance of Indoor Air Duct Cleaning & Maintenance

Just like your heating and air conditioning components, the heat recovery ventilator works directly with your ductwork to remove stale, toxic air and replace it with fresh, oxygenated air.

Every component relies on the others to deliver the best and most efficient performance.

This means that if your ducts themselves are not clean and well maintained, it will not be possible to receive the full benefit of what a heat recovery ventilator can do.

Even if your ductwork is brand-new and airtight, every single time your HVAC system cycles on, small amounts of the toxins trapped in your ductwork will get pushed back out into your home.

Over time, aging duct systems, in particular, may degrade, sag, even rip or tear away from connection points. In this way, ducts soon become a major part of the indoor air quality issues inside a home.

(To get a bird’s-eye view of what our technicians see weekly during professional duct cleaning service calls, watch this short video!)

How often do ducts need maintenance?

Unlike the other major components of the typical HVAC system, ducts do not generally require annual maintenance.

As long as your HVAC technician does a basic visual check of all the component-to-duct connection points annually, the average air duct system can go for three to five years or longer between professional duct cleanings.

However, if someone in your home smokes or vapes or uses a lot of air fresheners or commercial cleaning products, you may need to schedule more frequent cleanings. The same holds true if someone in your family struggles with asthma or severe seasonal allergies or you have an indoor pet.

What type of maintenance do ducts need?

There are three types of maintenance that a central duct system needs to stay efficient and effective.

Basic repairs and resealing

When ducts start to sag, they may need to be replaced before they pull away from connection points.

Ducts often need to be resealed at the connection points. Minor tears may also need repairs.


Insulating ducts will not only give your energy efficiency a giant boost, but it will also make it that much harder for bugs or critters to creep inside.

Professional air duct cleaning

Through October 31, 2019, save 10 percent on all air duct cleaning packages. Purchase the Gold package and get a free UV light!

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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