Continuously Operating Ventilation and Exhaust Fans

Scope

Continuously-operating ventilation & exhaust fans include readily accessible override controls
Continuously-operating ventilation & exhaust fans include readily accessible override controls

Install readily accessible override controls for ventilation fans and exhaust fans that are set for continuous operation to meet ventilation code requirements.

  • Locate the controls in one of three places:
    • near the thermostat 
    • on the electrical panel 
    • on the switch plate or on or near the air handler.
  • Identify the override control switch with a label and provide instructions for its use.

See the Compliance Tab for related codes and standards requirements, and criteria to meet national programs such as DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home program, ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, and Indoor airPLUS.

Description

To meet ASHRAE 62.2 ventilation requirements, the HVAC designer may specify that an exhaust fan should be set for continuous operation. In homes with continuously operating ventilation and exhaust fans, it is important for HVAC contractors and electricians to select fans that have override controls and that they locate the override controls in a location easily accessible to the homeowner. It is also important to properly label these controls. If controls are not properly labeled, fans may be mistakenly turned off.

For more on continuously operating exhaust fans and ASHRAE 62.2 requirements, see Obvious Ventilation Controls, Bathroom Exhaust, Continuous Supply/Exhaust Fan Ratings, and Bathroom Ran Ratings.

How to Locate the Override Controls

The installer has three options for locating the override controls:

  1. Locate the labeled control switch on a wall next to the thermostat. This creates a control center for the homeowner, allowing the homeowner to access the majority of the HVAC system controls in one place. This setup is ideal for ventilation systems, such as ERVs and HRVs that may be located in inaccessible places.
    The ventilation controller is next to the thermostat and has a manual override button
    Figure 1 - The ventilation controller is located next to the thermostat creating a control center for the homeowner. The ventilation controller has a manual override button. Reference

     

  2. Locate a switch on the electrical panel with a label. In a house with multiple continuously running exhaust fans, all of the fans can be wired to one switch on the electrical panel. Because the switch is out of sight, although easily accessible, this option can help prevent the fans from being accidentally turned off.
    All of the exhaust fans are wired to one labeled switch at the electrical panel
    Figure 2 - In a home with several exhaust fans, all of the fans can be wired to one labeled switch at the electrical panel. Reference

     

  3. Exhaust fan models that have an internal override system, either on the electrical switch plate or as defined in the manufacturer’s manual, can meet the requirement as long as the override is accessible. Figure 3 shows a ventilation controller for a central air handler fan. Figure 4 shows a bath exhaust fan ventilation controller that is installed in the outlet box under the switch plate. It can be set by the HVAC technician for continuous operation, delayed shut off, or a set amount of minutes each hour. The fan will run continuously or automatically come on once per hour for the set ventilation time. The occupant moves the toggle switch up to turn on the fan and light and down to turn the light off. The fan will run continuously or for a set delay time to meet the required ventilation amount. Any manual fan operation and delay operation will be subtracted from the ventilation time for that hour. To override or cancel the delay time, the occupants can move the toggle up again for at least 1 second then down again. The fan will shut off, canceling the set delay time.
    A ventilation controller with a manual override is located on a central air handler fan that is located in an accessible location
    Figure 3 - This ventilation controller, which has an obvious override switch, is located on a central air handler fan that is located in an accessible location. Reference

     

    Bath exhaust fan ventilation control can be set by the HVAC technician for continuous operation, delayed shut off, or a set amount of minutes each hour
    Figure 4 - This bath exhaust fan ventilation control can be set by the HVAC technician for continuous operation, delayed shut off, or a set amount of minutes each hour. To override the delay time, move toggle up again for at least 1 second then down again, to shut off the fan, canceling the set delay time. Reference

     

Ensuring Success

In homes with continuously operating ventilation and exhaust fans, the HERS rater should inspect to ensure that the fans include readily accessible override controls.

Climate

No climate specific information applies.

Training

Right and Wrong Images

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Presentations

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Videos

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CAD Images

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Compliance

The Compliance tab contains both program and code information. Code language is excerpted and summarized below. For exact code language, refer to the applicable code, which may require purchase from the publisher. While we continually update our database, links may have changed since posting. Please contact our webmaster if you find broken links.

ENERGY STAR Certified Homes 

ENERGY STAR Certified Homes (Version 3/3.1, Revision 08), Rater Field Checklist

7. Whole-House Mechanical Ventilation System

7.2 A readily-accessible ventilation override control installed and also labeled if its function is not obvious (e.g., a label is required for a standalone wall switch, but not for a switch that’s on the ventilation equipment). 

ENERGY STAR Revision 08 requirements are required for homes permitted starting 07/01/2016.

DOE Zero Energy Ready Home

Exhibit 1: Mandatory Requirements. Certified under ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes Version 3.

2009 IECC

Continuously operating ventilation and exhaust fan controls are not specifically addressed in the 2009 IECC.

2009 IRC,  2012 IRC,  2015 IRC

Continuously operating ventilation and exhaust fan controls are not specifically addressed in the 2009, 2012, or 2015 IRC.

2012 IECC

Section R403.5 Mechanical ventilation (Mandatory).  Building ventilation must meet the requirements of the International Residential Code or International Mechanical Code, as applicable, or have another approved means of ventilation. 

2015 IECC

Section R403.6 Mechanical ventilation (Mandatory).  Building ventilation must meet the requirements of the International Residential Code or International Mechanical Code, as applicable, or have another approved means of ventilation. 

This Retrofit tab provides information that helps installers apply this “new home” guide to improvement projects for existing homes. This tab is organized with headings that mirror the new home tabs, such as “Scope,” “Description,” “Success,” etc. If there is no retrofit-specific information for a section, that heading is not included.

Scope

If any exhaust fans currently exhaust into the attic, crawlspace, between floors, or into any other part of the home, replace the duct with one that exhausts to the outside. If the project will involve working in the attic, see the assessment guide, Pre-Retrofit Assessment of Attics, Ceilings, and Roofs.

For more on exhaust fan ventilation, see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Standard Work Specifications.

See the Scope tab for additional job specifications.

Description

If the home currently has no whole-house ventilation system, such as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), energy recovery ventilator (ERV), or fresh air intake ducted to the central air handler fan, then code-required ventilation can be provided with an exhaust fan that is set to run either continuously or for timered intervals. If a new exhaust fan is installed and set for continuous operation, or if an existing fan is set for continuous operation, the override controls to turn off the exhaust fan if necessary should be clearly marked, as described in the Description tab.

More Info.

Access to some references may require purchase from the publisher. While we continually update our database, links may have changed since posting. Please contact our webmaster if you find broken links.

Case Studies

None Available

References and Resources*

  1. Author(s): ASHRAE
    Organization(s): ASHRAE
    Publication Date: January, 2013
    Standard defining the roles of and minimum requirements for mechanical and natural ventilation systems and the building envelope intended to provide acceptable indoor air quality in low-rise residential buildings.
  2. Author(s): DOE
    Organization(s): DOE
    Publication Date: April, 2017

    Standard requirements for DOE's Zero Energy Ready Home national program certification.

  3. Author(s): EPA
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: December, 2015

    Document outlining the program requirements for ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, Version 3 (Rev. 08).

Contributors to this Guide

The following authors and organizations contributed to the content in this Guide.

Last Updated: 07/19/2017

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