Obvious Ventilation Controls

Scope

Function of ventilation controls is obvious (e.g., bathroom exhaust fan) or, if not, controls have been labeled
Function of ventilation controls is obvious (e.g., bathroom exhaust fan) or, if not, controls have been labeled

Ensure that ventilation controls are identified. For exhaust fans used as part of a whole-house mechanical ventilation system, if the identity of the switch controlling the ventilation fan isn’t obvious, then identify it in one of the following ways:

  • Install a switch that is differentiated or labeled by the manufacturer.
  • Install a permanent label indicating the function of the control.

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

Ventilation controls can sometimes look like ordinary light switches. For exhaust fans used as part of a whole-house mechanical ventilation system, the exhaust fan and other ventilation control switches should be permanently labeled as such, unless their function is obvious or they are labeled by the manufacturer; i.e., a label is required for a stand-alone wall switch, but not for a switch that is on the ventilation equipment.

For more on exhaust fans controls, see Continuously Operating Ventilation and Exhaust Fans.

How to Label Ventilation Controls

  1. Clearly label the ventilation controls (exhaust fan switch) or install controllers that are clearly labeled by the manufacturer.

Ventilation control clearly labeled by installer

Figure 1 - The ventilation control is clearly labeled by the installer. Reference

Figure 2. The ventilation control is clearly indicated by the manufacturer

Figure 2 - The ventilation control is clearly indicated by the manufacturer. Reference

Ensuring Success

The HERS rater should inspect to ensure that ventilation controls are clearly labeled, unless their function is obvious (for example, a bathroom exhaust fan).

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.

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 exhaust fans that are set to run either continuously or for timered intervals. The switch for a new or existing fan should be clearly identified, 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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