Importance of fresh air in HVAC

There are many factors to take into consideration for effective air conditioning. One of the highly essential ones is fresh air.


Air conditioning systems today are much more energy efficient than those in the past. However, these can only work at their best when they are installed and run correctly. When they are not, they are least likely to perform at their best and can result in expensive repairs, premature system failure or even worse, resulting in health complications. This is where adequate fresh air intake plays a role.

fresh air

Sufficient fresh air to a heating or cooling system accomplishes two primary objectives; it pressurises a building and increases indoor air quality by diluting polluted or stale indoor air.

Understanding how an air conditioning system works helps us to understand the vitality of access to fresh clean air for indoor air quality. Outside air enters the system through a roof or sidewall vent inlet that collects air from a clean outside location. The air is pulled into the system through a filter, and then a duct connected to the return plenum. Smaller systems usually use the suction side of the air handler fan to pull in the outside air. The air mixes with the return air and then is dispersed evenly throughout the building through the supply duct system. When a system cannot access fresh air, individuals in that particular building may end up inhaling contaminated air.

‘When an air conditioner does not bring in fresh air, people may end up being more exposed to pollutants indoors than outside as the system will be circulating old air rather than drawing new clean air from outside.’ – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

This simply means that if there is mould, dust, animal hair, chemical volatiles from furnishings or individuals with certain air-borne infections, people are more prone to be exposed and get sick. Keeping your system filters clean is also an essential tool to ensuring only clean fresh air is circulated.

As air passes through space, air conditioning system and ductwork, it picks up all kinds of dirt. The purpose of the filters is to catch dirt such as dust and debris so that these are not inhaled. It is important to note that no matter how clean a building may be, there is always some amount of dust and debris in the air. Air filters catch a lot of it, with time, the caught dust may start to slow down the air flow. This is why it is imperative to change filters frequently. Clean fresh air for indoor air quality is essential for your health.

SARACCA’s role

The South African Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SARACCA) is an association of contractors who have individually and jointly agreed to a set of governing standards. The common aim is to continually strive to improve the image and standards of the industry.

To achieve this, SARACCA has authorised training providers that aim to arm practitioners with sufficient knowledge and skills that make them key players in the industry. SARACCA provides a subsidy to members for the training of site staff in duct erection, refrigeration, air conditioning, project management via short courses that follow South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) approved standards.

In July 2009, the Department of Labour published the ‘Pressure Equipment Regulations’ as part of the Occupational Health and safety Act Number 85 of 1993. The South African Qualification and Certification Committee for Gas (SAQCC Gas) has been accredited by the Department of Labour to register ‘authorised persons’. SARACCA, as a member of that committee, is tasked with registering refrigeration and air conditioning practitioners. 



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