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HVAC School - For Techs, By Techs

Jan 26, 2023

Dr. Allison Bailes from Energy Vanguard joins the podcast to answer the age-old question: do houses need to breathe? He also talks about his new book, A House Needs to Breathe... Or Does It? You can purchase that book directly through the Energy Vanguard site at or on Amazon.

HVAC professionals can benefit from learning about building science because there is a lot of overlap between the two, and an HVAC technician who knows about building science can set themselves apart in the market.

In short, Dr. Bailes doesn't think a house needs to "breathe," especially if a house brings in low-quality air, especially humid air, through gaps and cracks. Some people also use the term "breathe" differently; some may be referring to leakiness, and others may refer to drying out a house. It is necessary for a house to be dry, but we want to make sure that fresh air is controlled.

If you build a home tightly, you have to ventilate it correctly. We have to control air, liquid water, water vapor, and heat. Heat is especially complicated, as it has three different ways of moving and can come in sensitive and latent varieties. One way of controlling those is through control layers like vapor barriers, though these aren't always needed; we must understand the vapor flow to determine if a vapor barrier is necessary.

Dr. Bailes and Bryan also discuss:

  • Energy Vanguard's resources
  • The chapters of "A House Needs to Breathe... Or Does It?"
  • IAQ - filtration, humidity control, ventilation, and source control
  • Challenges with attic air
  • Dr. Bailes's book-writing process
  • The HVACR Training Symposium and other events w/ Dr. Bailes


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