Plusaire was founded in 1992 by British-born engineer Tony Baptist. After he came to Canada in 1969, he worked for a chimney manufacturer near his home in Ancaster, Ontario. Wood stove owners regularly complained of smoke backing into their homes. In fact, Baptist noticed the problem in his own home and he had two new babies to consider.
It’s a question of pressure”
Tony began canvassing these homes, taking notes and observing details until he found the single common denominator. All of them, old or new, were either made tight or renovated to a too tight level, just like our modern R2000 homes.
“It’s a question of pressure,” says Baptist, who now operates his manufacturing facilities out of Princeton, Ontario, near Paris. “We’re the first company to make something that balances the pressure in a house. That’s why it works.”
Baptist explains that “stack effect” is created by the simple process of warm air rising to the uppermost ceiling, some of which escapes through nooks, cracks, and ceiling light fixtures, creating a low-pressure area in the basement. “We’re talking pressure of one or two pascals which is about the same as the beat of a butterfly’s wings.” But there is enough volume to create the “stack effect” which causes smoke to flow down instead of rising up the chimney.
“There’s probably only six people in the country who understand this properly,” says Baptist. And he’s one of them.
It took a couple of winter seasons of research and testing, but in 1982, he designed his first Plusaire unit for his house. It worked so well that in 1992, he went into business for himself and has since manufactured 6,000 units for homes across Canada and the U.S.
Plusaire now manufactures two different models in six sizes to suit homes up to 10,000 sq.ft. Each one is powered and passive dependent upon what the home’s requirements are at that time. They can also contain an ultraviolet air purifier to further purify the home and the incoming air.
Here’s how it works.
Through a single hole cut into the basement wall, outside air is drawn inside and ia addeds to the furnace return duct via the Plusaire. It does this as the furnace runs, so warm air going through the furnace supply duct is also circulated through the Plusaire chamber, warming the incoming fresh air. The unit supplies fresh air to the house even when the furnace fan isn’t blowing by virtue of bathroom or kitchen fans, fireplaces or wood stoves, the central vacuum or the clothes dryer because it draws in fresh air to replace the exhausted air being blown out by these appliances.
Small or large homes can benefit, even those fitted with an HRV (heat recovery ventilator) because HRVs recirculate air, but don’t introduce the extra air that the exhaust fans are expelling or fireplaces or furnaces need for combustion. This introduction of fresh air also results in less condensation simply because winter air is drier than inside air.
Since it has no moving parts, the Plusaire is maintenance-free (except for a little box lever to close the vents during air-conditioning operation in the summer) so has nothing to break down. Baptist also says he will fully refund the price and installation cost if it doesn’t work.
Tony Baptist has been nominated for a Manning Award, an achievement named after Manitoba’s Ernest Manning for a Canadian Entrepreneur who has designed something that enhances Canadian lives. In fact, Mountainview Homes, the largest builder on the Niagara peninsula, installs one in every new home they construct.