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Artist's Studio Ventilation

Is there a way to get rid of fumes from my artist's studio without losing heat?

Richard Trehewey holds a toilet

I'm an artist who paints in oils, which means I also use turpentine and other chemicals. My studio is a small, 16-by-22-foot building, and in the winter the fumes are so bad that I can't paint as much as I'd like. Is there a way to get rid of the fumes without losing a lot of heat?
—Charlene Monger, Twisp, Wash.


Richard Tretheway replies: Well, you could strap on a respirator with filter cartridges for turpentine vapors. It's portable, cheap, and very effective, if you don't mind looking like someone from a hazmat squad.
In case that's not quite what you had in mind, there is another solution: a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), sometimes called an air-to-air heat exchanger. This clever device pulls in fresh air from outside the house through one duct as it exhausts stale air from inside through a separate duct. The two airflows cross paths, but don't mix, at a heat exchanger. The exchanger captures 60 to 80 percent of the heat out of the outgoing air and transfers it to the air coming in. You might want to consider connecting the exhaust duct of your HRV to a fume hood, the kind used in chemistry labs. If you position it right over your easel, it should make your HRV even more effective at removing those fumes right at the source. It will cost more than a gas mask, but it's a lot more comfortable.


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