Ventilation in the home

Making sure that our homes are watertight and insulated is essential in the run up to winter, but you also need to make sure that your home is able to breathe. As we seal up our homes against the elements, we often overlook the need for air to circulate between indoors and outside. So many avoidable damp problems are caused by the failure to consider good ventilation, with mildew, fungus, ruined curtains and carpets often being the result.

When thinking about where you may need ventilation you need to consider any causes of condensation or dampness that may exist in your home and the rooms that these are in. Think about where you hang clothes to dry, cooking, bathing and if you have a tumble dryer.

grey tumble dryer

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The water from these processes, which manifests as steam or condensation has to go somewhere and will settle in the room if it has no simple way to escape. You will also have to take fuel-burning appliances into account, as you must have ventilation in a room where you have a boiler, hob, oven or fire.

When you have a tumble dryer installed you should have it set to vent to the outside via a length of ducting, as otherwise the water from the drying clothes will simply go back into your kitchen or utility room.

utility room

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The most simple form of ventilation for your home is what is known as static ventilation and this takes the form of a simple hole in the wall, into which a vent is installed. You will probably already have some of these visible around the floor level at the front of your house, with plastic or metal grates covering the ventilation holes. Most of these will be permanently open to allow ventilation, although those that open into a room (rather than a void or a cellar) will often have a sliding cover over them. It is best to leave these open as much as you can, even in winter. Don’t put furniture too near these or allow them to become blocked or covered.

This form of ventilation can also be assisted by ‘trickle vents’ in modern glazing units, which are like mini grates that allow window in at the top or base of the window frame. The draughty windows of the past would have served a similar purpose, proving that inefficient home insulation was good for something at least.

light kitchen

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For your bathroom, you will want to make sure that you have an efficient extractor fan installed, with the same in your kitchen. These should vent to the outside to be efficient at ridding the room of moisture. Opening a window now and then will not do the job and can actually make things worse, due to the difference in air temperatures and moisture. If you find that you have a problem with damp in your bathroom then do not leave clothes to dry in there and remove damp towels after bathing or showering.

Good, simple ventilation should keep most homes free from moisture where it is not wanted. De-cluttering and tidying can help too, allowing air to flow more freely. In some cases it may be best to consult a specialist about a whole house ventilation system, although these can prove expensive to both install and run.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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