Clearview North September 2014 - Issue 154 - Page 50

doors&windows The debate about trickle vents continues, following Andrew Halsall’s recent article... What have trickle vents ever done for us..? Quite a lot actually! Says Tyson Anderson, Sales & Marketing Director at Titon. It was surprising to read Andrew Halsall’s views on trickle vents (complete with Monty Python comparison) in July’s issue of Clearview, although his article certainly enforced the need for more education to be provided about the role of trickle vents! Titon is probably the largest trickle vent manufacturer in the UK, and has been producing them for more than 40 years. Now, when Mr Halsall questions the need for vents when it is “obvious” to “open a door or window”, it is at this point where understanding background ventilation is vital. It’s easy to confuse the three different types of ventilation defined in the UK Building Regulations. We all know about extract ventilation, such as fans in bathrooms and kitchens for dispersing moisture build up during cooking or showering. It is more difficult, however, to understand the need for background ventilation as opposed to purge (or rapid, as it used to be called) ventilation. The latter covers opening a window when a large amount of air needs to be moved – if someone is decorating, for instance. BACKGROUND VENTILATION It is in background ventilation where trickle vents come into play. Every dwelling requires air to be changed to remove indoor air pollutants which emanate from the human environment. These include VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and all sorts of particles which shouldn’t stay in the air indefinitely. These issues are even more pressing now, as a result of the proliferation of household electronics which encourage the build up of electro-static dust in the habitable atmosphere. Movement of air also helps disperse general moisture in other habitable rooms (besides bathrooms and kitchens). If the moisture doesn’t escape, it can build up, leading to 50 SEP 2014 potential mould growth problems, affecting not only occupants’ health but also damaging the building itself. This air movement can’t be provided on an ongoing basis by simply opening windows, owing to energy loss and security concerns at certain times of day or season. As better quality windows are installed in properties, either in new build or retrofit projects, the dwelling becomes more tightly sealed - meaning the air doesn’t get exchanged the way it used to years ago, via cracks in the building fabric: such as through ill-fitting doors and windows. Indeed, companies such as Mr Halsall’s are indirectly the cause of the proliferation of vents! SECURITY ISSUES Many in the window industry would argue that night vent positions on multipoint locks and handles provide this background ventilation. The Building Regulations do not, however, recommend night vent positions for obvious reasons: it isn’t secure and, from a quick glance, it is often difficult to see if it has been left in that position. But for a burglar, it provides an easy point of entry. Insurance companies would point out - if there’s a breakin where a window has been left in the night vent position - then it was in fact left open – making it unlikely they would pay out. There is also lack of control, as a night vent position regularly over-ventilates a room with greater risk of draughts – discouraging occupants from using it. So, when a low level of ventilation is required, they are left with a sealed room that has an increased risk of condensation! Trickle vents are the best way to provide background ventilation, as they can be left open without compromising security, even when you leave the building for any length of time. Plus, they can be closed by the occupant(s) whenever they wish, for instance if it is very windy outside. There are even some vents designed to attenuate certain levels of external noise. ADDING VALUE What surprises us as manufacturers is why some window companies haven’t used these reasons as part of a marketing campaign, adding value to a window. This would more than cover the cost of the fabrication and installation of the vents. So, trickle vents may be unfairly deemed unwanted, but they are definitely needed. Simply dismissing them on the grounds of aesthetics – labelling them ‘ugly’ or ‘stupid looking’ – is hardly subjective and overlooking their purpose. Indeed, it’s about time the message spread to the window buying public. They are the ones setting their indoor living conditions, more often than not with no idea of the implications of poor indoor air quality. Titon is a market leader for domestic ventilation with over 40 years’ experience in supplying countries all over the world. It invests extensively in manufacturing, research, and development facilities, keeping the company at the forefront of new technology and ensuring innovative products at competitive prices. www.titon.co.uk *Proper ventilation is important for all of us and all Tyson has raised some pertinent issues here – such as why window companies haven’t used this ventilation issue as part of a marketing campaign, adding value to a window. We’d be interested to hear any other opinions or ideas on the subject. Email to: becky@clearview-uk.com To read more, visit www.clearview-uk.com