The Benefits of Home Ventilation
to Homeowners

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 Jeremy Brady

The benefits of home ventilation are many and varied and will go a long way to helping reduce condensation as well as disperse VOCs (volatile organic compounds found in many floor coverings, furniture, toys etc) and smells etc.

In the past ventilation wasn’t such an issue due primarily to the fact that homes were pretty ‘leaky’ by which I mean they had lots of gaps around doors, windows and services. These gaps allowed fresh air to come into the house and ventilate it.

Now however with the cost of heating going through the roof and all the emphasis on creating an eco-home we all want to make out homes air-tight and keep the heat in for as long as possible. And while on the face of it that all sound good, after all who doesn’t want a warmer and less draughty house? It can actually create other problems such as mould growth, condensation, even rot.

But first things first, it’s important to understand what condensation is and why adequate ventilation is essential to the health of you, your family and your home.

What is condensation?

Condensation in it’s simplest form is where water vapour in the air comes into contact with a cool surface and condenses to form water droplets. I go into a little more detail in this article on condensation, but suffice to say condensation is a bad thing and you don’t really want it in your home if at all possible.

Benefits of Home Ventilation

What do I mean by ventilation?

This is where it can get confusing. When I talk about ventilation I mean a steady and constant supply of fresh air into your home to replace the stale air already in your home.

In modern households the air can be full of VOCs, water vapour and cooking smells etc. 

Fresh air from outside comes into your home by various routes and as it does so some of the stale air has to leave. Picture a bucket full to the brim with blue liquid. then imagine pouring clear water into the bucket. The clear water displaces and dilutes the blue water as you pour it in. We know this because the blue colour gets less and less until eventually it becomes clear.

The ventilation in your home works on the same basis. The more ventilation you have the less pollutants, smells and water vapour there is to cause condensation, mould and smells etc.

Cross Ventilation

The Benefits of Home Ventilation:

As discussed above modern homes can be affected by VOCs and water vapour. Diluting these by having adequate ventilation means your home will smell fresh (unless you live beside a pig farm) and less likely to suffer from condensation.

How can you increase the ventilation in your home?

There are simple ways of making sure you have adequate ventilation:

  • Open trickle vents in windows - If you have uPVC double glazing and you don’t have any trickle vents you might want to consider getting some installed (unless you live in a house with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery).

  • Don’t close all the internal doors in your home - If you have air coming in through a trickle vent at the front of your home there’s a good chance you’ll have air going out through a trickle vent at the rear of the house due to wind pressure differences. If however you have a door closed between these two areas you will restrict the airflow a bit.

  • Pull furniture away from external walls - external walls are prone to greater temperature differences and hence condensation. If the furniture is tight against the wall the air flow will be restricted and thus increase the risk of condensation in these locations.

  • Open windows on a regular basis

If you still have issues with condensation or mould check out my article on condensation for a few simple ideas as to what you can do to try and reduce this problem.

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The benefits of home ventilation aren’t just restricted to reducing condensation and mould. It also helps reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds that are present in so many things in our home, from furniture to toys and floor coverings etc. These VOCs then leach into the air in our homes where our families breath them in potentially doing untold damage.

The same is true of Radon gas which affects tens of thousands of homes in Northern Ireland. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause cancer. According to local government figures about one in five homes in Northern Ireland is affected by Radon to some extent and around 1000 lung cancer deaths in the UK are linked to Radon gas.

Benefits of Home Ventilation Conclusion

The benefits of home ventilation shouldn't be ignored.

Building Control stipulate levels of air changes within homes for good reason. Unfortunately occupiers don’t always appreciate the importance of this and often carry out works that can reduce the amount of  ventilation during their occupancy of the property.

If you think you don’t have adequate ventilation there are relatively easy ways of increasing it and at the same time improving the air quality in your home. 


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