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Trickle Vents – Condensing The Options - November 2011

This article appeared in Installer, November 2011

 
Trickle vents - condensing the options

Ventilating a property effectively and reducing the age-old problem of condensation is crucial, especially throughout the winter months. Tyson Anderson, Sales and Marketing Director at Titon, takes a look at one of the easiest and most cost effective options available.

As my learned friend Don Waterworth pointed out in the last issue of The Installer, the condensation season is well and truly here, with the perils of black mould, contaminants and air staleness just around the corner for some homeowners! But if windows are replaced and the problems become more apparent, fabricators and installers will be expected to know the answers to this common household problem.

Of course there are far more factors at play than just window design, such as the indoor temperature, construction design, insulation and living habits. However, at the centre of many a condensation crisis is poor ventilation, so for fabricators and installers looking for an effective and inexpensive method to reduce the potential problems, there should be one product at the forefront of their minds – the trickle vent.

It’s not always been a smooth ride for the trickle vent and it wasn’t until the 2010 revisions to Part F, that we saw guidance finally included for replacement windows. Although some thought it would be the end of the line for trickle vents in general as background ventilation, it is safe to say they are now firmly embedded in the regulations. And when it comes to helping solve the problems of condensation, they are one of the easiest options available.

Yet despite their undeniable place in the industry, we are all too aware of fabricators and installers not always recommending this option, even if they come across trickle vents in new-build situations. One of the common objections to installing them is that a night vent position - via a handle or espagnolette - fulfils the same ventilation requirements, but there are some inherent problems with this approach. The first of which, is the issue of security. If the window is left in a partially open position, it makes it susceptible to forced entry, especially as many occupants either forget - or can’t easily tell - if the window has been left open. Secondly, there is a lack of control. A night vent position regularly over-ventilates a room with greater risk of draughts, which discourages 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! The third (and possibly the most important) reason is regulatory. The latest revisions to Part F (England & Wales) state that the size of the ventilation provision cannot be measured by Building Control if it’s provided via a night vent position, leading to trickle vents in windows becoming the recommended route. And more importantly, Building Control has become more aware of the situation since last year’s revisions, so it’s becoming a less viable option.

Now, fitting trickle vents as standard might seem like an unnecessary and unwanted step for many fabricators or installers, but it shouldn’t be. As a result of the changes to the Building Regulations, a greater proportion of windows coming off the production line will already have vents on the frames, or at least slots ready for fitting on-site. So not only do they help maintain healthy bottom lines, but they also offer added value to the customer. For installers it’s important to remember that the living habits of households vary widely, and there is often a lack of understanding on how to balance the heating and ventilation in a property. Trickle vents are a simple and sensible way to help solve this issue, and to ensure the right size is used; manufacturers such as Titon mark their vents with the Equivalent Area (EA), which is the industry accepted method of determining the performance of a ventilator.

However, before there is a torrent of trickle vents installed, there is one important factor to bear in mind. Detailed information must be available to the householder, as the majority will not be versed on how to ventilate properties effectively. By explaining and highlighting their benefits, it will help ensure occupiers use them properly and reduce the long-term risk of condensation and its associated problems. Plus, for installers who have good levels of knowledge on the subject and provide useful advice, it will improve their reputation and limit possible complaints.

For those who are still not convinced, why not consider the use of trickle vents in the same way that security improvements have been used over recent years in the window industry – as added value to the sale rather than a last resort when requested? In tough times, sensible up selling could contribute to margin growth - not to mention healthy buildings and occupants.

Now, as a leading manufacturer of trickle vents you won’t be surprised to hear us say that we believe they are going to be with us for many years to come. But if fabricators or installers would like any advice or guidance, why not speak to an expert at Titon on 01206 713800, or visit www.titon.co.uk or www.partf.co.uk

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