What Are Trickle Vents?

Trickle vents are adjustable vents that sit at the top of a window or door that allow ventilation to enter a home or building. Small holes are routed out at the top of the window frame or sash that allow air to pass through. The trickle vents are clipped on to the profile that allows the user to control the amount of ventilation that comes through.

Trickle vents are made from injection-moulded PVCu and come in a variety of colours and wood grain to match the colour of the windows. The range of colours and wood grains can vary depending on the supplier, but most now offer a very wide range to suit almost all window profile colour options on the market.

Where Are Trickle Vents Required?

Currently, according to the existing version of Building Regulations, trickle vents on windows are required in the following areas:

  • On windows and doors to all new-build homes
  • On windows and doors to newly built extensions
  • On replacement windows and doors that currently have them fitted

Right now, new revisions to Building Regulations are being discussed in Government which may change the necessity of where trickle vents are required in the future. This is the Future Building Standards consultation. You can find more about that here.

Why Are They Needed?

There has been a lot of improvement in the energy efficiency of windows over the past ten years, which has since called into question the airtightness of homes. Industry experts in this area, Glazpart, explain it like this:

Over the last few revisions of the regulations, the airtightness of buildings has become an increasing issue. On the one hand, there has been a drive to improve the thermal efficiency of windows whilst reducing energy consumption, as we build greener buildings. The consequence has been that as dwellings are made more airtight and internally generated pollutants affect disproportionately indoor air quality. This may cause adverse health effects unless unobtrusive background ventilation is installed.

Background ventilation is, therefore, necessary to provide a healthy indoor environment for the occupants. The primary purpose of trickle ventilation is to remove polluted indoor air from a building and replace it with ’Fresh’ outside air. Background Ventilation is a key product for a healthy living environment. These small trickle ventilators are designed to deliver controllable whole room ventilation.

As homes become more energy-efficient, more attention is needed to ensure homes are ventilated efficiently. Trickle vents, although not the only way to ventilate a home, is one of a variety of ways in which to do so.

Where Are Trickle Vents Most Useful?

Using trickle vents in every room to provide background ventilation is never a bad thing. However, there are rooms in a home where they are of particular use. These are areas such as Kitchens, Bathrooms, Utility rooms etc, where appliances, showers and baths produce large amounts of moist, damp air which needs to be expelled from the room.

If damp, warm air is allowed to build up in any room, this can lead to dampness and then health problems for the occupants of that home or building.

Are Regulations Going To Change?

The Government carried out consultations on what updates are required to the current Building Regulations. Ventilation is covered in Part F of Building Regulations. Detailed information from the Government about Part F Ventilation can be found here.

The chances are that when the updated version of Building Regulations is published there will be updated regulations with regards to Part F Ventilation and it is likely trickle vents will play a greater role. There was a consultation period open to industry and the public on this matter which ran from January to April of this year. That has now closed and the Government is considering the comments that were submitted to them.

Any changes are likely to be implemented by 2025.

Why Is There Such Debate Around Trickle Vents?

The use of trickle vents in UK fenestration has long been discussed in the industry since their inception. Over time, the design, aesthetics and functionality of the product have improved. But the industry has been at odds with itself as to the merits of these products.

Those against them say that they actively work against the energy efficiency properties of modern windows, that they are not pleasing to the eye and that there are more effective ways to ventilate a room.

Those for them argue that they do indeed provide effective background ventilation, that the rapidly improving energy efficiency levels of windows require a more permanent adaptation to ensure that there is a constant flow allowing damp air to escape a room.

The debate will continue, but it does look like the use of trickle vents is going to be expanded over time due to regulation changes.

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