For a comfortable and healthy indoor environment, you need good ventilation in your home. While there are lots of different options to choose from – window vents, door vents, wall vents, air bricks, ceiling vents, in our opinion, one of the best additions you can make to your home is also one of the most underrated: trickle vents.
These little background vents, typically situated above your windows, are barely noticeable, yet play a vital role in helping you achieve proper ventilation and air flow in your home.
In this article, we’ll delve into the concept of trickle vents, explore their applications across different contexts, and highlight the many benefits they bring to both residential and commercial spaces.
What is a trickle vent?
A trickle vent is a small opening in a window or door frame that allows a controlled amount of air to flow (or trickle) into a building. They’re designed to provide background ventilation, i.e. a continuous flow of air that helps to remove moisture and pollutants from the air, without altering the air temperature in the room.
Why are trickle vents important?
Trickle vents are especially important in modern homes as these tend to be airtight in comparison to older homes. And while an airtight house is great for increased energy efficiency (and therefore cost savings), when there’s no through flow of air it can trap moisture, which in turn can lead to mould growth among other problems.
Trickle vents are a simple solution that help prevent this by providing a way for small volumes of fresh air to continually enter your home (or office), while allowing stale air and moisture to escape.
How trickle vents work
Trickle vents operate on an incredibly basic principle – they facilitate the exchange of stale air inside the building for fresh air outside by taking advantage of the natural pressure differences between indoor and outdoor environments.
Quite simply, when the wind blows against the outside of a building, even a gentle breeze, it forces air into the trickle vents. At the same time, indoor air, which might be warmer and less dense, is pushed out through other openings, ensuring a steady flow of fresh air.
Types of trickle vents
Which type of trickle vent should you choose?
- Fixed trickle vents are the most basic type of trickle vent. They’re permanently installed in the window or door frame at a fixed angle and can’t be opened or closed. Fixed trickle vents are typically made of plastic or metal and have a small opening which allows a controlled amount of air to flow through. These vents are suitable for spaces where a steady supply of ventilation is required without the need for further adjustments.
- Adjustable trickle vents allow you to control the amount of air that flows through them. They typically have an opener that can be adjusted to open or close the opening. Adjustable trickle vents are a good option if you want to be able to control the ventilation in your home depending on the weather or your needs.
- Thermostatic trickle vents are the most advanced type of trickle vent. These vents are equipped with a sensor that detects temperature fluctuations in your home or office and automatically open and close based on the temperature inside your building. For example, when the indoor temperature rises, the vents automatically open to allow cooler air to enter. Conversely, when the temperature drops, the vents close to prevent cold drafts. This type of trickle vent is ideal for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment while conserving energy; they can also help prevent condensation and mould growth by ensuring there’s always a fresh supply of air flowing.
Applications of trickle vents
Where and how can trickle vents be installed?
Trickle vents are commonly installed with new windows. They’re particularly useful in rooms that are prone to moisture build-up, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
In commercial settings, where a significant number of people gather, having adequate ventilation is key for ensuring air quality and comfort. Trickle vents are often installed in office spaces, conference rooms, and even retail establishments to maintain a constant supply of fresh air.
Benefits of trickle vents
- Improved air quality: One of the primary advantages of trickle vents is the continuous supply of fresh air they provide. This helps dilute indoor pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and allergens, contributing to a healthier indoor environment.
- Reduced energy bills: Trickle vents offer an energy-efficient ventilation solution. Unlike traditional windows that need to be fully opened for fresh air, trickle vents provide controlled airflow without significant heat loss, helping to maintain indoor comfort while saving on energy costs.
- Increased comfort: Trickle vents can help to increase the comfort level in your home by preventing the build-up of humidity. In turn, this can help prevent condensation and dampness which can make your home feel muggy and uncomfortable.
- Reduced mould growth: Mould tends to grow in places where there’s moisture and stagnant air. Trickle vents help to prevent this mould growth by providing a continuous flow of fresh air.
- Prevented condensation: Condensation occurs when warm, humid air comes into contact with a cold surface. Again, trickle vents help prevent condensation by providing a way for the moisture to escape.
- Healthy living environment: By improving air quality, reducing energy bills, and increasing your comfort, trickle vents can help create a healthier living environment for you and your family.
How to choose the right trickle vents for your home
When it comes to choosing the best trickle vent for your home, there are a few things to take into consideration:
Trickle vents vs. regular vents
- Trickle vents are designed to provide a small, continuous flow of air, while regular vents such as windows, door vents, ceiling vents, even air bricks are designed to provide a larger, more intermittent flow of air. This makes trickle vents more effective at preventing condensation and mould growth.
- Trickle vents are typically smaller and less noticeable than regular vents. This can be important if you are concerned about the aesthetics of your windows or doors.
- Trickle vents are typically less expensive than regular vents. This is because they are simpler to manufacture and install.
Factors to consider before installing trickle vents
- The type of trickle vent: As mentioned above, there are three main types of trickle vents: fixed, adjustable, and thermostatic.
- The size of the vent: The size of the vent will determine how much air can flow through it. A larger vent will allow more air to flow, but it may also be more noticeable.
- The material of the vent: The material of the vent will affect its durability and lifespan. Plastic vents are less expensive than metal vents, but they may not be as durable.
- The installation method: The installation method will affect the ease of installation and the cost of installation. Some trickle vents can be installed by the homeowner, while others require professional installation.
Common misconceptions about window trickle vents
- Trickle vents are bad for energy efficiency. This isn’t true. Trickle vents actually help improve energy efficiency by preventing heat from escaping from your home by allowing a small amount of air to flow in, which helps circulate the air and prevent it from becoming stagnant.
- Trickle vents are only necessary in humid climates. This is also not true. Trickle vents can be beneficial in any climate where you want to improve indoor air quality, but are especially important in humid climates where there’s an increased risk of condensation and mould growth.
- Trickle vents are difficult to install. Again, not true. Trickle vents can be easily installed by most homeowners.
- Trickle vents are unsightly. We don’t think this, in fact, most people won’t even notice them in your modern windows.
- Trickle vents compromise the security of a home. Again, not true. Trickle vents are engineered with security in mind. They’re designed to allow airflow while preventing unauthorised access. The openings are too small for anyone to fit through, ensuring your home remains secure even with the vents in operation.
How to install trickle vents and maintain them
If you’re concerned that installing trickle vents is a complex and time-consuming process, don’t. Trickle vents are designed for relatively straightforward installation. Professional installers can seamlessly integrate them into existing windows or doors without causing disruption. Or, you can fit them yourself.
If you’re installing replacement windows, ask for the vents to be included in the window structure itself, otherwise, the process is efficient and doesn’t require extensive modifications to the existing window structure.
Are trickle vents suitable for all types of windows?
Trickle vents are suitable for most types of windows, including sash windows with a wooden window frame, casement windows, awning windows, and bay windows. If you're unsure, check with the manufacturer or installer.
Can trickle vents be added to existing windows?
Yes, trickle vents can be added to existing windows. There are a few different ways to do this, and the best method will depend on the type of window and the type of trickle vent. In some cases, it may be possible to install the trickle vent yourself, but in other cases, it may be necessary to hire a professional for guaranteed trickle vent installation.
Is professional installation necessary for trickle vents?
The installation of trickle vents can be done by a professional or by a DIYer. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully to ensure proper installation. If the trickle vent is not installed properly, it may not be effective and could even damage your windows.