What are trickle vents and why do I need them on my aluminium windows and doors?

You may have come across the term trickle vents when looking into new windows and doors, but perhaps you are unsure exactly what they are or why you need them. Here’s what you need to know.

If you have already done some research into aluminium windows and doors, you may have picked up on the fact that the home improvements being manufactured today are chasms away from those made years ago. Developments in security and energy efficiency in the last decade alone have seen the performance of these products soar. Meanwhile, we have been busy insulating the rest of our homes with cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, draught proofing, thermal curtains, and smart thermostats. This is all good news for the energy performance of our homes, but it does also mean that we have created airtight homes with little room for air to circulate.

The Building Regulations Approved Document F: Ventilation seeks to ensure all homes have adequate means of ventilation throughout the home to extract water vapour and indoor air pollutants, and supply a minimum level of outdoor air for occupants’ health. This is why trickle vents are a necessary part of your new windows and doors.

What are trickle vents?     

Trickle vents are small slots in your window or door, usually found at the very top of the frame. The slots on the inside of your home are staggered with those on the outside to allow a small amount of air to flow into the home while the window or door is closed, and without allowing the outside elements in. This is known as background ventilation because of the limited air flow. You can also open and close trickle vents to allow slightly more air to come through, but even when closed a small amount of air can get through.  

Are trickle vents compulsory?

If you are replacing windows or doors that currently have trickle vents, your new windows and doors must have them too. You don’t have to have the same style of window, or choose the same material as your previous windows, but you must have trickle vents. Any new windows and doors for an extension, or in a new home for example, also need to comply with all Building Regulations, including Approved Document F.  

Are there any circumstances when trickle vents aren’t required?

There are a couple of exemptions from the Building Regulations, including some listed properties and homes in conservation areas. They may also not be required if you have another sufficient means of ventilation in the room. However as neither of these situations are common, the likelihood is you will need trickle vents.

This is worth noting because unfortunately, there have been examples of installers suggesting to homeowners that Building Regulations aren’t important, or that trickle vents aren’t necessary, despite what Building Regulations say. This simply isn’t the case, so be sure to research the topic yourself (links below) and choose a reputable installer to carry out the work for you. 

Why is it a good thing to have vents in my new aluminium windows and doors?

Some people are bothered by the aesthetics of trickle vents at the top of their windows and doors, while others barely notice they are there. Whatever your feelings about them, you can rest assured that they are a useful and good thing to have. Air in the home would start to get very stale without some level of ventilation, and trickle vents are a convenient way to let fresh air in, without having to open the windows or doors. In the warmer months there is nothing nicer than throwing open the windows, but through the colder months it’s not always a comfortable option. And if you’re out at work all day, it’s probably not practical either. Trickle vents are a good secondary option to allow some fresh air into the home whatever the weather, and whether it is occupied or not.

Where can I find out more?

To ensure you have all the facts before you embark on sourcing your new home improvements, you can find full details of Approved Document F on the Government website here but there is also a shorter summary of the requirements written by FENSA, the government authorised scheme monitoring building regulation compliance for the installation of replacement windows and doors. Alternatively, please feel free to contact one of our trusted Reynaers at Home Partners, who must comply with a number of regular checks and assessments and adhere to a stringent code of conduct when advising and carrying out work for homeowners. All of our partners will be able to give you trustworthy advice and answer any questions you may still have about trickle vents, before you place an order, hopefully giving you peace of mind.

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