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Domestic Ventilation Solutions Your choices

A CPD Course by Vortice Ltd

Vortice Overview
Vortice comes from the Italian name Vortex, which means movement of air, and that is precisely
what Vortice is all about - products that heat, change and purify the air that we breathe.

Established in Milan in 1954 by Atillio Pagani, who to this day is still head of the company, the
Vortice name has become synonymous with ventilation, air conditioning, air cleaning and heating.

Atillio Pagani had only one ambition and that was to manufacture products that would improve
the quality of air. His aim was to make the best products and then tell people about them. Today,
Vortice still remains an independent company and is the only Ventilation Company where all
product performances are third party certified.

As the leading European manufacturer, Vortice operates in Italy, France, the UK and 84 other
countries around the world. The company has achieved market leadership due to its dedicated
efforts to produce products, which are both safe, reliable and attractively designed, and at the
same time aiming to provide total satisfaction to those who sell, buy and install the products.

In addition, the company continues to make significant improvements, by investing in continuous

research to improve the efficiency and quality of its products. Furthermore, Vortice is proud of its
excellent, world wide distribution network and its marketing communication support.

Vortice Limited
Located 30 miles west of London, in a
rural location near Reading, Vortice Ltd
has been established in the UK and Eire
markets since 1977. The company offers
the full range of Vortice products and
provides the level of sales, technical and
customer support required from a
successful UK company.

Domestic Ventilation Solutions

Your Choices
This CPD course covers the following areas:

Environmental factors in creating the best

possible conditions indoors;

The Problems - condensation;

The zonal concept of Amendment No 3 to the
IEE Wiring Regulations;

Methods of achieving effective domestic ventilation;

The pros and cons of each method.
The fundamental basics of all domestic ventilation must
adhere to one legal regulation - Part F1 to the Building
Regulations 1991.
There shall be adequate means of ventilation
provided for people in the building.
This is the only legal requirement for ventilation. So,
what is it all about?

Whats it all about?

Creating Individual Comfort with Adjustable Products and
Ventilation systems are designed to create the best possible conditions indoors to provide the
right degree of comfort. The main environmental factors involved are:

Temperature Relative Humidity

Airflow Rate Air Quality
Other controllable environmental factors include noise, light and colour. A greater degree of
comfort is provided when all factors are included. Therefore it is preferable to control as many
factors as possible.
When selecting a ventilation system, a designers job is to make use of all the elements. In order
to fully meet the clients requirements, these will include the choice of extractor fans,
accessories, identifying and enforcing good ventilation practice and all at an acceptable price.

The temperature range from which comfort
conditions can be obtained is wide and will vary
between 19C and 24C. The most appropriate
temperature should be:
Winter 19C - 23C
Summer 20C - 24C
The human body also exchanges heat through
convection and radiation, which is why the temperature of the surrounding air is so important.
This also depends on the temperature of the surrounding walls, and if the thermal load has been
calculated correctly these conditions can be met easily.

Relative Humidity
Ideally, the relative humidity (RH) should fall within the 40%
and 60% range. An RH of 40% and lower causes throat
and skin dryness. An RH of 60% and higher causes
discomfort, headaches and the skin feels sticky. A feeling of
discomfort is already noticeable at the upper and lower limits
(60% and 40%).

Airflow Rate
The human body has been designed by nature
to cope with airflow against it. When airflow is
from any direction except the front of the body,
it is considered to be uncomfortable and should
be avoided.
Therefore the position of air inlets and outlets
requires careful consideration. If airflow from the
side or rear cannot be avoided, the airflow must
be kept as low as possible, between 0.1 m/s and
0.15 m/s.
The location of occupants and furnishings should
also be considered to prevent poor airflow current
and direction.

Air Quality
It is not easy to identify the quality of air in an enclosed
room, as it is difficult for occupants to say whether or not the
air they are breathing is of good quality. It is just as difficult to
define what air quality truly is as air is a complex mass made
up of various gases containing solid particles in suspension.

A comfortable indoor air quality is one that is not unacceptably malodorous. However, some
contaminants which cannot be detected may produce irritation or long term health effects, some
of which might be life-threatening.
Occupants of buildings where proper ventilation has not been adopted can possibly develop
symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, dryness of the mucous membranes, running or
reddening of the eyes, stuffy or running noses, flu-like symptoms, and more rarely, tightening of
the chest and itchy rashes, although the latter may be found more prevalent in those that are
subject to asthmatic and related conditions, disturbingly on the increase in the UK.
The problem is a complex one as there are many sources of pollutant that emit thousands of
contaminants in the form of gas.

Composition of the air we breathe can be loosely defined

as follows:

% by Volume









Exposure to air involves exposure to a cocktail of thousands of substances all having relatively
low concentrations compared with the predominant three, Nitrogen, Oxygen and CO2.
Substances found range from the relatively harmless products of metabolic processes, to low
concentrations of highly toxic and, in some cases, carcinogenic substances.
In general terms the following can be potential sources of contaminants:

Building materials such as floor coverings, particle board, insulation materials, chipboard,
jointing compounds, paint, wallpaper and adhesives, varnishes, linoleum, and cement, to name
just a few. These contain traces of chemicals such as Styrene, Benzene, Xylene, Hexane,
Heptane, Ethyl acetate, n-Nonane, n-Decane and so on.

Pollutants such as household dust, dust mites, mould spores, vehicle exhaust, cleaning fluids,
imitation leather furniture, paint remover, spot cleaners, floor wax, room fresheners, products of
complete and incomplete combustion, unflued heaters, cooking and of course, tobacco smoke.

In addition, the quality of air will deteriorate as the occupants in a room breathe the air they
will also emit heat, water vapour and carbon dioxide, which in turn, affects the quality of
the air.
So it goes without saying that there are more toxins inside the dwelling than there
are outside.

The Problems - Condensation

Condensation is a lifestyle problem. Empty houses do not suffer from condensation.
Q. Why do we need ventilation?
A. Because the current Building Regulations demand it.
Q. Why was it necessary for the introduction of Document F1 and Document K,
(Scotland), of the Building Regulations?
A. To overcome condensation.
In the pre-war good old days before regulations had even been thought about, and when
domestic dwellings had open, coal fired heating, single glazed windows and badly fitting doors,
clean air was able to enter the building easily.
There were little or no health related problems with ventilation, people simply froze! Air was
needed to provide oxygen for the open fires and also to prevent the occupants from succumbing
to carbon monoxide poisoning, unless they froze to death first.
Then, during the 1960s came dramatic oil price increases and thoughts turned to energy costs.
Insulation and draught proofing became the order of the day and that was when all the
problems began. Sealed homes began to fill with moisture and then came the dreaded
curse - Condensation!
BRE Digest 297, originally surveyed in the 60s but updated in
1990, shows that the English House Condition Survey of 1986
indicates that there were 3.5 million households where interior
decoration or furniture was affected by dampness. Data collected
by the Scottish Office indicates that the situation is similar in
Scotland and is likely to be similar in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Despite all previous efforts, dampness continues to be a serious
problem in UK housing and exists in a variety of different types of
housing structure and is an exceptionally good growing medium
for mould.
Mould spores are always present in large numbers in the outside
air, and can easily find their way inside houses. To germinate and
grow, moulds need a source of food, oxygen, suitable temperatures and moisture.
Assuming that dampness is not the result of rain penetration, plumbing defects or rising damp,
then condensation is the most likely cause of mould development and growth. Condensation is
most likely to be a problem in the coldest months of the year and also in those houses which use
the least amount of heating.
The trouble starts on the coldest internal surfaces, such as the corners of rooms, wall to
floor junctions, solid lintels, poorly ventilated spaces like kitchen cupboards, wardrobes or
behind furniture.
Persistent condensation goes hand in hand with mould growth, because both are the result of
excess moisture in the air.
Building Regulations helped to alleviate this situation but because of the differing lifestyles of the
occupiers other systems were required to create a balance.

What can be done?

The average family produces approximately 15 litres of water per day - thats a staggering 1,200
gallons of water per year. (BS5925 1991). 9,600 pints! This briefly comprises washing, bathing,
cooking, sleeping, activity, gas and electric consumption.
To overcome condensation there are three basic elements that are required:

Heating Insulation Ventilation

If you combine these three elements then condensation may be reduced - but not eliminated.
(BS5250: 1991)
Overcoming this condensation problem can be summarised as follows:

Air contains more moisture when heated,
the warmer the air the more moisture it
contains. As temperatures drop (i.e. night
time) relative humidity rises resulting in

Cold surfaces attract moisture. Take a bottle of milk or can out of the fridge and watch the moist
air condense on it.

This is the key to removing excess moisture and provides oxygen for comfort and good health remember the outside air contains less moisture than internal air.

We have added a fourth element to our
equation, and that is to educate people into why
the other three factors are so important. Cooking,
washing, drying, showering and bathing all create
moisture and serious condensation if it isnt dealt
with properly.


(16th Edition)
There has been some confusion in the industry recently with the zonal concept introduced by
Amendment No 3 to BS 7671: 1992 (AMD 10983), section 601.
Some specifiers and installers are being led to believe that it is compulsory to fit 12volt (SELV)
fans to meet the regulations. This is simply not the case - nowhere in the regulation, or the
previous version, does it say that SELV fans must be used.
Amendment No 3 became compulsory in January 2002 and has also been incorporated in the IEE
Wiring Regulations 16th Edition, BS 7671:2001
Section 601, entitled Locations containing a bath or shower lays out a system of four Zones,
0-3, starting with the bath tub or shower basin.
The regulation stipulates that fans fitted in Zones 1 and 2 must be at least IPX4 rated (Zone 1 will
require additional RCD protection). SELV can be used in Zone 1 as an alternative.

Typical Installation

Taking an example of a bathtub situated in the

corner of the bathroom, a practical
demonstration of the concept of zoning can be
made. Zone 0 is defined as the interior of the
bathtub or shower basin.
Zone 0

The area below the bath is defined as Zone 1 if

accessible without a tool or outside the zones if
a tool is required.
Zone 1 is defined as the upper plane of Zone 0
and the horizontal plane 2.25m above the floor.
Fans fitted in this zone must be IPX4 rated (and
protected by an RCD) or SELV.
Zone 1

Zone 2 extends 0.60m from Zone 1 in a

horizontal plane and to a height of 2.25m above
floor level. Zone 2 also extends above Zone 1 in
a vertical direction from 2.25m to 3.00m or
ceiling height, whichever is lower. Fans fitted in
this zone must be IPX4 rated or SELV.
Zone 2

Zone 3 extends 2.40m beyond Zone 2 in a horizontal

plane, extending to 2.25m above floor level.
Zone 3 also extends above Zone 2 in a vertical
direction from 2.25m to 3.00m or ceiling (whichever
is lower).

Zone 3

How to Achieve Effective Domestic

Ventilation Methods
The provisions of Part F1 of The Building Regulations explain in detail how to meet the
requirements for each room type and also give a list of alternative approaches.

So What are these Provisions and Alternative Approaches?

Rapid Ventilation - opening a window

These must be situated at high level (typically
1.75m from ground level) and must be secure.
They can be used in Habitable Rooms Only which
simply means that Lounges, Studies, Bedrooms
etc must have an opening window.

Background Ventilation - Slot Vents/Airbricks

These must be situated in every room in addition
to any other requirements. They need to be
controllable, trickle ventilators and ideally
situated so as to be secure and not cause
draughts. They help to supply replacement air for
extract ventilation.

Extract Ventilation - a choice of mechanical

extract or passive stack
To be used in all wet areas: Kitchen, Bathroom,
Shower Room, En-suite, Bathroom and Separate
WC (with no opening window). Defined extract
rates apply to each type of room.

Examining the Pros and Cons of

each method
Passive Stack Ventilation
The Building Regulations state that Passive Stack Ventilation should be designed and installed in
accordance with the BRE information paper 13/94 or with an appropriate third party certification
such as BBA.
Passive Stack Ventilation (PSV) works by a
combination of the natural stack effect,
ie, the movement of air that results from
the difference in temperature between
indoors and the outside, and the effect of
wind passing over the roof of the house.
Installations of vents in the ceiling of
each room are each connected to
ducting, which emerges through the roof
space to the ridge of the dwelling. In
effect, a modern version of the good old
chimney stack.
Fresh air is drawn into all habitable rooms
including those which contain an outlet,
by controllable trickle ventilators in the
external walls or windows. During the
cold weather, in normal UK weather
conditions, the ducts will allow warm
moist air from the wet rooms to be
vented directly outside.
The airflow rate will depend on several
factors, the most important, at low wind
speeds being the temperature difference between indoors and outside. All these factors you
must agree, are completely outside of your control and you must consider that you are
surrendering your design to the elements.
As the temperature inside increases, the airflow rate will also increase. However, wind speed and
direction also influence the rate of airflow but in a relatively complex way that depends on airtightness of the dwelling, ducting shape and position of outlets.
As a result many are now recommending that a PSV system should be controllable, either
manually or automatically through the use of humidity sensors. There are even hybrids called
Assisted Passive Stack, where an extract fan is added to the system to make it work.
PSV is common in a number of European countries and there are several thousand PSV systems
installed in England and Wales. However, many of these have been unsatisfactory due to bad
design and poor installation.

Design layout
The design layout of a PSV system is quite critical; a good design can be marred by a poor
installation layout. Initially the concept looks simple enough, after all it is fundamentally just a
chimney, however the following guidelines must be adhered to

A separate duct for each room to individual roof terminals.
The duct should extend externally to at least ridge height.
All ducting in lofts or other unheated places must be insulated.
As vertical as possible but if bends are required - less than 45 and no more than two.
A suitable ridge or roof terminal with insect, bird and rain guards.
Therefore you will have to allow for additional building work to box in and design all the
other services around your ducts.
As can be seen, the complexities of this system are many, as separate ducts are required for
each room.
Additionally, different dwellings may require different duct types, sizes, materials, and exhaust
terminals such as grilles, H pots, multivanes etc. It would be up to designers and architects to
gather the necessary information relating to the position of the dwelling in relation to the
prevailing countryside and other nearby dwellings in order to resolve this.
It is recommended that in the Kitchen this system is most effective if placed as near to the
centre line of the cooking hob as possible. Hardly energy efficient.
Overall though, the system has shown, via studies and tests carried out by the BRE, to achieve
adequate performance provided that guidelines are followed, (BRE report IP 13/94). However,
designers and architects will either view this system as a challenge or an enormous headache,
but either way they will certainly have to resort to multiple thinking caps if the system is to work
efficiently, especially if the system is to be considered for flats!

Suffice to say that other factors may emerge which could affect the design and layout of this
system and it would be wise to seek assistance from the Building Research Establishment (BRE)
on individual cases.

Pros & Cons of Passive Stack Ventilation


No running costs
Virtually silent operation
Can be unobtrusive


Has to be designed for each dwelling and lifestyle

Complex and expensive to install
Weather pressure systems can affect operation
Duct runs are difficult to route and effectively reduce room sizes
Unsightly roof terminals (at ridge height)
Control valve expense
No facility for rapid extraction of smells etc

Positive Pressure Ventilation

This form of ventilation is not one of the provisions or alternative approaches set out in the
Building Regulations Part F1.
Developed in the 1970s to deal with
condensation, without adversely
affecting the operation of open-flued
combustion appliances, there is
considerable anecdotal evidence that
this system can improve indoor
humidity conditions but there has been
only one official measurement of
performance to attempt to bear this out.

BRE Information IP 12/00 Positive Input

Ventilation in dwellings was jointly
funded by a company who specialise in
this type of equipment. This gives the results of a two part performance test over several months
and reaches mixed conclusions. In both the test and occupied houses the roof space was
consistently more humid than outside - in occupied houses it was not consistently effective in
reducing relative humidity. It was effective in the more humid houses but did little in the drier
houses and there were often inconsistencies between rooms in the same house.

How does it work?

Rather than extracting air from the dwelling and creating a negative pressure, air is continuously
forced into the building creating a continuous pressure within the dwelling. With the onset of
new Part L making dwellings even tighter - if the air finds it difficult to escape, where does
the moisture go? Is interstitial condensation a future legacy? BRE Digest 369 covers this subject
in depth.
This system can be deemed more suitable for older properties where moisture is generated on a
daily basis and natural leakage occurs throughout the dwelling.
The system works on the principle of continuously introducing, in theory, much drier tempered air
from the loft, creating a positive pressure within the dwelling, which then dissipates through
openings around the building to provide a constant background change of air. The results shown
in IP12/00 show that tempered air is not always available and when it is available it is usually at a
higher relative humidity.
The performances of the system can also be affected by the type of dwelling, ie, the
construction type, the internal design, the level of airtightness, whether central heating has been
installed and if double-glazed windows are in place.
Where there is no loft, a wall mounted unit is used. This then brings cold air directly from
outside, with a lower humidity, into the property and forces the warmer, moisture-laden air, out of
the property.
Providing there is enough natural leakage within the building, this method will inevitably reduce
relative humidity, although adverse odours of ALL kinds will be forced throughout the dwelling
as the air finds the most convenient route to atmosphere.
This method has proved that in some cases it can be the answer to Local Authorities
condensation problems. The downside, however, is that by continuously introducing colder air
into the occupiers property, it is going to reduce the indoor temperature. There is also no extract
at source, so steam from cooking, showering, washing, plus toilet smells, will take much longer
to be removed from the property than single room extract or central extract systems. Rapid
extraction for culinary disasters is also ruled out with this system.

The Pros & Cons of Positive Pressure Ventilation


Easy to install and unobtrusive

Reasonably low running costs
Appears to work well in older, leakier properties
Single unit
Single wiring connection


Can be expensive
Suitable for certain property types only
No facility for rapid extraction of smells etc
No extract at source
Does not comply with requirements of the Building Regulations Part F1

Central Extract Ventilation

Continuous Balanced (supply and extract) Mechanical Ventilation and Continuous Mechanical
Extract Ventilation both comply with the alternative approach Paragraph 1.9D of Part F1 of The
Building Regulations when designed and installed to BRE Digest 398.

1. Continuous Balanced (supply and extract) Mechanical

Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR)
The damp, warm air is extracted from the wet rooms and passes through a duct system and on
its way to the outside passes over
a heat exchanger. Clean, fresh air is
drawn from the outside through
another duct system and passes
over the same heat exchanger,
taking heat from the extracted air
as it passes. This tempered air is
then input to the habitable rooms in
the dwelling. The system is
designed to run continuously and
provides a barely discernible,
positive airflow from dry areas to
wet areas throughout the dwelling.
They are provided with a boost
facility, for times when the kitchen
is being used for cooking and the bathroom for bathing etc. An acceptable rate of air change to
aim for when designing the system is 0.5 air changes per hour (ach).
Essentially, in order to install a system that will function to its maximum performance the building
should be as airtight as practicable for economic operation. This means that a building should
achieve a mean background air infiltration rate of no more than 0.2 ach. Currently this is hard to
achieve with many older properties despite the widespread upgrade to double glazing. However,
the effects of part L of the Building Regulations will improve the air-tightness of all new
dwellings, making this method more effective.
Initially, MVHR systems were intended to be employed as an energy conservation measure but,
because the UK climate is relatively mild, the cost-effectiveness of MVHR systems with respect
to energy savings is, in general, not encouraging.
In recent years, MVHR systems have been combined with warm air heating systems. This
allows the same duct system to be used for both heating and ventilating and may give the
opportunity to recover energy from the products of combustion from the heating source. In
addition, arrangements will have to be made to install transfer grilles to allow the passage of air
between rooms.
Although these systems are more complex than ordinary MVHR, design guidelines for ventilation
still generally apply.

The Pros & Cons of Central Extract Ventilation - MVHR


Effective continuous ventilation throughout the dwelling

Prevents problems rather than responding to them
Virtually silent operation
One unit/one supply
Only two breaches of external building fabric
Some recovery of running costs
Unobtrusive ceiling grilles (no boxes on walls)


Complex and expensive to install

Duct runs are difficult to route and effectively reduce room size
Seasonal effectiveness of heat recovery
UK climate reduces cost effectiveness

2. Continuous Mechanical Extract Ventilation (MEV)

An MEV system consists of the
extract components of an MVHR
system without the heat recovery
and is cheaper to buy and install.
The design criteria for air
movement is as per an MVHR
system but the inflow of
replacement air is achieved by the
installation of adjustable, trickle
ventilators in habitable rooms. A
further benefit of installing an MEV
system is that it has only one duct
penetrating the external fabric of
the dwelling, two for the MVHR as
it has both supply and intake.
Either unit can be installed
anywhere in the dwelling but
consideration should be given to
site away from bedrooms - all ducting in lofts or other unheated spaces must be insulated and
the MVHR requires a condensate drain.
Open flued appliances which draw some or all of its combustion air from the living space are
not recommended in dwellings with MEV or MVHR because the systems may interfere with
the operation of the appliance and combustion products may be drawn back into the
room. BS5440-3.
It may be in the interests of designers and architects to compare the material, installation and
running costs of MEV and MVHR systems in terms of payback.

The Pros & Cons of Central Extract Ventilation - MEV


Effective continuous ventilation throughout the dwelling

Prevents problems rather than waiting to respond to them
More cost effective than installing multiple fans
A single breach of the external building fabric
Unobtrusive ceiling grilles (no boxes on walls)
Virtually silent operation - discourages interference from occupier
Takes control away from occupier


Duct runs can be difficult to route and could reduce room sizes
Planning needs consideration
Can be perceived as being both noisy and expensive to run
Can be difficult to install in refurbs

Single Room Extract Fans

Single Room Extract fans comply with the requirement of Part F1 of The Building Regulations,
1.2C: Mechanical Extract Ventilation operated manually and/or automatically by sensor or
There are minimum extract rates set out for each room type and these are:

60 litres/second (30 l/s adjacent to hob)


30 litres/second

Bathroom (with or without WC)

15 litres/second

Sanitary Accommodation:

6 litres/second

(Only if no opening window)

In addition, 1.5 states that In kitchens, utility rooms, bathrooms and sanitary accommodation not
containing openable windows (i.e. internal rooms) the requirement will be met if: 1.5a
mechanical extract ventilation as rated in table 1 and the fan has 15 minutes overrun timer and
is either controlled automatically or manually.

The use of single room extract fans to comply with the requirements of Part F1 of the Building
Regulations is the most popular solution because of the flexibility and ease of installation
they offer.
The stale damp air is extracted, at the point of generation, to the outside of the building by using
axial fans for through the wall and short lengths of duct and centrifugal fans for longer lengths of
duct. We suggest that you ask the manufacturer to provide Third Party Verification of the fan
performances. It is replaced by clean air from the outside being drawn in through the background
ventilation requirements of the Building Regulations - the most popular method being trickle
ventilators placed in windows of every room.
The way that modern axial fans are manufactured, using ball
bearing motors and wing profile blades, means that they can run
near silent, an important consideration in a domestic environment
and again will deter the occupant from switching the fan off.
The fan size and extract route will depend on the room size and
its usage as shown in Document F1 of the Building Regulations.
However, although not stated in the Regulations it is
recommended that the system chosen provides an installed
performance to comply with the requirements. Many bodies are
lobbying for this to be included in the next revision of Part F.
Location is a critical factor as ventilation performance depends on the amount of fresh air drawn
in and distributed. Short circuiting of the airflow must be avoided.

Choice of operating methods

Manually by remote switch or pull-cord. The cheapest solution but not always effective in
controlling condensation because it relies upon the human factor, i.e. Cant be bothered to
switch it on.
Manually by remote switch or pull-cord, with 15 minute overrun timer. As above except the
timer is required to comply with specific requirements of the
Building Regulations. The Timer version can also be

Bad Installation

specified to ensure that moisture-laden air is expelled from

the dwelling after the occupant has left the room.
Automatic by PIR. Can be used in either of the
two above situations. Eliminates need for
occupier intervention.
Automatic by Humidistat sensor. This is the option which
has historically been most commonly used by Local
Authorities and Housing Associations in their attempts to
solve condensation problems.
They are generally operated by an electronic humidity
sensor and switch on the fan when it senses that the
humidity level rises above 65/70%RH (at 20C) and switch
off when it falls.

Good Installation

This type is prone to hunting, which is switching on and off repeatedly or running
unnecessarily, when temperatures drop, especially at night-time and can lead to the occupant
switching them off. Some have what is described as night time set-back, which simply lowers
the switch on point as temperature drops so that it will not switch on. They can also be with or
without overrun timer.
There are now technologically superior sensors available which are operated by a
microprocessor. This Microprocessor Humidity Control
(MHC) system takes a reading of the atmosphere every
4 seconds monitoring both temperature and humidity
and builds up a record over a 48 hour rolling period. This
allows it to adjust the switch-on point to suit the internal
conditions of the dwelling. It also means that if new
occupiers move in with a different lifestyle it will adjust
to suit that lifestyle, i.e. new occupier can afford the
heating or they have a bigger family generating more
moisture. This eliminates the need for regular visits from
service engineers to service these fans.
BRE Information Paper IP 5/99 Humidistat Controlled Extract Fans; Performance in Dwellings,
was jointly funded by leading fan manufacturers and shows the conclusions of tests in 15
inhabited dwellings. It was noted that despite full installation instructions being provided there
were several examples of fans being sited in less than ideal locations - showing that despite the
best efforts of specifiers and manufacturers it can still go wrong. Results showed that fans ran
for less time than expected but analysis showed this to be the correct operation of the fans.
Recorded running times per week averaged across all the houses were 1.9 hours per week in
kitchens and 2.5 hours per week in bathrooms. This contrasts with some 50 hours per week
reported for older type humidistats during the 1980s.

Continuous Running Fans

The most common three complaints that Local Authorities and
other landlords receive regarding fans are:
1. Nuisance running
2. Noise
3. Power consumption
Centrifugal Fans which run continuously on trickle and consume between 4 and 8 watts
eradicate these problems. Because the centrifugal fan is on trickle, it is silent running, so is
virtually undetectable to the human ear. The benefit of this is twofold; No sound pollution and
therefore no occupier interference by means of tampering with the units to prevent them
working. As they are designed to run continuously, they are fitted with long life motors,
guaranteed to run for at least 30,000 hours. If the occupier needs rapid ventilation, the two-speed
motor can be switched to boost using a remote switch. Continuous running fans are becoming
increasingly popular due to the fact that they are so reliable, economic and are virtually
guaranteed to control condensation.

The system does not wait for the pollutants to build up. From all perspectives it makes more
sense to prevent a problem rather than reacting to one, hence the credentials of continuous
running units..... Prevention is cheaper than cure.

The Pros and Cons of Single Room Extract Fans


Can usually be installed close to the moisture source

Can be specified to suit the needs of each room
Wide choice of controls and operational methods to suit all needs
Humidistat models run only when necessary
Easy to install
Continuous running fans are whisper quiet and economical and have manual
boost facility


Need to educate the occupier as to its use and purpose

Can be perceived as being both noisy and expensive to run
Mis-installation negates even the best of specifications
Perceived nuisance running possible

References and further reading:

The Building Regulations 1991, Approved Document F, Part F1 Means of ventilation

(ISBN 0 11 752932 X)

BS5925:1991, British Standard, Code of practice for ventilation principles and designing for
natural ventilation

BRE Digest 297, Revised 1990, Surface condensation and mould growth in traditionally-built
dwellings (ISBN 0 85125 341 5)

BS5250:1991, British Standard, Code of practice for the control of condensation in buildings
BS7671:2001, British Standard, Requirements for electrical installations (Blue Cover)
BRE Information Paper IP 13/94, July 1994, Passive stack ventilation systems: design
and installation

BRE Information Paper IP12/00, April 2000, Positive input ventilation in dwellings
BRE Digest 369, February 1992, Interstitial condensation and fabric degradation
(ISBN 0 85125 519 1)

BRE Digest 398, September 1994, Continuous mechanical ventilation in dwellings: design,
installation and operation (ISBN 0 85125 641 4)

BRE Information Paper IP 5/99, October 1999, Humidistat-controlled extract fans:

performance in dwellings (ISBN 1 86081 329 1)

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