A Brief History of Home VentilationHumans learned that their dwellings needed ventilation millennia ago, when they began using open fires for heating their abodes. Nowadays, home ventilation requirements are part of our Indianapolis building code, but this is a relatively recent development. Our modern understanding of the quantity of fresh air needed to replace stale indoor air took centuries of trial, error and experimentation.

Here’s a historical look at how home ventilation has evolved from natural to mechanical methods:

17th Century

Way back in 1631, King Charles I learned that heating-related indoor air pollution was causing health problems for his subjects. He issued a decree that English homes must have at least 10-foot ceilings, and that windows be taller than wide for better natural ventilation.

Early 19th Century

When Britain’s Houses of Parliament were rebuilt in 1835, a natural ventilation system was incorporated. Outside air came into a heating chamber and moved across steam pipes before flowing through a duct system.

Late 19th Century

In 1893, American doctor J. Billings made a recommendation that buildings have at least 30 cfm of ventilation per occupant, but 60 cfm was better. The minimum recommendation was adopted by the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASHVE) in 1895. This volume of airflow was only possible using mechanical ventilation, and thanks to recent advancements in electric power.

20th Century

Massachusetts put the 30 cfm per occupant rate of ventilation into law in 1914. By 1925, the rate had been adopted by 22 states. This was also the year ASHRE published the first code listing minimum requirements for building ventilation and heating.

21st Century

Today, there are a number of effective mechanical ventilation options for homes and buildings, including:

  • Exhaust fans to remove humid air from kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Whole-house fans that pull household air up into the attic where it’s expelled through eave or roof vents.
  • Supply ventilators that add outdoor air into the HVAC system’s return ductwork.
  • Balanced whole-house ventilation systems with self-contained intake and exhaust ducts.

To learn about home ventilation options to improve your indoor air quality, contact us at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).