Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray
Ventilation in a house or office building is essential to the well-being of those who live and work in it. Good ventilation also prevents the accumulation of moisture in the building structure and protects the wood and organic materials from developing mold.
In a naturally ventilated building, warm air rises from the floor to the roof. Floor mounted ventilation allows hot air to rise, whereas ceiling vents would be ideal for injecting cold air into a room. Cold air will settle to the bottom before being dispersed around the room.
Sick-Building-Syndrome is a condition caused by harmful bacteria living in the ventilation ducting due to poor maintenance of the system. Stale air can cause unpleasant smells and mask noxious gasses.
The best place to install ventilation openings in a house is mainly dependent on several factors:
- Design of the basement, living areas, and roof
- Design of the Heating Cooling And Ventilation System (HVAC)
- Flooring and ceiling material finishes selected
- Aesthetic appeal of the ventilation openings
The most important is that the vents help provide a healthy and comfortable living space and aesthetically blend into the design of the interior and exterior of the building. Let’s look at the pros and cons of both options.
The Pros And Cons Of Floor And Ceiling Vents
Modern-day architects try to design houses that are energy efficient and will create healthy living spaces without the need for energy-intensive solutions. In older homes, the house’s basement was where the HVAC system was located.
The trend is to design houses that use solar energy to power the HVAC system. These systems are typically installed in the ceiling cavity of the home with ducting to the rooms below.
Architects will use the natural properties of hot and cold air to rise and fall when designing the house ventilation system. They may thus propose a combination of floor and ceiling-mounted vents to achieve the best ventilation.
Ceiling Mounted Vents Pros & Cons:
- Ideal for cooling vent inlets
- Does not take up any floor space and is not affected by furniture placement
- Aesthetically more pleasing than floor vents and can be hidden in suspended ceilings
- More expensive to install during ceiling and roof installation
- Requires hot air to be pumped into the room with a blower
- Turbulent warm air forced into the room may cause static in the air and is not comfortable
- Heat is lost due to long ducting from the basement to the ceiling crawl space
- Warm air has to be forced down to floor level as it would naturally tend to rise upwards
Floor Mounted Vents Pros & Cons:
- Ideal for warm air inlets
- No pumping of the warm air is required due to natural convection
- Warm air will fill the rooms from the floors upwards and not require additional circulation
- Easy to hide into the floor design and can be incorporated into hardwood or composite floors
- Leaves the ceiling open to a high ceiling design creating more space in the room
- Cheaper to install during framing construction
- Not suitable for cooling as the cold air is heavier and tends to lie on the floor
- It could be noisy if the furnace fan starts up
- Not many aesthetically pleasing floor-mounted vent options are available
- Metal floor vents can be unsightly if not correctly recessed into the floor
The answer to excellent ventilation in your new home is likely to be a combination of floor vents and ceiling vents. The flow of air during summer and winter needs to be different to create the most comfortable and healthy climate inside the house.
In summer, the house needs to draw in cool fresh air from ground level and then condition this air before pumping the cooled air into the house via ceiling-mounted ventilation ports. The cool air will naturally settle towards the floor of the room.
Pumping cold air into the rooms via floor-mounted vents will require additional blower pressure to circulate the cold air to the upper air levels in each room.
During winter, the hot air generated by the furnace will be gently pumped and rise through natural convection from the basement through the floor-mounted vents. Minimal pumping is required as the natural convection will draw the warm air upwards.
What Is a Better Choice for You?
The ventilation of a residence or office building is critical to the comfort and wellbeing of those destined to live and work in them. An integrated ventilation system also helps the building “breathe” out the toxic gasses and stale air that build up in enclosed spaces.
Most modern building materials contain chemicals to help bind them and make them waterproof, ultraviolet resistant, ozone resistant, and fire retardant. These chemicals leach out of the materials in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), mainly in gaseous form.
The aesthetics of your house is an essential aspect and will affect most of your decisions on the type and finish of materials to buy. Ventilation ports are no exception. You will need vents to allow fresh cool air into the basement and draw this fresh air into the living rooms, through the ceilings, and out of the vents at the top of the roof.
Ensure that the ventilation systems designed for your house are correctly designed and integrated into the heating and cooling systems. Plan the layout for each room in advance to best place floor-mounted vents.
The venting of warm moist air through the ceiling and the roof is essential to ensure that the attic remains cool and dry and does not support the spread of biological agents.
We have learned many of the lessons regarding poor ventilation the hard way. Despite technological advances, we still have instances of people dying in their homes due to gas leaks or the buildup of carbon monoxide.
Incorporate both floor and ceiling mounted ventilation in your house design and ensure that you plan for all the potential hazards of poor ventilation. There are many creative and aesthetically pleasing solutions to integrating the vents in your floors and ceilings.