Ventus – A Ventilation Story

The fact that you are reading this blog probably means ventilation means exhaust fans and range hoods. You would not be wrong, but we are going to go a little deeper and look back through the ages at ventilation.
Let’s start with the word “ventilation”. It comes from the Latin word ventilatio which has its root in the word ventus, meaning wind. In the ventilation field we use terms such as exhaust and air movement which at its root is wind (moving air).

Next, we’ll trace back to the origins of ventilation devices. It might come as a surprise that it can be traced back to thousands of years BC. As humans began to bring fire into the houses/structures they built to either heat them or cook with, it quickly became evident that they had to get rid of the smoke created. The first form of ventilation was a chimney. Archeologists have found examples throughout the years of chimneys being used. The earliest is probably in China approximately 4000 BC. Other significant finds include Roman homes that had a hole in the roof to direct smoke. Thousands of years later we are still using this same technology. A little updated to the times, but in essences the same basic principle.

Another milestone in the history of ventilation was in the 17th century. King Charles I of England recognized that poor ventilation was causing health problems and he decreed that the ceilings in homes must be at least 10 feet high and that windows must be higher than they are wide to allow for ventilation.

Skipping ahead a few hundred years and we come to the 1920’s/1930’s where modern ventilation was created. While chimneys were okay, they were not as effective as they needed to be. The solution was to add a motor to the chimney and force the smoke up and out of the home. This was the first range hood. With most homes now having indoor bathrooms and especially showers, the need for ventilation increased even more and the same technology was now being used in the bathrooms to exhaust steam and odors.

From that first range hood in the early 1900’s we have seen a lot of advancements in the ventilation field. Technology has allowed exhaust fans and range hoods to become more energy efficient, quieter and more effective. Recently even more emphasis has been placed on indoor air quality. Ventilation is a key component of good indoor quality and the more we continue to learn, the more we are finding that a properly ventilated home is a much healthier home. I guess King Charles I did know what he was talking about hundreds of year ago.