Designers of buildings, automobiles, electronics, appliances and other systems must consider the use of ventilation devices. They can consist of things as simple as narrow slots in metal or as complicated as fans with temperature sensors and ducts. Ventilation offers both advantages and disadvantages. Whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks or vice versa depends on the type of building or equipment and the importance of ventilation to its existence.
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One of the major advantages of ventilation is that it prevents internal temperatures from becoming too high. In buildings, ventilation often releases warm air and allows cooler air to enter. Vents on the outside of devices like television sets and computers allow heat to escape so that it does not build up inside the plastic or metal housing. Overheating in a computer may lead to permanent damage, according to America Online.
However, ventilation proves undesirable in equipment designed to reach high internal temperatures, such as baking ovens. It can also let warm air escape in the winter and decrease the intended effects of air conditioning by allowing hotter air to enter a building.
Windows, vents and fans all cost money to install and maintain. Although this consideration shouldn't prevent anyone from adequately ventilating a building or piece of equipment, it's important to consider less costly alternatives to extra ventilation. For example, the Consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that it often proves less expensive to eliminate causes of poor air quality than to boost ventilation.
Another of ventilation's advantages is that it helps undesirable smells and fumes to escape. For example, opening windows while painting or using a hot glue gun will prevent some discomfort and potential health effects. It can also rid buildings of excess moisture, which may create mildew and cause other damage. Ventilation proves especially valuable for industrial workers such as refinery and manufacturing personnel, according to the Encarta Encyclopedia. The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration warns that excessive indoor pollutants can result in various irritations, headaches, fatigue, asthma and even cancer.
However, ventilation may also enable foul outdoor smells to enter a building or automobile, especially if the vent uses a fan that blows inward or has no fan.
One of the disadvantages of ventilation is that it can provide additional avenues for intruders to enter a building or piece of equipment. Criminals can break in through windows, particularly when only a window screen remains shut.
Insects and small animals often find their way into homes, automobiles and even electronic equipment through windows, fans or vents. Rodents may enter via small openings in or around dryer and attic vents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Homeowners can take measures to limit these problems, such as sealing the edges of ventilation.
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- "Encarta Encyclopedia Standard"; Heating, Ventilation; Microsoft; 2004
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- Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Indoor Air Quality
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Seal Up!
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality