Air bricks, sometimes called air bricks or air vents, are special bricks containing holes that allow air to enter under the floor of buildings that have suspended floors. Cavity walls also need ventilation to allow airflow that will prevent moisture build up.
Traditionally air bricks were made of clay – a material similar to that used to manufacture bricks; later they were made from cast iron and now air bricks are made from plastic.
By having air circulating through air bricks into the cavity beneath floorboards cold or damp air does not remain in these spaces and the timbers used in joists and floorboards do not become damp and rot. In addition, the airflow created by installing air bricks provides ventilation for solid fuel fires and stoves and gas heaters.
Air bricks can help where central heating is employed: when central heating is turned off at night and the building cools the floorboards and joists become cooler than the moist air around them and water condenses on them. This can cause floorboards and joists to rot.
It is important that the holes in air bricks are not deliberately blocked or allowed to be blocked by leaves or soil. It is not unknown for people to block air bricks because they cause a draught to come up through gaps in the floorboards! Adding a conservatory to one wall of a house can result in air bricks on this wall to be blocked by the concrete slab on which the conservatory is built.
There is a potential downside to air bricks – the small holes in air bricks are large enough to allow mice (and other pests) to enter your home: mice can pass through a hole that a pencil can pass through!
If you baulk at the thought of using mouse traps, poison or glue traps there is a much more humane alternative that will stop mice from entering your home through air bricks: cover the air brick with wire mesh – do not use plastic mesh since mice will chew through it.
You can buy fine metal mesh and fix it over all your air bricks; alternatively there are ready-made air brick covers on the market that can be screwed or glued over air bricks.
These air brick covers will also prevent slugs, wasps and beetles from entering your home via air bricks – but be sure to cover every air brick, if you leave just one uncovered all manner of pests can still enter your home!
If you are building a new home you can choose to use air bricks with wire mesh covers already built into them so that there is no need to add air brick covers as an after-thought.
Purpose-built air brick covers are available with different coloured frames and make these mice-proof measures an attractive, as well as functional, addition to your home.
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