Is this some kind of ventilation?


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Old 01-10-16, 05:31 PM
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Is this some kind of ventilation?

I recently bought this house, on the back of the house there is two window like structures. I was wondering if this was some kind of ventilation? The house is old, was built in 1910. House is located in Long Island NY

The reason why i ask is there is a very strong draft on the inside of the house where these 2 ventilation are placed. what can i do to prevent the draft? can i seal this from the outside in the winter? do i really need this in the first place? the next time i replace my siding can i just cover this?

I am a new home owner and as you can tell, dont know too much about houses.
 
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Old 01-10-16, 05:36 PM
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Hard telling without you giving us some sort if clue as to what is behind them. What room is immediately behind?
 
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Old 01-10-16, 05:48 PM
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It looks like a vent but I wouldn't seal it until you determine it's function. Based on the 1910 date, I have two questions. Are you close to the Queens line, South Shore & did the house originally have a coal furnace? If you walk around the house you might see where the chute was closed.
 
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Old 01-10-16, 06:42 PM
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yes i am right on the border of queens and long island but not near south shore, more towards bayside.

How big this coal chute would have been? My basement is not finished, I do see something closed with a piece of wood on my basement ceiling on both sides (east and west, the pic is east) of the house. The size of the wood piece/patch is probably 5 by 5 inches, may be small for a chute. Also this closed chute is not exactly aligned where the ventilation is but its close (2 feet apart). BTW What is the purpose of the chute? for a coal furnace wouldn't the ventilation be normally connected to the chimney? i ask because the fire place/chimney is located on a different side of the house (chimney is on south side)

Xsleeper, there is nothing unusual that stands out behind this. On the first floor its living room and on the second floor, its right by the stairs.
 
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Old 01-11-16, 06:51 AM
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The chute would have been in the wall & the opening would have been about 2'x1'. I should have also asked if you have forced air heating. The vents could be the inlets. If it's not forced air, then you maybe able to seal them permanently.
 
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Old 01-11-16, 08:00 AM
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Coal Chute

A coal chute was installed on the outside wall of the basement to allow coal to be delivered into the basement to fuel the coal furnace. Do not know if this is your situation.
 
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Old 01-11-16, 06:33 PM
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Could there be or could there Have been a a pantry in line with these vents. A pantry could have been cooled by convection.
 
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Old 01-11-16, 08:12 PM
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tightcoat, you may be onto something here. This ventilation is right between the kitchen and the living room and guess what there is a pantry where the living room meets the kitchen. I think you nailed it.

Sorry Xsleeper and pulpo for not bringing up pantry earlier in the thread. i had no idea that ventilation was needed for pantry so it never occurred to me. i just googled and found that pantry ventilation is strongly recommended to avoid musty odor, etc.

Would you know why its on both floors though? on the second floor there is no kitchen or pantry yet there is a vent.

Also, going back to my original problem of strong cold draft, can i temporarily seal this from the outside for the winter? i think this will make a significant difference in my heating bill.
 
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Old 01-11-16, 08:45 PM
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Would you know why its on both floors though?
Guess: Warm air in the pantry travels up and out the second floor vent drawing cool air in through the first floor vent.
 
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Old 01-12-16, 01:30 AM
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I never would have guessed or known about the pantry. Do any other houses in the neighborhood have those vents? A friend of mine has a house that looks just like yours with the same blue cedar shakes.

Anyway, if the vents are used to cool the pantry, I imagine that you could close them for the winter. I don't see a problem.
 
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Old 01-12-16, 05:25 AM
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It is not on both floors. The top one is even with the top of your windows, so it's just below the first floor ceiling.
 
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Old 01-12-16, 08:43 AM
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endeavour,

What do these vents look like on the inside? If you can see them could you take a picture please?

Last year my son bought a house in Minneapolis about the same age and although the house is nice and warm his pantry is freezing cold where they have to hang a blanket over the entry.

Although it has newer vinyl siding I'd bet the farm they put the siding over the vents and didn't seal and insulate them properly.

Thanks
 
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Old 01-12-16, 07:32 PM
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Baldwin, can't see the vent from the inside. The pantry's backboard is blocking it. Thanks for your input though, now I am certain the vent is for pantry.

Xsleeper, you are right, the second vent is just below the first floor ceiling, good eye.

Pulpo, I haven't really seen this type of vent in any of the houses in my neighborhood. While a lot of the houses are old but its likely that they may have covered the vent under new siding by now, as Baldwin pointed out.

From this discussion, it looks like its safe to cover the vent from the outside for the winter. Any suggestions on the best way to do this while maintaining the appearance of the house? The approx size of the vent (from outside) is 3' x 2'.
 
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Old 01-13-16, 03:01 AM
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You could cut plywood to fit, prime/paint it and then screw it over the opening, just make sure the top of the plywood is under the overhang of the top piece.
 
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Old 01-13-16, 04:04 PM
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would plywood alone be enough? should I use insulation? if so, what kind? Baldwin made a good point below, even after covering the vent from the outside it was still cold inside near the pantry area.
 
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Old 01-13-16, 04:35 PM
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The questions maybe I missed were why do you need the vents? Why not remove them? Do you have central A/C?
 
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Old 01-14-16, 02:27 AM
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would plywood alone be enough? should I use insulation?
Insulation would always be better but unless you remove the vent and insulate it would be difficult to get any degree of insulation and still have something that looks ok and doesn't involve a lot of work. Covering the vent with plywood will stop the air flow.
 
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Old 01-14-16, 06:50 AM
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Got it. I have central ac which should keep the pantry cool but I am not sure if the pantry will also be ventilated if I were to remove the vents. However, I think the benefits of removing the vent outweighs the advantages of keeping it.

So my question is, once I remove the vent, I will be staring at a 3' x 2' hole, right? How do I insulate and cover that hole?
 
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Old 01-14-16, 08:05 AM
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You'd add framing if/where needed, insulate and sheet over the hole, cover with tar paper and install new shingles.
 
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Old 01-14-16, 08:36 AM
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To do it right you would probably need to open up the entire wall if you want to get it insulated well. Just plugging the holes is kind of a halfhearted attempt at sealing it up.
 
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Old 01-15-16, 01:35 PM
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Thank you all. This was very helpful.

Pulpo, I am going to PM you. Have a question that is NY specific, you might know the answer.
 
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Old 01-15-16, 02:54 PM
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It is not necessary for a pantry to be ventilated. This is an old way of taking advantage of natural convection for cooling. It probably worked about nine months of the year. Not as good as a refrigerator but at least cooler. I vote for removal unless you can think of some other reason to keep the holes.
 
 

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