A common mode of warming is by heated air from a furnace. The chief objection to this is the loss of moisture and of all radiated heat, and the consequent necessity of breathing air which is debilitating, both from its heat and also from being usually deprived of the requisite moisture provided by the Creator in all outdoor air. Another objection is the fact that it is important to health to preserve an equal circulation of the blood, and the greatest impediment to this is a mode of heating which keeps the head in warmer air than the feet. This is especially deleterious in an age and country where active brains are constantly drawing blood from the extremities to the head. All furnace-heated rooms have coldest air at the feet, and warmest around the head.
What follows illustrates the principles on which several modes of ventilation are practiced.
It is the common property of both air and water to expand, become lighter and rise, just in proportion as they are heated; and therefore it is the invariable law that cool air sinks, thus replacing the warmer air below. Thus, whenever cool air enters a warm room, it sinks downward and takes the place of an equal amount of the warmer air, which is constantly tending upward and outward. This principle of all fluids is illustrated by the following experiment:
Take a glass jar about a foot high and three inches in diameter, and with a wire to aid in placing it aright, sink a small bit of lighted candle so as to stand in the centre at the bottom. (Fig. 34.) The candle will heat the air of the jar, which will rise a little on one side, while the colder air without will begin falling on the other side. These two currents will so conflict as finally to cease, and then the candle, having no supply of oxygen from fresh air, will begin to go out. Insert a bit of stiff paper so as to divide the mouth of the jar, and instantly the cold and warm air are not in conflict as before, because a current is formed each side of the paper; the cold air descending on one side and the warm air ascending the other side, as indicated by the arrows. As long as the paper remains, the candle will burn, and as soon as it is removed, it will begin to go out, and can be restored by again inserting the paper. This illustrates the mode by which coal-mines are ventilated when filled with carbonic acid. A shaft divided into two passages, (Figure 35,) is let down into the mine, where the air is warmer than the outside air. Immediately the colder air outside presses down into the mine, through the passage which is highest, being admitted by the escape of an equal quantity of the warmer air, which rises through the lower passage of the shaft, this being the first available opening for it to rise through. A current is thus created, which continues as long as the inside air is warmer than that without the mine, and no longer. Sometimes a fire is kindled in the mine, in order to continue or increase the warmth, and consequent upward current of its air.
It is on this plan that many school-houses and manufactories have been ventilated. Its grand defect is, that it fails altogether when the air outside the house is at the same temperature as that within. This illustrates one of the cases where a "wise woman that buildeth her house" is greatly needed. For, owing to the ignorance of architects, house-builders, and men in general, they have been building school-houses, dwelling-houses, churches, and colleges, with the most absurd and senseless contrivances for ventilation, and all from not applying this principle of science. On this point, Professor Brewer, of the Scientific School of Yale College, writes thus:
"I have been in public buildings, (I have one in mind now, filled with dormitories,) which cost half a million, where they attempted to ventilate every room by a single flue, long and narrow, built into partition walls, and extending up into the capacious garret of the fifth story. Every room in the building had one such flue, with an opening into it at the floor and at the ceiling. It is needless to say that the whole concern was entirely useless. Had these flues been of proper proportions, and properly divided, the desired ventilation would have been secured." And this piece of ignorant folly was perpetrated in the midst of learned professors, teaching the laws of fluids and the laws of health!
In a cold climate and wintry weather, the grand impediment to ventilating rooms by opening doors or windows is the dangerous currents thus produced, which are so injurious to the delicate ones that for their sake it can not be done. Then, also, as a matter of economy, the poor can not afford to practice a method which carries off the heat generated by their stinted store of fuel. Even in a warm season and climate, there are frequent periods when the air without is damp and chilly, and yet at nearly the same temperature as that in the house. At such times even the opening of windows often has little effect in emptying a room of vitiated air.
The most successful mode of ventilating a house is by creating a current of warm air in a flue, into which an opening is made at both the top and the bottom of a room, to carry off the impure air, while a similar opening to admit outside air is made at the opposite side of the room. This is the mode employed in chemical laboratories for removing smells and injurious gases.
These statements give some idea of the evils to be remedied. But the most difficult point is how to secure the remedy; for often the attempt to secure pure air by one class of persons brings chills, colds, and disease on another class, from mere ignorance or mismanagement.
To illustrate this, it must be borne in mind that those who live in warm, close, and unventilated rooms are much more liable to take cold from exposure to draughts and cold air than those of vigorous vitality accustomed to breathe pure air.