Vault Doors: Ventilation/Air Quality in Vault rooms

Buyers of vault doors frequently ask what they should do for ventilation inside their vault room.  Ultimately, that should be decided by the builder and HVAC contractor.  I am not an expert on this, but here are basic guidelines from my perspective, geared toward starting the thought process:

  • Plan for ventilation issues in advance of building.  These issues are more difficult for a vault room than for inside a gun safe.
  • A dehumidifier should be run inside the vault room for at least a year or two following construction. I am told that concrete gives off moisture for at least a year as it cures.
  • Long term it is best to run a dehumidifier in the vault room to protect your guns from rust unless you are absolutely certain that the HVAC system provides very good airflow and that it keeps humidity low. It would be ideal to put in some type of humidity monitoring device.
  • If there is no ventilation in the room, it will be stuffy, maybe smelly, and you may develop a mildew problem.
  • It is best to have heat and AC ducted into the room (rather than rely only on passive vents) to force air exchange.  Addition of a passive vent out will make for better air flow.
  • A motorized vent like in the bathroom, to outside the house, connected to a timer, is another way to achieve ventilation.
  • If you plan to work on guns in your vault room – clean them, blue them, etc. – it is absolutely necessary to have good airflow to prevent buildup of dangerous chemical fumes. Install a fan that blows out through the vault door, or through a wall vent to the outside of the home. Wire the fan directly to the light switch so you don’t forget to turn it on.
  • You will need extra ventilation if you are lucky enough to have an underground shooting range, or if you are setting up a “man cave” where you and your friends will watch TV, play cards, drink, smoke, etc.
  • Temperature and humidity requirements may be different for vault rooms which are intended for wine collections, stamp collections, sports memorabilia, etc.  Check with experts in your field of collecting.

OK, so if you need good ventilation in there, how do you keep out heat and smoke in case of fire?  Next post . . .