Good Questions: What is This Thing in My Closet?

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Hello AT,

I found this vent(?) in the small coat closet of my apartment. There is some kind of paper on the inside - perhaps a previous tenant did that. The vent is about eye level to me, a little more that 5 feet. It measures about 12" x 16".

The building is 40+ years old. Any idea what it's for?

Thanks, Patty

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Dear Patty,

We've seen these before, but never wondered long enough to figure it out. Older buildings have all kinds of venting that were far more "manual" than today's bathroom fans and AC air grates. Many relied on the height of the building to exchange air through the fall of cool air and rise of hot air.

That said, a vent into a coat closet doesn't make much sense to us. It is possible that there is simply wiring for a doorbell or something running behind your closet and the "vent" may have been applied later to cover up a repair hole. With old buildings, you never know.

We'll throw this out to the crowd, but why don't you open it up and tell us what you see?

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.