Humidity is not only uncomfortable, it is damaging to your home, particularly indoors where it can lead to peeling paint, warped wooden doors and floors, and the potential for mold and mildew. Nowhere is the humidity problem more evident than in bathrooms, where bathtubs, showers, sinks and toilets all contribute to the release of moisture into the air.
Fortunately there is an easy solution within reach of most do-it-yourselfers: installing a bathroom ventilation fan. Bathroom fans are designed to promote positive air movement, bringing fresh air into the bathroom and at the same time, removing steam, humidity and even foul odors from the area. In short, improving the overall air quality in your home.
“Since the bathroom is the most humid room in a house, having a ventilation fan is a no-brainer,” says Daniel O'Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com. Ventilation fans are designed to solve air movement problems and improve indoor air quality in homes and buildings. In many cases they are required by local building codes. “In the bathroom, a ventilation fan can quickly and efficiently whisk away odors, along with steam and moisture to reduce the potential for mold and mildew,” he adds.
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Bathroom fans come in three basic types: ceiling-mounted, which are installed directly into the ceiling and ventilate into the attic or through the roof; inline/remote fans, where the actual fan unit is located in the attic and connected to a ceiling grille in the bathroom with ductwork, venting to the outside through the attic roof or wall; and wall-mounted/external fans, which are mounted on the exterior wall of the house.
Inline/remote fans offer several advantages over ceiling- and wall-mounted fans: because the fan unit is located in a different location, inline fans tend to be substantially quieter. Also, one inline fan can be connected to several ducts and therefore can be used to ventilate multiple locations-a shower and a tub for instance-or even multiple bathrooms.
The main goal of bathroom ventilation is to change the air, and most experts say an efficient fan should produce eight complete air changes every hour. Therefore, the capacity of bathroom fans is rated in cubic feet per minute (CFM), indicating how much air a particular fan can move. According to the non-profit Home Ventilating Institute a good rule of thumb is to use 1 CFM per square foot of bathroom area: for example, typical 8-by-10 foot bathroom comprises 80 square feet and therefore needs a ventilation fan rated at 80 CFM.
For bathrooms larger than 100 square feet, the HVI recommends installing ventilation based on the number and type of bathroom fixtures: for example, showers, tubs and toilets all require a fan rated at 50 CFM, while a whirlpool tub requires a fan rated at 100 CFM. Therefore, if you have a large bathroom with a whirlpool tub, shower and toilet, your total ventilation needs adds up to 200 CFM.
Bathroom fans come in varied models and sizes, and typically are rated for continuous duty. Since many homeowners today are concerned with energy efficiency, there are numerous fans that are rated as part of the U.S. Energy Star program; Energy Star-compliant fans use approximately 20% less energy than standard models. Some bathroom fans also come with timers, humidity/moisture sensors, motion sensors that turn on when someone enters the room, heaters and decorative lighting kits.
Online retailer SupplyHouse.com has produced some helpful videos that can provide more information about how to choose the right product for your needs:
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