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Do I Need a Bathroom Fan?

Nov 06, 2017



Bathroom Exhaust Fans

Bathroom exhaust fans are nothing new. You may use them all of the time. In fact, you probably never even think about bathroom fans unless you don’t have one — and then you think about how nice it would be to have a bathroom fan two or three times a day. 
Exhaust fans are more than just a tool that makes your bathroom more tolerable after your Uncle Larry pays a long visit. They help keep your home safe and reduce the hassle of otherwise preventable bathroom maintenance.


Am I required to install bathroom fans in my home?

Every city has different rules and regulations when it comes to housing codes. If you live in Northern Virginia, the specifications in Alexandria may be different than what’s required in Warrenton. 
So you may be asking yourself: Do I need a bathroom fan? The answer is generally yes. Residential bathroom ventilation is almost always required by any municipality, whether that ventilation is coming from a window or a fan. Ask a Warrenton electrician, or any local electrician, for more info about specifics in your town.
A window used for bathroom ventilation must be at least three square feet and should be able to open at least halfway. Installing a local exhaust fan will relieve that need to crack a window, however. Your bathroom fan must be able to pull out at least 50 cubic feet of air per minute (CFM), as per ASHRAE guidelines.
The Home Ventilating Institute makes even more aggressive recommendations, noting that “for bathrooms up to 100 square feet in area, (we recommend) that an exhaust fan provide 1 CFM per square foot (approximately eight air changes per hour) to properly ventilate the bathroom…(and) for bathrooms above 100 square feet in area, HVI recommends a ventilation rate based on the number and type of fixtures present.” 
Tubs, showers, and bathtubs each should account for 50 CFM apiece in these larger bathrooms, and a jetted tub would require 100 CFM. The Institute suggests installing several 50 CFM fans in the bathroom in this scenario, or a single, powerful fan that covers all of the CFM needs. 

The Benefits of Bathroom Fans

Ask any local electrician if you should have a bathroom fan, they’re going to agree: you do. Bathroom exhaust fans have a lot of benefits. The main purposes of your fan are to:
  • Controls odors. One of your exhaust fan’s main functions is odor control. You know what we’re talking about. Those unpleasant smells may also contain trace levels of bacteria, which is just one more reason to get that stink the heck out of your house as soon as possible — especially if you’re expecting company.
  • Improves safety. If you’re like most homeowners, you use cleaners with chemicals to scrub your bathroom. These chemicals can be caustic and cause health issues if inhaled. Some popular cleaners that we take for granted are actually banned in other countries. Think about what you’re using in your home! In the meantime, fans can help sweep away those nasty fumes.
  • Reduces humidity. Without a fan, humidity builds up in a bathroom. That sauna effect you get when you crank up the hot water in the shower may be nice for a few minutes, but without a ventilation fan, it’s ruining your bathroom. Humidity creates the environment that mold and mildew need to thrive, and these unpleasant substances not only look terrible (do you want a moldy house?) but can cause serious health problems for you, your family and even your pets. 
Humidity can damage your walls and your ceiling. That’s why it’s crucial to have an exhaust system to prevent this from happening.


What will happen if I don’t have a bathroom fan?

Codes require bathroom fans for a reason. Fans pull moisture out of a small space, preventing it from condensing on walls or in the ceiling. 
Don’t have a bathroom fan? Better keep that door open while you’re cleaning up, or else your bathroom will deal with these symptoms of humidity-related stress:
  • Sweaty windows. Ever get out of a shower to find sweaty windows and mirrors? That’s condensation from the shower producing warm moisture. Condensation forms when warm, moist air comes in contact with cooler, dry air.
  • Peeling wallpaper. Not only will that high concentration of water vapor make your windows wet, but it will stick to your bathroom walls. This can make your wallpaper peel, your paint crack or even start to break down your walls. 
  • Mold-covered walls. Water vapor creates a welcoming environment for mold and mildew to prosper. If you have a poorly ventilated bathroom ceiling, that moisture will accumulate over time — turning your space moldy, weakening joists and ruining rafters.
  • Musty odor. Those unpleasant bathroom smells aren’t only coming from the toilet (or Uncle Larry). All of this built-up condensation can produce a funky, unmistakably musty odor.

How to Properly Install a Bathroom Fan

If you’re going to DIY bathroom exhaust fan installation, good luck: it’s going to involve some heavy-duty tools and a lot of grunt work. You’re going to have to literally cut a hole in your roof, among other tasks, and you’ll be responsible for the wiring. We’re not saying you can’t do it, but it’s not really a job recommended for anyone except an expert.
Doing it anyway? You can find how-to info online. Make sure you place the fan at the highest point in the ceiling. It should also be close to the shower, since it’s the biggest and most obvious source of water vapor in the bathroom. In fact, if you follow the HVI guidelines we listed earlier in this post, you may have to repeat the process a few times. 
Not sure how to properly install a bathroom fan? That’s fine! Our own five-star technicians spend years mastering their craft. You shouldn’t expect to pick it up from an online tutorial. Contact a Warrenton electrician for professional help, or find the expert nearest to you. 

Make sure that you're getting the most out of your bathroom. If you need a bathroom fan installed or your current bathroom fan cleaned, fixed or replaced, contact CroppMetcalfe at 1-877-740-6657 or schedule service online now. We’re happy to help.




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