Have you ever gotten out of the shower, dried off and just had to get out of the bathroom for a few minutes because it was so hot, humid and uncomfortable?
I mean, you can’t get dressed when you’re hot like that.
You know what could help minimize that problem? A powerful, bathroom exhaust fan. Powerful, but quiet, because if the fan is annoyingly loud, you won’t use it regularly.
Choosing the right fan for your bathroom is more important than you might think. Without an appropriately sized exhaust fan, not only can your bathroom be uncomfortably hot and humid, not to mention smelly, but over time, you risk causing moisture damage to your bathroom drywall and cabinetry, plus you increase your chances of developing mold and mildew on your shower walls, drywall and even on the wood framing beneath the drywall. Not good!
According to the Home Ventilating Institute, every home needs ventilation for protection against unhealthy indoor pollutants and excess moisture and heat. Let's go over a few quick tips this week that will help you choose powerful, but quiet bathroom exhaust fans.
Don’t just assume that your builder or HVAC sub will automatically choose a proper exhaust fan for your bathrooms. They may choose fans that meet the minimum building code requirements, but those fans are usually really loud and sometimes not strong enough to adequately exhaust stale, moist air.
And surprising, many regional building codes don’t require bathroom fans at all. Ventilation in bathrooms is always required, but not exhaust fans.
In some areas of the country, if your bathroom has a window, an exhaust fan is not required by code. But, for maximum comfort and protection of your house and family, you should insist on exhaust fans in every bathroom in your new house, whether it has a window or not.
Have your fans installed so they vent air to the outdoors, not into your attic. Venting air into an attic only transfers the problems that your would have in the bathroom to the attic. Warm, humid air in the attic can cause moisture damage there too.
Most bathroom fans are installed in the ceiling, but some models can also be installed in a wall. Typically the exhaust fans should be located over, or near the shower or tub, and in areas with an enclosed toilet, like water closet or powder room.
The Home Ventilating Institute (HVI), is the organization that certifies the performance and efficiency of home ventilation products. Bathroom exhaust fans are sized and rated by their ability to move air in cubic feet per minute, or CFMs. So the more CFMs a fan has the more powerful it is.
The Home Ventilating Institute has recommends the following:
For bathrooms 100 square feet or less, choose 1 CFM per square foot. So, if you have a 10 foot by 10 foot bathroom (that’s a 100 square feet bathroom), you should choose an exhaust fan that can exhaust 100 CFMs. One CFM for every square foot for smaller bathrooms.
For bathrooms larger than 100 square feet, you need 50 CFMs for every major bathroom fixture. Toilets, tubs, showers, and shower tub combos count as major fixtures. So, for a large bathroom with 3 major fixtures (a toilet, a shower stall, and a separate tub), you’d need one fan that can exhaust 150 CFMS, or you can choose several fans that add up to 150 CFMs.
You should also strongly consider paying extra for fans with humidity and/or motion sensors, and a timer. That way you don’t have to worry about turning the fan on and off when you enter and leave the bathroom. The Home Ventilating Institute recommends that the fan be left on for 20 minutes after you leave the bathroom.
A humidity sensor monitors your bathroom’s moisture levels and turns the fan on when humidity rises above a certain level. It then turns the fan off when humidity returns to normal.
And as you probably know, a motion sensor detects when someone enters the bathroom and the sensor turns the fan on. Fans with multiple functions usually include separate controls for each function, so you can use the different functions together or separately. You’ll also receive a wall switch that can control all of these functions.
You might not think of energy efficiency when it comes to bathroom exhaust fans, but it’s important. Think about it, your bathroom fan will be used everyday, and usually, several times a day. So, look for an Energy Star fan.
Energy Star bathroom fans use about 70%, less energy than conventional non-Energy Star models, and sometimes more. And here’s a bonus. not only will Energy Star fans cost you less to run, but they must also meet qualifications for low sound emission, so they are quieter than the average, run-of-the-mill fan.
Speaking of quiet fans, here’s one more thing. Choose them, even if they costs more.
Our bathrooms are like retreats, for a lot of us. We want our bathrooms designed to be zen and spa-like. And bathroom fans that sounds like jet engines can really take away from the peaceful ambience.
Bath fan sound is rated in sones. Ideally, You want a model with a sone rating of 2 or less. And never, I repeat, never, go for a fan with 5 or more sones. That's jet engine territory :-/
So those are my bathroom exhaust fan quick tips;
1. Put an exhaust fan in every bathroom, whether it’s required by code or not.
2. Make sure the fan exhausts air to the outdoors and not your attic.
3. For bathrooms 100 square feet or less, choose 1 CFM per square foot, or for bathrooms greater than 100 square feet, choose 50 CFMs per major bathroom fixture.
4. Consider paying extra for humidity and/or motion sensors and timers.
5. Choose Energy Star models for greater energy efficiency and less noise.
6. Look for quiet models, ideally with a sone rating of 2 or less.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete, it’s subject to change and it may not apply to your project. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
Thank you for joining me. I hope you learned as much as I did. Enjoy the rest of your week and join me for the next episode of Build Your House Yourself University--BYHYU.
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