Many people Underestimate the Important of Proper Ventilation in Humid Bathrooms

While it may seem wasteful to push conditioned air from your home, you're also pushing out humidity and chemicals that can cause harm

Bathroom Ventilation is Underestimated in Most Homes
Image: Pixabay
July 9, 2018

Ask you friends and family about how to improve air quality in your home and you'll probably get a variety of answers. But we're willing to bet that none of those answers will involve a bathroom exhaust fan.

Bathroom exhaust fans are often underestimated

Bathrooms are some of the most important rooms in a home and are one of the first rooms that home buyers check when looking for a new home. Gone are the bathrooms of yesteryear that were simply a place to freshen up. Now, many homes have evolved into lavish places, some taking on the look and feel of spas. With this evolution has come the potential for increased humidity, which can cause damage to both your health and home. But many people don't think to turn on the bathroom exhaust fan for an appropriate amount of time to vent that humidity.

Bathroom exhaust fans are Important to air quality, but many are undersized or nonexistent

Manufacturers are developing ventilation systems that perform better, are quieter and pull more air than those of only ten years ago. But some homes still have no bathroom ventilation at all and still many more have inadequate ventilation, including new expensive homes that are still equipped with cheap exhaust fans that don't pull much air.

What Happens When the humidity level rises and says high?

When humidity levels rise in the bathroom, or any room, water can quickly collect on the walls and ceiling, especially if they are sufficiently cooler than warm humid air. Think about your bathroom mirror fogging up. The same thing is happening to your walls where moisture starts seeping into the paint and drywall. Over a long enough period of time, the walls stay so moist that moisture can make its way to the wood structure. All of this moisture harbors the potential for mold and mildew, not to mention bad smells.

Mold and mildew are potentially dangerous side effects of improper ventilation

Mold and mildew form very quickly in warm, moist environments, making the bathroom one of the best places to find these organisms. While it may seem harmless at first, these pesky little organisms often lead to allergies and sometimes serious health problems as they release toxins into the air. The damage these organisms do to the house can send potential home buyers packing. Depending upon the severity of the mold and mildew problem, your house might even be deemed a hazardous materials zone and be uninhabitable. To make the problem worse, some insurance companies are denying these types of claims or paying out very little money.

Chemicals in your water sometimes vaporize

Municipal water is treated with a variety of chemicals, some of which can vaporize with sufficiently hot water. A bathroom exhaust fan can help to remove these chemicals from the air. An exhaust fan can also remove other chemicals from your bathroom, such as toxic cleaning chemicals used to clean showers, toilets and floors. You don't want those chemicals floating around your home.

Bathroom exhaust fans are plenty

Bathroom fans come in many different shapes and sizes for nearly any kind of bathroom you can imagine. The key is to pick a fan that is properly sized for the bathroom. Remember earlier how we said that many bathrooms are inadequately ventilated? The bathroom fans in these situations are often too small and pull very little air, but meet minimum code requirements. How are you supposed to know if your fan is up to the job? A very easy way is to calculate the square footage of your bathroom. If your bathroom is 9 feet by 7 feet, you have a 63 square foot bathroom. If you have standard eight foot ceilings, you would likely need an exhaust fan around 63 cubic feet per minute (CFM). If you have a taller ceiling, multiply the length, width and height of the room to get the cubic feet. Then divide by 60 and multiply by 8. So, if you have 10 foot ceilings in a bathroom that is 10 feet by 10 feet, you would have 1000 cubic feet, divided by 60, then multiplied by 8 for

Is your Bathroom exhaust fan doing its job?

Is your current fan doing the work it's supposed to do? To get a good indication of your current fan, turn on the fan just prior to entering the shower and leave it running. If the bathroom mirror is mostly fogged, you may want to do some investigating work. The fan might be getting old, might need to be cleaned, or might have an obstruction within the line, such as a bird nest. Some fans may last five years and some many last twenty years. If you do replace a fan and decide to go with the cheapest model, you may even find that it performs better than the one you have now!