Any bathroom where bathing takes place should have an exhaust fan to move the moisture out of the room and into the exterior of the house. In fact, most houses built after the middle of the 20th century have fans. But for quite some time, builders vented bathroom fans only to the attic, not to the roof or an exterior wall. Back in the day, conventional wisdom said that the gable or soffit vents in the attic space were sufficient to move moisture out of the house. Since then, however, builders and code conjurers saw the light, and bathroom exhaust installations now run through ducts to the great outdoors.
If your bathroom has no fan or sports the old-style system, you should consider installing a new one. The best time to do this, of course, is during a full bathroom remodel. But you don't have to, and maybe shouldn't, wait until then to do so. Here's what you need to know about bath fans.
What happens when bathroom moisture isn't vented properly?
When the humid bathroom air is left to linger after bathing, it collects on the walls, ceiling and floor. Eventually, wallpaper and paint will start to peel and dangerous mold can find a foothold. If you have a fan that vents to the attic, even if the duct is pointed to an attic vent, chances are good that the moisture will collect on the underside of the roof deck, or sheathing, and in the insulation materials.
Those living in arid climates may never have a problem in the attic, but that's by no means a foregone conclusion. In a humid climate or season, if moisture has no drier air in which to evaporate, it will cling to your structural elements. It may then rot out your trusses and rafters, as well as compact your loose or fiberglass batt insulation. The less loft in your insulation, the less effective it is. Plus, mold potential raises its ugly head in the attic, too.
Will any exhaust fan work in my bathroom?
Using a fan without sufficient power to suction out the moisture from the whole bathroom will be of little use. Your contractor should hook you up with a fan large enough to do the job right. An experienced contractor will ensure the fan is properly sized and fitted to work at maximum efficiency.
Aren't they noisy?
Newer models are much quieter than ever before. Also, some models mount on a roof truss and draw the air up through louvered ceiling vents, placing the motor noise far away and allowing for more than one ceiling vent for faster, more effective removal of moisture.
Will they intrude on my bathroom's style?
Not anymore! Models that incorporate a light fixture and a more subtle, hidden vent can actually add an element of functional style to your ceiling.
Won't rain and snow blow in?
Not if your contractor knows what he's doing. Any penetration through the roof or outside wall can eventually invite water in if the installation was faulty, the design of the exterior cover is cheap or if damage occurs. Otherwise, professional-grade roof jacks and vent covers are designed to create a negative airflow at the vent which keeps interior air moving out, especially when the wind blows. Wall vents will be hooded and screened against sideways rains and snows.
With only advantages and no downsides to proper bathroom venting, be sure you have bath fans and that they move the air to the outside. If you aren't sure what type of unit you have working in your bathroom, give us a call at Owens Construction. We'd be happy to come take a look for you. If you're planning a bathroom remodel, we're the experts who can help you plan the perfect new space with just the right fan system to enhance your enjoyment and the longevity of your investment. Contact us today for a free consultation.