All about Bathroom Ventilation

We all know how good a nice hot shower can feel after a cold Pennsylvania winter’s day. Indoor plumbing and automatically heated water are truly great inventions from the 19th century (the water heater was invented in Pittsburgh in 1889).

Unfortunately, your bathroom may not be enjoying your toasty showers as much as you are. The humidity generated by your hot shower can build up as moisture on the walls and ceiling, and if the room is not suitably ventilated, mold and mildew will form.

How can you prevent this unpleasant prospect? Look no further than your bathroom’s exhaust fan. Tasked with removing excess moisture and smells, the bathroom exhaust fan is your best defense against mold and mildew.

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Preventing moisture buildup in your bathroom is crucial for your families health.

Today’s bathroom ventilation fans come in all shapes and sizes, and offer a few optional features as well. This can make choosing a bathroom fan a bit confusing, so we want to help you make the proper choice.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you choose your new ventilation fan.

How large is my bathroom?

Measure your bathroom and calculate the square footage. For example, a six by six foot bathroom would calculate out to 36 square feet. As a rule of thumb, you should choose a fan with a CFM rating that matches or exceeds the room’s area. So for your 36-square-foot bathroom, a 50 CFM fan would suffice.

For bathrooms with square footage over 100, you should add 50 CFM for each toilet, shower, and bath, and 100 CFM for each whirlpool. One more thing: the rule of thumb above is based on 8-foot ceilings, so if you have a higher ceiling, you’ll need more CFM. Here’s a handy online calculator that takes ceiling height into account.

Can I install the bathroom exhaust fan myself?

Certainly, if you are confident you have the required skills. If new wiring or duct work is required and you’re knowledge of these tasks is limited, we recommend hiring a professional. Needless to say, fire or moisture in your walls are bigger problems than a little moisture in the bathroom.

Is a fan already installed?

If there’s already a fan there, the job is greatly simplified. However, you should check the wiring’s condition, and you might need to replace the ductwork, depending on what diameter duct is already installed. Changing from 4-inch to 6-inch diameter will improve performance a lot, as will using smooth metal ductwork in place of plastic flex hose. Be careful to avoid sharp bends in the ductwork, especially one close to the fan.

Do we care about the noise?

Bathroom exhaust fans can make quite a bit of noise. There actually are ratings for the noise level of fans, measured in sones. If you want a quiet fan, aim for a fan as close to 0 as you can find. A quiet refrigerator makes 1.0 sones, which would be great for a fan, while 3.0 sones would be a fairly loud fan.

What are some optional bathroom exhaust fan features?

There are some interesting optional features that can come with your exhaust fan. These include lights, heaters, motion sensors, timers, and humidity detectors.

Finally, as with any electrical appliance, you should compare efficiency ratings shown on the required EnergyStar label on every fan.

We hope this “clears the air” on your bathroom ventilation questions! If you were thinking about a bathroom remodel but have become overwhelmed by information overload, don’t hesitate to give the experts at Norman Graham Builders a call. You can reach us at 717-656-7336.