Types Of Bathroom Exhaust Fans

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It is very important to have a good exhaust fan in your bathroom. There are many reasons behind this, and the most well-known one is to get rid of the stale air that develops when a bathroom is closed up for a long time. This stale air can also have negative effects on your health, such as allergies, asthma, and headaches.

The staleness comes from the lack of airflow, which can also bring about other problems, such as wall damage, furniture damage, mold, and mildew. This is why having a good exhaust fan is important, because it not only prevents these problems, it also recycles the air we breathe while in the bathroom every day, ensuring that we have clean and fresh air all the time.

Most importantly, exhaust fans are important to have in the bathroom because they get rid of any excess moisture, humidity, or steam that comes after a shower or bath. This moisture, if left unventilated, can cause damage to your walls and furniture in the room. Having adequate ventilation through windows is helpful, but there are cases when added exhaust fans are necessary.

The question left unanswered is this – which of the many types of bathroom exhaust fans is the right one for you? Let’s find out.

Different Kinds of Exhaust Fans for the Bathroom

Ceiling-Mounted Exhaust Fans

This type is designed for bathrooms that are located upstairs. Having a ceiling exhaust fan is the best bet to ensure adequate airflow for higher-level rooms. As the name suggests, you need to mount the fan to the room’s ceiling. The fan gets rid of the stale air in the room and pushes it outside through the hole in the ceiling. For this type of setup, it’s common that the fan uses a hole in the house’s attic.

Wall-Mounted Exhaust Fans

This type of exhaust fan is perfect if you are short on time to plan and install. The exhaust fan itself is installed on the wall outside of the house, which will work to let fresh air inside, and stale air exit outside the fan.

Exterior Exhaust Fans

This type is quite similar to wall-mounted fans. These pull the air inside of the room and push it outside. These are great if you are not a fan of noisy exhaust fans, since most of the noise they emit would be experienced from outside the house.

Alcoa Home Exteriors Clay Exhaust Vent EXVENT PC

Inline Exhaust Fans

To place a fan in the bathroom that’s innately difficult to ventilate, inline exhaust fans are an option. These exhaust fans are mounted in between the ducting, allowing the bad air to be expelled through the ducts instead.

AXC Centrifugal 8" In-Line Duct Fan, 368 CFM

Exhaust Fans with Lights

This type goes one step beyond what typical exhaust fans do. This 2-in-1 fixture keeps the air in the bathroom clean and fresh while also providing a source of light. This design makes the exhaust fan less of an eyesore, since it kind of acts as a lighting fixture that can easily blend into the bathroom’s decor.

Air King Combination Exhaust Fans With Light, 50 Cfm

Why Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan

We have seen all the types of exhaust fans that you can use for your bathroom. But are they really necessary? Let’s evaluate your personal needs to more effectively opt for the right exhaust fan.

Odor Elimination

The primary benefit of exhaust fans is controlling odor. Having unpleasant odors in the bathroom can be caused by the trapped stale air inside the room. This can easily be solved by turning the exhaust fan on. Its ventilation system works to promote the influx of fresh air and gets rid of the stale air, bad odors included. This process isn’t just for your comfort, but for your health, too.

Moisture Control

Exhaust fans reduce the bathroom’s humidity, which is essential in the room’s maintenance. Too much moisture can damage the walls, which you’ll notice as the peeling of wallpaper or paint. In grave levels of moisture, doors and windows can start warping.

Aside from causing furniture havoc, too humid bathrooms are greatly attractive environments for mold and mildew to grow and spread. Molds are spores that generate quickly and can be very hard to eliminate. In this case, prevention IS better than cure. That’s why having exhaust fans is crucial to protect your bathroom.

Clean Air Guarantee

Despite many advocacies promoting natural ingredients and organic products, the use of commercial cleaning items containing strong chemicals is still prevalent throughout the country. These chemicals are harsh and can harm the skin if you come in contact with them. Aside from that, these cleansers also create fumes, which can cause respiratory health issues if you inhale them. This concern is doubly worrisome for children and those with compromised immune systems.

Using exhaust fans gets rid of these aggressive chemical odors and lets fresh air inside. For every household, exhaust fans are a must-have – if not for comfort, then for your health and safety.

No More Foggy Mirrors

Remember how we said excess moisture in the bathroom can seep into the walls and furniture, causing them to swell and get damaged? That excess moisture doesn’t really choose where it goes, and when it reaches your mirrors – or glass walls if you have them – then it takes over and causes them to fog over. Exhaust fans provide ventilation that will prevent such issues.

Factors to Think About When Choosing Exhaust Fans

Not sure which exhaust fan is for you? Here are some pointers that’ll help you narrow down your choices.

How Big is Your Bathroom?

Airflow rating is important when choosing an exhaust fan. It’s a standard unit that gauges all ventilation fans. The rating is measured via CFM (cubic feet per minute). You can ask for help from an HVAC expert, or you can compute for this on your own. It’s pretty straightforward. Simply take a measurement of the bathroom in square feet.

A recommendation of 1 CFM per square foot is given by the Home Ventilating Institute for bathrooms. The minimum requirement is 50 CFM. If your bathroom goes over 100 sq.ft, you’ll need higher CFM ratings. You should also add 50 CFM per shower, toilet, bathtub, and jetted tub.

If your ceilings are higher than 8 feet, you’ll want to go for higher-rated exhaust fans. 

If your bathroom has a roll-in shower, then you may also want to opt for a more powerful fan.

How Much Noise Can You Tolerate?

For many people, too much noise can be a dealbreaker. Ask yourself if you’re fine with a humming sound while in the bathroom – and how loud of humming can you live with.

You can measure noise in “sones”. A sone (or less) is as loud as your refrigerator’s sound when it runs. 3 sones is typical in an office setting. For fans, you’ll find noise levels as far below 1 sone and as high as 4 sones.

Choose a level of noise that you can tolerate for 15 minutes, at the very least. This is a rough estimate of how long it takes for the exhaust fan to get rid of excess moisture. Of course, you can opt for the quietest models available, but these come for a price. In this case, silent ventilation is considered a fine luxury. 

However, do consider the positives of having some noise. Having a louder fan in your bathroom can dampen noises from the toilet and sink.

Do You Want Additional Features?

You can get added features with the fans. Like we mentioned earlier, there are fans with lights. There are also exhaust fans that come geared with automatic timers, which you can preset to turn on and off at your specified time. There are also exhaust fans with heaters. These are designed with a humidity monitor that gauges when it’s time to ventilate as the humidity level in the bathroom rises.

There are also fans that turn on and off together with the light switch. You run the risk of turning them off before they’ve had enough time to ventilate properly.

Taking Care of Exhaust Fans

So you’ve taken a good look at your options and finally bought one. It’s been serving you well for quite some time now – but how do you know when it’s time to clean it? Take note that it’s not good to neglect an exhaust fan for too long, as it can not only acquire damage, it can also compromise the quality of air that you receive.

A general rule of thumb: Dust on the fan means that cleanup is way past due. If there’s more steam accumulating on your mirror than usual, you need to clean your exhaust fan. 

To definitively know if the fan needs some maintenance, hold a piece of toilet paper up to the exhaust fan. A fan in good condition should suck the toilet paper in. Otherwise, you’ll need to spend some time cleaning it up. It’s not that hard, so don’t worry. Follow these ten steps to get a mold-free exhaust fan that’s as good as new:

  1. Turn the exhaust fan off using the switch, or go straight to the circuit breaker. Important: there should be no electricity running.
  2. Take the cover out. Carefully pull the fan cover down. Squeeze gently if there are spring clips or metal pins at the sides to release the cover. Depending on the model, there may be a tab.
  3. Use warm water and soap to wash the fan cover on the sink. Optionally, you can also clean the vent cover using a vacuum.
  4. Unplug the exhaust fan.
  5. Remove the motor and visible screws (this part is for a deep clean).
  6. Clean surrounding motor parts and fan blades using a damp cloth. If you are not confident to take the motor out, you can use a vacuum to clean inside the fan housing and around the motor.
  7. Clean the vent and nearby areas. Make sure everything is dry before putting the cover back on.
  8. Reinstall the exhaust fan.
  9. You may turn the electricity on again.
  10. Get ready for a more efficient exhaust fan and cleaner, fresher air.

If those steps seem confusing, check out this handy video tutorial from AdamDIY instead!

We hope this article has been helpful, or at least insightful, in guiding you to choose the right exhaust fan for your bathroom. If you need more expert help for your bathroom projects, take a look at our other posts: