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Installing an Exhaust Fan for Your Bathroom

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Posted December 18, 2015
exhaust fan

Proper ventilation is important for the bathroom, and not just to keep bad odors out. Because of long, hot showers, there’s a lot of warm, moist air that accumulates in the smaller room, and it needs somewhere to go. That place is your walls, where it can condense and start to grow mold and mildew. Products are available that might be able to kill the spores and clean the stains they leave behind, but the best defense is prevention.

This is the job of your bathroom exhaust fan. The fan, which is typically mounted in the ceiling, will pull moist air right out of the bathroom and send it out of bathroom and outside using an exhaust pipe. It is your ultimate tool in the battle against mold.

Not surprising, there are different types of exhaust fans, but the three basic fans are:

Ceiling Mounted – installed directly into the ceiling and ventilate into the attic or through the roof
Inline/Remote – Actual unit is located in the attic and is connected to a ceiling grille in the bathroom with ductwork, venting to the outside through the attic roof or wall
Wall-Mounted/External – Mounted on the external wall of the house

Ceiling mounted fans tend to be the easiest to install for the do-it-yourselfer. The fan pulls the moist air out of the bathroom and sends it up an exhaust pipe.

However, inline/remote fans tend to be more popular because of convenience. With the fan united being located in a different location (than directly inside the bathroom), it tends to be quieter. Plus, one inline fan can be connected to several ducts, so it can be used to ventilate multiple locations or bathrooms.

Some features of available exhaust fans include: timers, humidity/moisture sensors, motion sensors (turn on when someone enters the room), heaters, and decorative lighting kits.

In order to choose the right sized fan, you need to know the measurements of your bathroom. The capacity of bathroom fans is rated in cubic feet per minute (CFM), which shows how much air a particular fan can move. It’s recommended to use 1 CFM per square foot of bathroom area. A typical 8×10 bathroom comprises 80 square feet, so it would need a ventilated fan rated at 80 CFM.

According to, if your bathroom is larger than 100 square feet, the Home Ventilating Institute recommends installing ventilation based on the number and type of bathroom fixtures. Example: Showers, tubs, and toilets require a fan rated at 50 CFM, but a whirlpool tub requires a fan rated at 100 CFM. So, a large bathroom that includes a whirlpool tub, shower, and toilet requires 200 CFM for ventilation.

Installing a new, or replacing an inefficient exhaust fan will help prevent costly damage to your home, as well as prove some fresh air for your home.


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