How to improve bathroom ventilation

bathroom-vent

 

Most people are aware that good ventilation is important in a bathroom, but many don't know why. Homeowners may want to improve ventilation for several reasons: 

  • To reduce mold and mildew growth 
  • To reduce odors 
  • To prevent condensation from damaging fixtures and finishes 

Adequate air circulation and ventilation also help to prevent Legionnaires’ disease, a serious respiratory infection that can be contracted by inhaling water droplets contaminated with the legionella bacteria.

While some jurisdictions have no legal requirements for bathroom ventilation, others have precise regulations. For example, the California Building Code requires that bathrooms in new construction have a minimum of 20 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of ventilation. Homeowners should consult their local building codes to ensure they meet all ventilation requirements.

In this article, we will explore the importance of proper bathroom ventilation and how to properly ventilate your bathroom.

 

The importance of bathroom ventilation

Bathrooms often have the highest humidity levels in a home, and poor ventilation can lead to a number of problems. Mold and mildew love damp, dark places, and a bathroom that isn't properly ventilated provides the perfect environment for them to grow. In addition to being unsightly, mold and mildew can cause respiratory problems, trigger allergies and worsen asthma symptoms.

Odors are another common problem in poorly ventilated bathrooms. Even if you clean your bathroom regularly, odors can linger if there's nowhere for them to go. A good ventilation system will remove odors quickly and keep your bathroom smelling fresh. Proper bathroom ventilation can help avoid bad odors, excess moisture and airflow issues.

 

How to properly ventilate your bathroom

You don't have to be a professional HVAC contractor to properly ventilate your bathroom. Sometimes a simple bathroom exhaust fan will do the trick. Let's explore some home improvements you can make to say goodbye to humid air and hello to better air quality in your home.

Buy the right fan

Exhaust fans are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, and they can make a big difference in the air quality of your bathroom. When shopping for an exhaust fan, look for one rated for the size of your bathroom. A small bathroom (<100 square feet) will need a fan with a capacity of 50 cfm or less, while a larger bathroom (>100 square feet) will need a fan with a capacity of 100 cfm or more.

In addition to being the right size, your bathroom ventilation fan should also be certified by the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI). This certification ensures that the fan has been independently tested and meets strict quality and performance standards. Remember to check the Energy Star rating. Energy Star-certified ventilating fans are more energy- and cost-efficient.

If brand name and popularity are important factors for you when deciding on the right bathroom exhaust fan, Broan is a popular bathroom ventilation fan brand with many homeowners. Broan-NuTone now offers a new bathroom exhaust fan model with antimicrobial light technology to prevent bacteria and mold growth. It also offers Bluetooth fans with colored lights and speakers to play your music, and bathroom fans with heaters and fan-light combos.

Once you select the perfect bath fan, it's important to install it correctly. The first step is to find an appropriate location for the bath fan. It should be installed near the shower or bathtub because these are the main sources of moist air in a bathroom. If possible, also vent the bathroom exhaust fan to the outside (not into an attic or crawl space).

The next step is to install the bath fan according to the manufacturer's instructions. This usually involves cutting a hole in the ceiling and attaching the fan housing to a joist or truss with screws. Once the housing is in place, the bathroom vent fan motor can be attached and wired to an electrical junction box.

Use metal or PVC for ductwork

According to code requirements, bathrooms must be ventilated to remove excess moisture and odors. There are several ways to ventilate a bathroom, but a flexible duct, or flex duct, is not one of them. Flex duct is made of plastic or metal tubing covered with a flexible insulation material. It is commonly used in HVAC systems to route air around obstacles, but the design does not allow air movement. The insulation material can trap airborne contaminants, worsening indoor air quality. The small diameter of the flex duct limits airflow, which reduces the ventilation system’s efficiency. For these reasons, avoiding flex duct in bathroom ventilation systems is best.

Instead, use metal or PVC for the ductwork. Metal or PVC pipe is durable and won't trap contaminants as flex duct can. In addition, the larger diameter of metal or PVC pipe allows for better airflow, which will improve the efficiency of your bathroom ventilation system.

Keep duct runs as short and straight as possible

Keeping the duct runs as short and straight as possible helps to ensure that the air circulates properly. If the ductwork is too long or has too many bends, the air will move more slowly and won't be as effective at removing excess moisture and odors from the bathroom.

 

Ways to improve bathroom ventilation

To combat high humidity and mold growth, you can consider taking steps like installing a bathroom exhaust fan timer. Timers are a great way to improve bathroom ventilation. 

You could also consider adding a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans circulate the air and help to remove excess moisture from the room. Let’s review some other steps you can take to ensure proper bathroom ventilation.

Make sure you let the fan run long enough

Make a habit of running the bathroom exhaust fan every time you use the shower or bathtub. Run it for at least 20 minutes after you're done bathing to ensure it removes all the moisture from the air.

You should also run the fan when using the bathroom for other activities, such as brushing your teeth or getting ready for bed. By running the fan regularly, you'll keep humidity levels low and prevent mold growth, mildew and odors from taking over your bathroom.

Clean the fan regularly

Bathroom exhaust fans play an important role in keeping your bathroom clean and free of unpleasant odors. However, over time, the exhaust fan blades can become caked with dust and dirt, making it less effective. Fortunately, cleaning a bathroom exhaust fan is relatively easy and only takes a few minutes. 

  • First, turn off the power to the bath fan at the circuit breaker. 
  • Then remove the fan’s grille cover and gently vacuum any debris from the blades. 
  • Next, use a damp cloth to wipe the inside of the housing unit. 
  • Finally, thoroughly clean the blades with soapy water before replacing the grille cover.

Read our guide for more details on cleaning your bathroom exhaust fan.

Wipe up puddles when you see them

When you wipe up a puddle of water, you're not just doing it for aesthetics. Although we often think of humidity levels as something caused by hot weather, it can be caused by any water source — including puddles of water on the floor. That's why it's important to wipe up puddles of water; not only will it help keep your bathroom looking neat and tidy, but it will also help to prevent humid air and keep your bathroom free from mold and mildew.

Don’t leave your shower door or curtain closed

Taking a hot shower creates steam, which can lead to mold and mildew if it's not allowed proper airflow to dry. Keeping the curtain or door open after showering will help circulate the air and dry it more quickly. It's also important to close the curtain later and keep the fabric flat to prevent mold and mildew spores from multiplying on the shower curtain.

Open the window

If you don't have a bathroom exhaust fan, opening a window is the next best option. To avoid creating too much of a draft, open the window slightly and let the air circulate until the room feels refreshed. If installing a bathroom ventilation fan isn’t an option, consider installing a bathroom ceiling fan as an alternative.

 

Keep your bathroom systems running smoothly with a home warranty from Cinch

Most people don't think about their plumbing and ductwork until something goes wrong. And when something does go wrong, it can be a real headache — not to mention a major expense. 

That's where a home warranty comes in. A home warranty from Cinch Home Services can help protect you from the high cost of repairs or replacement for your plumbing and ductwork. We offer affordable plans that fit your budget and give you peace of mind.

So, why wait?

Get a quote and start protecting your home today! 

Are you concerned about mold and mildew in your bathroom? Learn how to improve bathroom ventilation with our simple guide.