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Do I need an Exhaust Fan?

Bathroom exhaust fans, and why they are important. 

Whether you call it a bathroom fan, exhaust fan, fart fan, sound barrier machine, white noise maker… it’s all really about venting air outside of the room.

Why are they important?  What do they actually do, you might ask?  This article is not about ‘code’, as codes change from place to place.  This is information about what is best for your health and your home.  The small, lowly fan serves several important functions.  It removes excess moisture, removes cleaning chemical fumes, prevents foggy mirrors, removes foul odors by diluting airborne poop particles, and perhaps most importantly, deters mold growth.  Excess moisture in a room, for a prolonged time, can warp walls and doors, even down to the structural wood of the room.

How should the fan be installed?  It should be vented outside, not into the attic, soffit, ridge vent, or crawlspace.  It should not simply ‘recirculate’ the air, but vent it outside the home. A Realtor once told me that if you have a window in the bathroom, you don’t need a fan.  Not true. I don’t care what 'the code' says. If you have a window, great! Use it as well, but it should not be relied upon to remove all of the aforementioned reasons to have a fan.

What results from not having, or not using, the bathroom exhaust fan?  You will likely start to see peeling paint due to moisture, mold, and may even see damaged drywall and rusting fixtures.  There are also many health problems related to mold, and odor sensitivities.

So now that we see the importance of having and using an exhaust fan, what is the best way to use it? Turn it on before getting seated comfortably, or before starting to run your shower or bath.  Let it run 15 to 20 minutes after your activity.  It is best not to run the fan continuously, 24/7, as the motor may get hot and present a fire risk. If you do have a window in your bath, you can use it as well, helping air flow.  But again, a window won’t serve all the purposes of a fan.  After your private bathroom time, leave the door open while the fan continues to run, to pull more air through.

Is there ever a time or season not to use the fan?  It really isn’t seasonal, so much as what your humidity level is.  Sometimes, the air is dry, like in the Mid-west winter, and you want some extra humidity, then don’t run the fan, but leave the door open for air circulation.  If your home’s humidity is over 65%, use the fan.

Maintenance:  It is recommended to clean your fan every 6 months to one year, depending on usage.  First, make sure the power is off. The fan cover comes off, and can be cleaned in the sink.  Use your vacuum’s crevice tool, and a soft paint brush to clean out the motor area.  Let the cover dry, then replace it.

The same exhaust fans are great in the laundry area, as well.  So in review, it doesn’t matter what you call it: exhaust fan, fart fan, sound barrier machine, or something else, just use it!

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