Ventilation in the Bathroom

Your bathroom is a wet environment, where moisture is constantly pumped into the air. This is made evident by the condensation covering mirrors and windows after someone takes a shower. Less obvious is the additional moisture infused every time a toilet is flushed or a faucet is turned on. If this moisture is not completely removed from the air, it can result in mold and mildew growth on bathroom walls and ceiling. Your bathroom may have an unpleasant, musty smell, even though you use air fresheners. This can be a signal that your bathroom is not properly ventilated.

One of the best ways to ventilate your bathroom is to install a high quality fan. The Home Ventilation Institute (HVI) provides helpful suggestions for choosing the right fan for your particular bathroom. HVI guidelines take into account 1) the square footage of your bathroom, 2) the number of moisture-producing fixtures in the room, and 3) the cubic foot per minute (cfm) airflow rating of the fan. A large bathroom may require more than one fan-perhaps one next to the shower and one in the toilet area. You could also consider a fan system that utilizes a remote-mount motor that connects to multiple ceiling grills installed throughout your bathroom.

If you hesitate to install a noisy fan, then pay attention to the fan’s sone rating. This is the measurement of the way the human ear senses the loudness of the fan. An inexpensive fan may have a sone rating of 4, which is similar to human speech. A high-quality fan with a sone rating of 1.0 or less is barely audible. Of course, the sound of a remote-mount motor will be muffled by the distance.

To ensure that excess moisture is removed from your bathroom, let the fan run at least 20 minutes after you finish using the room. If you are concerned that you will forget to turn the fan off, one easy solution is to install a timer. Another option is to purchase a humidity-sensing fan that switches on whenever it detects an increase in humidity, and then turns off again automatically. There are also multi-speed models that operate continuously at lower cfm levels to provide whole-house ventilation, but when a motion detector senses someone entering the room, the fan switches to higher cfm levels. The benefit of a whole-house ventilation system is that it works constantly to remove contaminants-such as dust, pet dander and various chemicals-that may be lodged inside your home.

You can select from a wide variety of fan styles to fit your taste and bathroom décor. Some fans have heating features, while others include supplemental lighting. There are fan/lights that also function as decorative light fixtures, featuring glass globes and a variety of finishes. Other fan/lights look just like standard recessed light fixtures. When choosing your fan, look for a model that is Energy Star qualified, which means it excels at energy savings, quiet operation and level of performance.

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