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Bathroom Exhaust Fans

by Jacob Swiger

Example of a decorative exhaust fan and light for bathrooms Over time moisture can wreck havoc in our homes, which is a big problem in bathrooms due to steam from showers and baths. Mold is a huge and expensive concern in bathrooms without proper ventilation and one of the best preventive measures is to install a bathroom exhaust fan or bath fan for short.

Bath fans are available in many variations, ranging from purely practical to elaborately decorative. Some have fancy timers, sensors, electrical heaters, and/or night lights while others lack these bells and whistles. It's important to determine your needs before selecting a bath fan.

Here are a few short steps to determine the correct bath fan for your bathroom.

Pick out a bath fan rated for the size of your bathroom
Bathroom exhaust fans are certified by the volume of air "exhausted" out of the room within a certain period of time (cubic feet per minute or CFM). To find the recommended fan capacity for your bathroom, simply multiply the bathroom square footage by 1.1 for an 8ft ceiling or multiply by 1.5 for a 9ft ceiling. For example, if the square footage of your 6ft by 10ft bathroom is 60 square feet, then you should use a bathroom exhaust fan with a rating of at least 66 CFM if the ceiling is 8 feet or 90 CFM if the ceiling is 9 feet.

Check the sones.
What is a sone, you might ask? A sone is simply a unit of perceived loudness. For most people, it is important that a bath ventilation fan operates very quietly. If you're an oddball (like me) you might prefer a loud fan for the added white noise while sleeping. Exhaust fan manufacturers publish the sones of their fans to describe the loudness. An exhaust fan rated at 4.0 sones is twice as loud as one rated at 2.0 sones. One sone is roughly equivalent to the sound produced by a quiet refrigerator.

Do you need a bath fan with a light?
Bathroom exhaust fans can come with or without a light fixture. If your bathroom lacks general lighting, a fan with a light is a practical solution. Exhaust fans can be stylized to look just like flush mount ceiling lights, so you can add your favorite finishes to your bathroom and protect against moisture.

Do you need a heater or night light?
Many bath fans have convenient options to add creature comforts. During the winter months your bathroom may feel especially cold when stepping out of the shower or tub. An electrical heater can warm up your bathroom a bit just before taking a shower or bath and keep the room warm until you are dressed. A night light adds a pleasant, low level light to guide late-night trips to the restroom. Why not splurge on your bath fan? You deserve it!

What about humidity sensing bath fans?
Some bath fans have an energy-efficient humidity sensor. Basically the fan will automatically turn on when excess moisture is detected in the space. This feature prevents wasteful running of the fan and helps out if you accidentally forget to switch the fan on before a shower.

Get creative!
Bathroom exhaust fans are available in very attractive designs and styles, so your new bath fan fixture can enhance the decor and functionality of your space.

Written by Jacob Swiger



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