Tim Barber House & Home | Blog | Letting Off Some Steam: Ventilating Y | Getting the bathroom ventilation right is essential to the health of your bath. Without proper air circulation, you can have a problem with mildew...

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Letting Off Some Steam: Ventilating Your Bathroom

Getting the bathroom ventilation right is essential to the health of your bath. Without proper air circulation, you can have a problem with mildew in no time. A powerful exhaust fan, properly installed to vent air to the outdoors is what you need. Learning the different features of bathroom fans will go a long way in helping you make the right choice for your bath.

Here is the rundown:


Choosing the right sized fan and duct is essential for insuring adequate ventilation. You need to know how many CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) you need for the size of the room. The Home Ventilation Institute suggests you determine the right CFM for the room by calculating the fixtures in the room; for a toilet, use 50 CFM, for a shower, use 50, a bathtub another 50 and a jetted tub use 100 CFM. Add them up and you will know the size fan for your space. The proper duct size is determined by the CFM moved by the fan, factored against the size of the room and the length of the duct. For a clear formula to help you, go to www.hvi.org.

Bathroom Ventilation


Your bath fan wants a damper, especially if you live in colder climates. Dampers prevent outside air from entering the bath through the exterior vent. Without a damper, you may feel quite a chilly breeze while you are enjoying a warm soak in the bath.

The cheaper fans can create considerable noise when running. It may be worth a little extra for a quieter fan. Panasonic Whisper Fans are some of the highest rated models of vent fans – and the Panasonic Whisper Green fans are rated 300-500% more energy efficient than an equivalent Energy Star Rated brand.

The HVI recommends that bathroom fans be allowed to run for 20 minutes after use of the bathroom. One way to achieve this is through the use of a timer.

With most brands of ventilation fans, you can also opt for a model that will heat the bathroom. Some fans heat with a warming bulb and others blow hot air. Again, for colder climates this can be lovely.

Yes, many bathroom fans come with a light. However, the light rarely provides adequate lumens to light your bath well, and it calls attention to what is typically an unattractive plastic cover. We prefer to keep the ventilation and the decorative lighting separate in our baths.

Fan design has improved in recent years - though many excellent models still come with a cheap, plastic, 1987-looking grill. To improve on this, we often replace the grille of the vent fan with a decorative heat register. Decorative registers come in all different styles; some models have a streamlined, contemporary look while others come in traditional patterns. You can often buy the register with screw holes that align with those on the fan. Simply remove the plastic grille and screw the register into the fan. Registers come in beautiful finishes like nickel, bronze or brass. Or you can opt to paint it the same color as your bathroom to call less attention to it.