Your bathroom is the wettest room in your home. Steamy showers, flushing toilets, running sinks, and occasional drips add up to high humidity. And with major moisture comes potential problems: mold and mildew, a funky smell, peeling wallpaper, paint that chips and scratches easily, and even lifting or splitting of laminated plywood vanities. Luckily, proper bathroom ventilation can keep humidity and its resulting issues in check. Here are nine ways to prevent excessive moisture buildup in your bathroom.
Do choose the right bathroom fan.
If you don’t have a window in your bathroom, chances are good the building codes in your city require a bathroom vent fan. These fans pull moisture-laden air out of the room—as well as bathroom odors—and vent them outside. You’ll find several types to choose from, including simple box fans that install in the ceiling, combination bathroom fan/light fixtures, combination bathroom fan/light/heater fixtures, and wall-mount bathroom fans for situations where you must vent the fan through the wall without much ductwork. More often, bathroom fans vent out through a duct running up to the roof.
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Although most bathroom vent fans are quite simple, some have bells and whistles, such as motion sensors that switch the device on when you enter the bathroom and turn it off once you leave. Some units even have a heat exchange function, which uses the vented warm air to heat up incoming cooler air, thus preventing the fan from sucking out your home’s warmth during the winter months. You’ll also find fan/light fixtures with decorative globes and finishes that add a bit of style.
Don’t forget to measure your bathroom.
Typical building regulations call for a full air exchange—a measurement of the air movement out of a space divided by the square footage of that space—five times per hour, but most contractors and building experts feel that’s actually a bit low, and recommend you choose a fan that provides at least eight full air exchanges per hour. No need to bother with a calculator and mathematical equations, however; you’ll generally get close to that goal by choosing a bathroom fan with a cubic-feet-per-minute (CFM) capacity that’s the same as your bathroom’s square footage. For example, if your bathroom is 80 square feet, you need a vent fan with an 80 CFM capacity. Add an extra 100 CFM if your bathroom sports a jetted tub to compensate for the additional moisture tossed into the air by the water’s agitation.
Do make the right installation decision.
If you’re simply replacing an old bathroom fan with a newer unit, the project is within the realm of most handy DIYers, as you’ll be able to use the existing vents and electrical connections. If working with electricity is not within your comfort range, however, leave the job to a professional. And you’ll need a pro to install a fan in