Long showers feel fantastic—but they aren’t so great for your home. The humidity can breed mold and mildew, which is not only a health hazard, but also bad for your building materials. Ventilation fans can help remove moisture, mold spores and odor from your bathrooms. Nowadays they are “smart” and efficient. What should you look for?
Think about where the air will go. Bathroom ventilation fans often exhaust air in between ceiling joists or into an attic, which brings the moisture into closed spaces where mold can breed. Instead, connect your bathroom exhaust fan to vent ducts that exhaust the air outside your house. If you’re concerned the fan will take the heated air out of your house, install a heat-exchange ventilator fan. Keep in mind that these are more expensive.
Measure your bathroom’s floor space. The air flow capacities of bathroom ventilation fans are measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm). The Home Ventilating Institute says that your fan should have 1 cfm for every square foot of floor space.
Are you bothered by loud noise? Have a sleeping child or spouse? Fan noise is rated by sones. A rating of 0.5 to 1.2 sones means the fan is very quiet, 1.5 to 2.0 sones is a good middle range, and above 4.0 sones means noisy.
Of course these days there are “smart” options. Motion sensor activation turns on the fan when someone enters the room. Fan speed can be pre-set to remove the moisture of smaller tasks like shaving. Some offer a night light to help you in the dark. Humidity sensing fans automatically switch on when they detect high levels of humidity. Some even have built-in heaters.
Another modern luxury—energy efficient ventilation fans, which use about 60 percent less energy than standard fans.
Be prepared to spend between $90 and $400 for a new ventilation fan, and more if you get a professional installation.
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