How to Choose Bathroom Exhaust Fans

Bathroom exhaust fans are important for removing humidity and odors from the bathroom, but which model is right for your needs? Read on to learn what you need to know to make a knowledgeable decision.

Bathroom fan basics
The first step in picking a bathroom fan is to determine what kind of fan you want. Here are several basic questions to answer:

  • Where do I want to mount the fan-on the ceiling or on the wall?

  • Do I want a fan with a built-in light fixture?

  • Do I want a fan with a timer or a switch?

  • Do I want a fan with a built-in heating element?

Air movement
For a fan to be effective at removing humidity and odors, it needs to be able to move a sufficient amount of air, which, according to the Home Ventilation Institute (HVI), is eight air changes per minute.

What does that mean to you? It means that you're going to have to measure your bathroom to determine which fan will meet your needs. The HVI recommends buying a unit with one CFM (Cubic foot per minute) per square foot of bathroom space and a minimum of 50 CFMs per bathroom.

Have a bathroom that is more than 100 square feet? The HVI recommends that you add up the CFM requirements of each bathroom fixture to arrive at the proper CFM for your installation. The list is as follows:

  • Toilet: 50 CFM

  • Shower: 50 CFM

  • Bathtub: 50 CFM

  • Jetted tub: 100 CFM

Have a bathroom with a cathedral ceiling? Then, you'll need to calculate the volume of your bathroom to determine the appropriate CFM.

Noise concerns
Fan noise is a major concern for many consumers-as well it should be. To pick a fan that runs quietly, you need to learn a bit about how fan noise is rated-and that means learning about sones.

Pick up a fan box at the store, and you will see that the noise is measured in sones, a unit you're probably not familiar with. How then, can you evaluate what a good sone rating is? To make it easy, look for models with a sone rating of .5 or less. These will be the quietest models on the market and will barely be detectable in your home.

More purchasing tips
If you plan to install a fan directly over your shower, be sure the fan you are choosing is approved for use in wet areas.

To further ensure quality, look for a model with the Home Ventilation Institute seal or rating. Models with timers make it easy for you to run the fan for 20 minutes, the amount of time recommended by the HMI.

A bathroom exhaust fan is a great investment. It can help to prevent mold and moisture damage and help to maintain the air quality in your home. Before you run out to buy a bathroom fan, spend some time determining the fan specs that are right for your installation needs.

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