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Ventilation in the Bathroom

bathroom renovations and ventilation - steamDuring a bathroom renovation, special attention should be given to the bathroom ventilation. Bathrooms require effective ventilation and waterproofing to control moisture. Although minimum building code states that every bathroom must have a window or a fan to move moist air out of the bathroom, we found that it’s simply not enough. Today many households in Toronto and GTA have two or more people showering each day and opening a window does not provide adequate ventilation. Nowadays, having a bathroom exhaust fan becomes a necessity, not an option.

Bathroom ventilation system

Bathroom ventilation system is designed to exhaust moist air and odors to the outside of the home. Typical ventilation system consists of a ceiling fan unit connected to a duct that terminates at the roof. The minimum code states that a bathroom fan should have a reading of 90 cfm (cubic feet per minute). This means that it can remove up to 90 cubic feet of air per minute from a bathroom.

How to determine if your bathroom has enough ventilation?

When it comes to bathroom ventilation, most of the time it’s easy to spot a lack of it. Things like moisture stains on walls or ceilings, musty dump smell, black mold or other microbial growth on walls and ceilings, peeling paint and corrosion of metal could indicate that the bathroom has insufficient ventilation. If your home bathroom has any of these issues, it’s time to deal with it and fix it until it could lead to more serious damages.

Why is it important to install a proper fan when renovating a bathroom?

As we mentioned earlier, lack of ventilation in the bathroom could lead to many potential problems such as mold and mildew growth, damaged walls etc. Thus, before your bathroom renovation starts, it is important to think about the kind of fan to use and inspect current termination of the bathroom vent. Based on our own bathroom renovation experience and talking to different bathroom renovation contractors, we found that $35-40 fans just don’t work properly in the larger bathrooms. What they do is just “twist” the air around the bathroom without actually pulling it outside through the exhaust.bathroom renovation high quality fan

To really remove moisture and bathroom contaminants from the bath and also provide the right ventilation that will improve air quality, we recommend using new generation of quiet and energy-efficient exhaust fans and controls. Bathroom fan loudness is measured in sones and the less sones the better the rating. Thus a good quality bathroom fan would have to have between 0.5 – 1.5 sones. Some of the leaders on the bathroom fans market are Panasonic and Broan. For a good quality bathroom fan be prepared to spend around $150-$200.

Duration of the Ventilation

According to Home Ventilation Institute (www.hvi.org) bathroom fan should be left on for 20 minutes after use of the bathroom. Setting up a timer is a good solution, allowing the fan to turn off automatically at the proper time. For steam showers it is best to have a separate fan in the steam room that can be turned on after use.

Location of the bathroom fan

The location of the bathroom fan is usually predetermined by the builder of the house. However, during bathroom renovation in older homes where there is no existing bathroom fan, the best strategic vent location would be directly above or as close as possible to the source of hot and moist air (shower, tub, steam room). If you install the bathroom fan directly above the tub or shower, it must be listed as suitable for such locations and must be installed on a GFCI protected circuit.

Is your bathroom fan vented to the outside?

Many homeowners in Toronto are not aware of what is happening to their bathroom fan vents above the ceiling. Yet this is very important to understand. Improper exit of hot and moist air could result in the buildup of mold in you attic which can cause the roof to rot. Moisture also reduces the effectiveness of thermal insulation. All bathroom vents must terminate at the home exterior. We see a lot of houses in Toronto, especially older homes, which have improper terminations of the bathroom vents. Some of them are mid-level in the attic, beneath the insulation, or beneath the attic vents.

Please contact Bowerbird Renovations for your next bathroom renovation project. Bowerbird Renovations is a Toronto based renovation company specializing in the interior home renovations. Please check our renovations pictures and read our clients reviews on Home Stars.

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