My apartment complex is reaching 100 years old. Do you know what that means? Concrete walls, steam heat, and no bathroom fan.
While I can live with—and even enjoy—the first two features, the last one kind of irks me. In the top left corner of my bathroom, there’s a small vent—connected to all the other bathrooms above and below me, mind you—that’s supposed to suck moisture out, but it just doesn’t seem sufficient. Plus, it’s open to everyone else’s bathroom, so plenty of unappreciated odors and sounds loft up from below.
It’s not likely—or even possible—that my landlord will install a ventilation system in our bathrooms, but most homebuilders would recommend it. If you’re lucky enough to have control over your bathroom amenities, here are a few ventilation tips:
- Most bathrooms in modern homes NEED a ventilation system. Today’s homes are built to be airtight, so forgoing a bathroom fan will only leave you with stagnant air and foggy mirrors. Over time, that built-up moisture will cause mold, mildew, and even health problems.
- Before purchasing a fan, you must know your bathroom’s measurements. Ventilation systems are rated in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The basic standard for a bathroom ventilation fan is that it must be able to change the room air eight times in an hour. In a typical bathroom with eight-foot ceilings, this means you’ll need one CFM per one square foot of bathroom space. If your bathroom measures 100 square feet, you’ll need a fan rated 100 CFM.
- Bathroom fans are also rate in sones for their noise level. The lower the number, the quieter they sound. And trust me, in order to get the most from your fan and use it as often as necessary, you should pay for the quieter model. Anything above a two is likely too noisy for the typical bathroom.
- A bathroom fan doesn’t have to be an eyesore! This article from Apartment Therapy proves it.
- Ready to install a fan? This article from This Old House can show you how to do it yourself.
If you’re like me—stuck with no fan and no chance of installing one—you’re not completely out of luck. There are still precautions you can take to prevent mold and mildew and keep your bathroom smelling fresh.
Leave the door open while showering and open any nearby windows if possible. Place an oscillation fan in the doorway facing outward to suck that moisture out of the bathroom and through the rest of your home or apartment. And clean your bathroom regularly to tackle any mold or mildew before it gets out of hand.
The Home Know-It-All