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Is the exhaust in the bathroom for the smell or the humidity?
July 19, 2011 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Is the exhaust in the bathroom for the smell or the humidity? In other words: is it used to make it smell better, or is it used to make sure the room dries out better?
posted by sandmanwv to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Exhaust is to help combat moisture that would otherwise damage walls and ceiling. Tile helps with this too (the combo of tile and exhaust is best)
posted by Murray M at 7:44 AM on July 19, 2011


One begets the other in my bathroom. If the towels don't get a chance to dry out, they will get mildewy and funky. If surfaces don't get a chance to dry out, they will attract dust and furze and get grotty and need cleaning. If the shower curtain doesn't dry it will get little mildew patches. If the walls don't dry out [apparently this was the case with the fan-less bathroom I have with the tenant before me. He'd take long hot showers, never crack the window and the room was in a constant state of partiail mildew and it stank] they will get ganky. Even bathrooms (in reasonably humid climates, not in the tropics) are not supposed to be overly humid for long periods of time and keeping them damp leads to their eventual speedier-than-normal degradation.
posted by jessamyn at 7:44 AM on July 19, 2011


The humidity is the biggest reason. Running a shower without the exhaust fan running is inviting mildew and rot.
posted by rocket88 at 7:44 AM on July 19, 2011


Yes. Reducing the humidity will make the place smell better, as humidity leads to mold and mildew.

If you're talking about stinking up the room after using the toilet, well, it works for that too. But that isn't going to actually hurt anything, while the humidity from baths/showers really does.
posted by valkyryn at 7:47 AM on July 19, 2011


Definitely humidity. I've lived in apartments with fans in the bathroom and I've lived in apartments with no fans in the bathroom. Guess which apartments had mildew on the bathroom ceiling?
posted by phunniemee at 7:48 AM on July 19, 2011


We have bathrooms with no fans and mildew on the ceilings :( :(
posted by Andrhia at 8:13 AM on July 19, 2011


It's for the humidity, as people have said. However, often there is a fan but not adequate ducting to the outside, so the humid air just kind of gets dissipated in the attic space with varying results.

The fans are also good for, um, providing a sonic cover for occupants doing their business.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:17 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


For bathrooms with showers, humidity is definitely the number one reason for having a fan. But I've been in plenty of houses that have 1/2 bathrooms (just a toilet and sink) that also have fans and I believe the primary function of these fans is odor control. Since the rooms are basically just used for the toilet and washing hands, I doubt humidity is much of a problem.
posted by otolith at 8:19 AM on July 19, 2011


All of the above and:

The fan is so neurotic people can poo without having to play music from their phone to cover any noises.

The fan is for claustrophobic people so that they don't have to leave the door open.

Really the fan has many, many uses.
posted by anaelith at 8:31 AM on July 19, 2011


Nth for the humidity. We just recently had our bathroom remodeled, and it previously did not have a fan, and as a result over the years not only did mildew start to take root, but also the paint started to bubble and chip and in general everything started to rot away to nothing. It was the suck.

Now we have a nice new bathroom with a fan, and I love it and I am very happy and the amount of moisture that hangs around is noticeably lessened, except that my wife and step-daughter now refuse to use the fan, because their end goal in life is to DRIVE ME COMPLETELY INSANE.

I also agree with Horselover Phattie - the fan is very useful for disguising poop noise.
posted by kbanas at 8:36 AM on July 19, 2011


kabanas - wire up the switches so that turning on the light makes the fan go on, too.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:51 AM on July 19, 2011


It's for both. I live in the desert where it is almost impossible to get any type of steam fog in the bathroom (no matter how hard we try). Yet, new houses are built with fans in the bathrooms despite this total lack of humidity.
posted by buggzzee23 at 8:56 AM on July 19, 2011


Ventilation (either fans or windows) are required by code to lower humidity. Humidity damage can occur well before the point of a sustained steam fog.
posted by Mitheral at 9:59 AM on July 19, 2011


kabanas - wire up the switches so that turning on the light makes the fan go on, too.

That's genius! If I had any know-how whatsoever I would do that. I do not.
posted by kbanas at 10:21 AM on July 19, 2011


Can I ask a follow-on question? At what point of the shower should you turn on the fan: during or after? It seems too cold to shower with the fan on, but we do get a fair amount of mold/mildew (maybe due to buildup during the years before we got a working fan?)
posted by CathyG at 11:14 AM on July 19, 2011


CathyG - try it during and see if it makes things too cold. If you can't tolerate it, run the fan for a good ten minutes or more after the shower to clear out the steam. But strictly from a moisture-removal standpoint, it's probably best to run the fan during the shower.

I find that running the fan during my shower prevents a lot of condensation on the mirror so I don't have to wipe it off and things don't get too chilly for me -- but that's a preference thing (and specific to my bathroom layout, of course).
posted by nickmark at 11:23 AM on July 19, 2011


Mitheral has it. Actual code language (in California) is that the fan must be able to provide 5 complete air changes in the room per hour. Or provide an operable window.
posted by LionIndex at 11:34 AM on July 19, 2011


Now we have a nice new bathroom with a fan, and I love it and I am very happy and the amount of moisture that hangs around is noticeably lessened, except that my wife and step-daughter now refuse to use the fan, because their end goal in life is to DRIVE ME COMPLETELY INSANE.

Wire the fan so it's tied to the light switch. :D
posted by xedrik at 10:29 PM on July 19, 2011


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