Installing a bathroom exhaust fan out of a window
December 1, 2010 2:41 PM   Subscribe

How can I vent a bathroom exhaust fan out of the window without it looking hideous?

I can not break the outer wall. I must vent thru the window.

I'm considering either an in-window fan, like this one, but am unsure how to run power to the fan while still allowing the window to operate, or a traditional ceiling fan, running the duct work above the ceiling and out the window, but I can't imagine an attractive way to pull this off.

Again, I'd like full functionality of my window and have it look good.
posted by mizrachi to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you start by telling us what kind of window it is?
posted by davey_darling at 3:05 PM on December 1, 2010

Also, do you own? Rent? Can you modify the window or remove a pane of glass? Or must you vent through the "open" portion?
posted by misterbrandt at 3:10 PM on December 1, 2010

Response by poster: The window is a double hung vertical slider, typical of nyc apartments.
posted by mizrachi at 3:10 PM on December 1, 2010

Response by poster: I own. And can modify the window. Vent can go through the glass if need be.
posted by mizrachi at 3:11 PM on December 1, 2010

My general strategy would be: remove a pane of glass at the top of the window, and glaze in a blank panel (some kind of plastic panel maybe?) that has a hole cut in it to accept a through-wall fan.

Depending on the size of the lites and the depth of the window jamb, you could build yourself a little soffit the height of the topmost row of lites, and the depth of the jamb, and use that cavity to conceal the fan body.
posted by misterbrandt at 3:17 PM on December 1, 2010

Response by poster: I can see how the fan, linked above, would fit nicely into a removed or cut-away section of the window, but I do not know how I can still freely operate the window while simultaneouly allowing it to be hard wired to power.
posted by mizrachi at 3:20 PM on December 1, 2010

I was assuming that you would allow the upper portion to remain fixed while the lower portion could still be operable. But I suppose you could leave a loop of wire (in BX sheathing?) feeding the fan? That goes against your "look good" dictum.
posted by misterbrandt at 3:32 PM on December 1, 2010

Not what you asked, I know, but we solved the problem of ventilating our ductless bathroom by installing a ceiling fan with very short blades and not bothering with an exhaust setup.
posted by desuetude at 3:38 PM on December 1, 2010

Response by poster: Venting into the space between my ceiling and neighbor's sub floor seems like a mistake, mold encouraging and wood rotting, plus I doubt even legal. But believe me, I've considered it.

In terms of the loop of wire idea, that's on the right track. We have closet doors that power an overhead light when opened. The doors open, a button releases, power. So if this same idea could be reversed it could work. Window closed, button depressed, power. Window open, button released, no power. But I've never heard of such a solution.

Another option would be to run a traditional ceiling fan, with duct work that cold exit the ceiling and out an opening in the window frame, somehow. The ducting would have to be very small around and whatever built to hide it between the ceiling and window or window frame would also have to look finished. But, again, I've never heard of anything quite like this short of cutting my window in half and building an ugly box with duct buried inside.
posted by mizrachi at 3:51 PM on December 1, 2010

Wouldnt it be easier to just open the window aL ITTLE BIT EVERYTIME YOU TAKE A SHOWER?
posted by majortom1981 at 3:59 PM on December 1, 2010

Response by poster: majortom, this would be the logical solution, but it's a ground floor apartment and the more I open the window, the more directly I can be seen in my shower by tenants living on upper floors opposite this window.
posted by mizrachi at 4:05 PM on December 1, 2010

Some in-window fans allow you to close the window behind them:
The fan is permanently screwed into the frame. Whether this will work in your place depends on how deep your window frames are.
Here's another one:
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:42 PM on December 1, 2010

Response by poster: Yes, but neither of these fans seem hard wire-able. Running extension cords throughout the bathroom is not an ideal solution.
posted by mizrachi at 4:56 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think that you may have to accept that you will be unable to open the window all the way with the through-window fan installed.

With the smaller fan mounted as high as it can be in the upper portion of the window, you will likely still be able to open the bottom pane halfway. You should likely add stops so you will not accidentally bump the window into the fan housing.

The wiring from the fan would not move, so you wouldn't have to worry about doing anything special with it.

(note all of the above is null and void if the window in question is actually in your shower - if that is the case then don't put a fan in there!)
posted by davey_darling at 4:59 PM on December 1, 2010

how about putting a curtain up in front of the window so your neighbors can't see in when it's open?
posted by kenliu at 5:39 PM on December 1, 2010

This looks neat, but it's UK-only.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 6:03 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just realized that if you use a hard-wired solution you'd be running new wires anyway, so you could just install a new outlet in the right spot, and get a non-hard-wired fan.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 6:11 PM on December 1, 2010

You could install a ceiling fan with ductwork leading not to the window, but to a grille somewhere else within your place.

Then instead of having the fan suck air out of the bathroom, it would be set up to blow air into the the bathroom.

That way, when you turned the fan on with the bathroom door closed and the window open a crack, the fan would suck air through the grille, force it into the bathroom and out the window, essentially equivalently to what an exhaust fan in the window would do.
posted by jamjam at 7:20 PM on December 1, 2010

I think desuetude was talking about a normal circulating ceiling fan, not a venting fan installed in the ceiling.

I would really want to do this in a secure way, especially on the first floor. That means basically some kind of, oh, MDF that you put at the sill or top of the window and close the sash up against. Make sure you seal and/or paint the outside to guard against water damage. You'll also want some foam to stick into the sash where there's now a gap (typical 1x1 or 2x2 strips available for air conditioner installation), and perhaps something to chuck into the frame to prevent the sash from being raised from the outside. Then, you basically install the fan into that board as if it were a wall, which it now is.
posted by dhartung at 9:55 PM on December 1, 2010

I think desuetude was talking about a normal circulating ceiling fan, not a venting fan installed in the ceiling.

You're correct. Our window is a horizontal slider and it looks directly into our neighbors bathroom, so we used privacy glass. Post shower, we open it just a crack, turn on the fan, and make sure the bathroom door is open. It distributes the humidity outside/into the house enough to keep it from building up on the walls or encouraging mildew.
posted by desuetude at 10:16 PM on December 1, 2010

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