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July 23, 2012 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Why is my bathroom "sweating" after a shower?

I have a small bathroom with a shower stall and a exhaust fan. After I take a shower it looks like there's a little bit of water running down the walls outside of the shower. This bathroom always feels damp, but it's never foggy. Is this a case of not enough ventilation? What can I do to remedy this?
posted by aeighty to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One solution would be to take cold/cool/just-barely-lukewarm showers.
posted by Grither at 11:28 AM on July 23, 2012

The materials used to construct bathrooms - greenboard and high-gloss paint, basically - are designed with one primary goal in mind: to keep out water. Given the water-repelling properties of most bathroom walls, yeah, I think you're having an issue with shower-related steam not being vented away and clinging to the nearest cool, slick, impermeable surface (read: the walls).
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:28 AM on July 23, 2012

Yeah - if the air is already humid and you add steam, it has no place to go and collects into water droplets. We leave our bathroom door open and move any damp towels out to the hall or bedroom. I you have a window, open that up too.
posted by dawkins_7 at 11:29 AM on July 23, 2012

Yeah this is just condensation. The trick will be to try to circulate as much air through the bathroom as possible and minimize lingering dampness. A few solutions that may be more or less plausible depending on your situation

- have the fan on while you are showering and not just afterwards
- make sure the exhaust fan is clear of fuzz and other blockage and is functioning properly
- crack a window and/or keep the bathroom door open after your shower to let the air in your apartment normalize with the outside air
- if you have a bathroom window, consider a small out-blowing fan for after your showers
- squeegee off the walls and/or dry them off to get the immediate moisture off of them
- if you have the option, put damp towels in the dryer or on a line outside and don't leave them to air dry in the bathroom
- make sure shower curtain is fully extended and is not folded up and staying damp and/or mildewing
posted by jessamyn at 11:31 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Replace the fan with a higher CFM model.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:33 AM on July 23, 2012

Thanks everyone. This is an interior bathroom that doesn't have a window. I believe the exhaust fan is rated for a room at least twice the size of the bathroom.. and I do run it during my showers. How can I check whether the fan is indeed effective?
posted by aeighty at 11:45 AM on July 23, 2012

I lived in an apartment with a bathroom that had a fan but no window. Much the same problem that you're having. Got a dehumidifier and kept it running in there. Problem solved!
posted by gwenlister at 11:49 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Put the bathroom fan on a timer so when you leave the shower you can set it to run for 15 or 20 minutes to exhaust all the wet air
posted by Beacon Inbound at 11:54 AM on July 23, 2012

Keep the fan on for an hour or so after you shower. Or just leave it on while you're at work all day, you can run them basically non stop and they'll still last years and years.
posted by fshgrl at 11:54 AM on July 23, 2012

Do you take particularly long showers? In any event, as a test try showering with the door open and the fan on. If that eliminates the problem, you know it's a ventilation issue. I'd then check the fan for blockage - often it's just gunked up and easily cleaned.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:55 AM on July 23, 2012

The fan exhaust may well be blocked. This happens. They tend to pick up lint and dust bunnies which can accumulate. If you can access the exhaust, determine if the duct has any lint inside, or whether the flap(s) are capable of moving when the fan is underway.

New construction nowadays tends to include fan timers or even fans activated by a humidistat. This is another retrofit option.

Or just leave it on while you're at work all day, you can run them basically non stop and they'll still last years and years.

Look into what this may be doing to your heating/cooling costs, though. The average bathroom fan is supposed to be capable of replacing all the air in a bathroom eight times an hour; that air comes from your house. If that's air you've spent money to heat, cool, or dehumidify ... you may want to reconsider this.
posted by dhartung at 11:57 AM on July 23, 2012

I have the same problem with my bathroom - which is tiled floor to ceiling and although it has a fan and a small window, gets a lot of condensation.

But I recently bought one of these window vacuums- primarily because I live in a 1960s property with huge picture windows and patio doors and I wanted to cut down on window-cleaning time, and it's absolutely brilliant at getting the bathroom dry.

I use it to suck away the water from the glass shower stall and the tile. It takes seconds and it's made a massive difference to how quickly my bathroom dries out. I also still leave the window open after a shower though, because I like to get some fresh air in there. I appreciate that's not an option for you.
posted by essexjan at 11:58 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Someone recently told me the way to tell whether you bathroom fan is working is to put a kleenex or a piece of toilet paper up against the fan - the fan should be able to hold up the paper. If it doesn't, it's clogged, old, or otherwise insufficient.
posted by mskyle at 12:09 PM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I used to have this problem – small bathroom, no window, no exhaust fan. To keep things from getting completely rank in there, I would run a box fan in the doorway for a while after a shower to bring drier air in from the rest of the apartment. It helped considerably, though it wasn't the most elegant of solutions. (It was also the least of my problems w.r.t. that apartment. Good riddance.)
posted by Scientist at 12:12 PM on July 23, 2012

I am a lover of long hot showers. I currently live in an apartment in which the bathroom has no window and a less-than-powerful fan. My landlords have been sluggish to fix some of the larger problems in my apartment, so in the interest of not piling on yet another complaint...I just shower with the bathroom door open.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:18 PM on July 23, 2012

mskyle's tip about the kleenex is exactly what the pros do to test a fan - no fancy equipment needed!
posted by peep at 2:02 PM on July 23, 2012

how long are your showers? It sounds like you're just producing more steam than the fan can vent.

There's also a chance that your fan isn't actually venting at all.
posted by Kololo at 5:21 PM on July 23, 2012

Quick update, I purchased a very small dehumidifier from Amazon, and it has made a huge difference. It's collected a full 24oz container of whatever in a week. There's a definite difference in how the bathroom smells and how dry our towels are.

Thanks everyone!
posted by aeighty at 2:13 PM on August 26, 2012

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