Is my San Francisco bathroom required to have an exhaust fan?
February 24, 2014 10:49 AM   Subscribe

SF renter here. The bathroom in my apartment has a window but no fan. The window opens onto an outdoor space that gets little breeze. Recently in the humid weather, my shower has began to smell like mildew even though I've scrubbed it down. This SFGate article says SF bathrooms with showers or tubs are required to have a mechanical fan. Is this only for newly-built houses or does this apply to all homes?

Not sure when my apartment was built but I'd assume 1950s or '60s. I'd like to know if my landlord is breaking some sort of code OR if not, what else I can do to ventilate my foggy bathroom.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
I don't know about legalities, but if you have a window, can you just stick a small fan in there blowing out, to add air circulation?
posted by brainmouse at 10:51 AM on February 24, 2014

Great question. I lived into one of those apartments, and the bathroom was always gross. I kept the window open pretty much all the time. I am guessing your window is actually *in* the shower so you can't install a fan, but you could probably wall-mount a fan somewhere else in the bathroom to blow air out the door. And bleach your shower on the regular.

Also I'd check very carefully any interior walls adjacent to the bathroom to make sure there is no mold/mildew on them or on your stuff.
posted by radioamy at 10:54 AM on February 24, 2014

Oh also the SF Tenants Union might be able to answer your question.
posted by radioamy at 10:55 AM on February 24, 2014

At least until a couple years ago, by code if your bathroom had a window that opened a certain amount of square footage, you didn't need a fan. The code requires that there is some form of ventilation, but that can be either a window or an exhaust fan.

Just because the code changes, doesn't necessarily mean that current code requirements apply to your building - otherwise they'd be in there ripping out wiring and electrical fixtures every 3 years. Existing buildings, as long as they were approved for original construction by some jurisdiction, are "up to code" by definition. If there are additions or significant renovations, that's when current code requirements kick in and things need to be upgraded.
posted by LionIndex at 11:22 AM on February 24, 2014

Not sure about SF codes, but the dehumidifier below kept my bathroom from growing the weird yellow Berkeley mold in a similar situation (no fan, couldn't leave window open for security reasons).
Eva-dry (Edit: fixed link.)
posted by ktkt at 11:42 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nope. Window or fan. That's pretty much EVERYWHERE.

Try the dehumidifier first. My bathroom in Oakland had an unopenable window in the bathroom. It was, no lie, 30 feet above the commode and it was a transome window that opened onto the roof. The brass lever had stopped working in the 1800's and so I had some light, but no circulation.

I had to mop the walls twice a week to keep the rivulets of sweating, old, rusty, decomposing layers of wallpaper and paint from looking like the Amityville Horror.

I really did love that apartment though.

So try that little humidifier, also use Tilex to get rid of the mildew. Lysol also does a good job of it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:50 PM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I lived in SF for twelve years at five diffferent places and not one bathroom had an exhaust fan - one bathroom didn't have a fan or a window - so I'm going to assume that older buildings are grandfathered.

Window fans are nice because they are relatively cheap and reversible.
posted by vapidave at 2:12 PM on February 24, 2014

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