5 Ways to Improve Bathroom Ventilation

A bathroom's ventilation rate is a critical consideration in preventing mold, condensation, and mildew. Here are five ways to improve ventilation in your bathroom.

Cameron Bates
Updated Oct 17, 2022
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5 min read

Due to hot showers and warm baths, your bathroom is often the wettest and most humid space in your home – and with humidity comes a heap of potential problems. Whether it be mold growth, funky smells, or warped walls, excess moisture in your bathroom can cause some serious damage.

That’s why your bathroom's ventilation system is so important. For homeowners, proper bathroom ventilation isn’t just a matter of comfort and safety, it also helps prevent unsightly mold and mildew from destroying your walls and fixtures.

If you think you’re having bathroom ventilation problems, here are some of the best ways to improve your ventilation system.

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How to improve bathroom ventilation

There are several ways to improve your bathroom ventilation with all of the changes having a varying impact on the room's air circulation. Here are some of the improvements that will have the biggest impact on your ventilation system.

Choose the right bathroom fan

Your city's building codes likely require you to have a bathroom fan and you must pick the right one. The main purpose of a bathroom exhaust fan is to remove moisture from the room, remove odor and maintain a clean environment. A bath fan that is too large will overpower the room and be inefficient, while a fan that is too small will not adequately cool or circulate the air.

A bathroom ventilation fan is rated and sized based on air movement, which is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM rating. The general rule is that you need at least 1 CFM per square foot of your room. So, to accurately size a bathroom fan you will need to calculate the CFM.

Consider the location of the fan

Along with selecting the right size and type of exhaust ventilation fan, you will also need to make sure you install the fan in the right spot. Your fan should be placed above the area where there is the most moisture. This will often be above the shower/ bathtub base, but if the bathroom has both a separate bathtub and shower, then you should place the fan somewhere in between the two.

You should not install your bathroom fan too close to an HVAC vent. This could hinder the bathroom fan’s ability to take in the humid air and properly ventilate the room.

Make sure to run the fan for longer

One of the simplest solutions for improving your bathroom ventilation is to run the fan for long enough to fulfill its job. This means letting your fan run throughout your entire bath or shower and then for at least 20 minutes after you’ve finished. You could also use a humidity sensor that will detect the room's humidity level and turn on the fan when required. This will ensure that the space is fully aired out and excess moisture has been removed.

Not allowing your bathroom vent fan to run for long enough and turning it off after you’ve finished your shower can result in a build-up of moisture leading to things like mold and mildew.

Utilize cross drafts

To avoid having your bathroom ceiling fan do all the ventilation work, you want to use other methods to air out the room. One way to improve your bathroom ventilation is by taking advantage of cross drafts.

Cross drafts allow the cold air to replace the warm air in the room and speed up the ventilation process. Cross drafts can be achieved in several ways whether it be having an open window in your bathroom or leaving the bathroom door open once you have finished your shower. Having a gap between your floor and the bottom of the door will also create a bathroom cross draft.

Hire a professional

While there are some things that you can do yourself (DIY) to improve bathroom ventilation such as cleaning your fan or using cross drafts, many improvements will require help from a professional HVAC contractor.

Home improvements that involve electrical wiring or ductwork such as installing a new bathroom fan should be done by a professional. It’s going to cost you a bit extra, but you’ll have peace of mind that the job is done correctly. Having a qualified professional complete the job will also ensure that you have the right-sized fan and it is being installed in the right location.

Find out how much it costs to have a bathroom fan installed.

Signs of poor bathroom ventilation

Mold & mildew

The main sign that your bathroom has poor ventilation is the appearance of mold and mildew. If your bathroom is not properly ventilated, it becomes moist and humid which is the perfect environment for mold to grow.

Mold is an incredibly hazardous indoor air pollutant and can be the cause of serious health issues such as respiratory ailments and allergic reactions. The damages made from mold can also cost you thousands of dollars to repair.

Mold and mildew often like to grow in dark, damp, hard-to-find places such as above ceiling tiles, behind drywall, or in the attic. So, even if there is no mold visible in your bathroom, it could still be lurking unseen.

Bad odors

Our noses are great sensors of poorly ventilated bathrooms and in many cases, you will be able to tell if there is an issue by the smell. 

As previously mentioned, mold is a dangerous by-product of inadequate ventilation, and with mold there comes an unpleasant, stale, and musty smell. So, if you are getting that smell in your bathroom, then you probably need to improve your ventilation.

Misty bathroom mirror

One of the easiest ways to see If your bathroom is not properly ventilated is a misty mirror. A misty mirror will occur when there is excess moisture in the room due to the room’s humidity levels. Not only is a misty mirror an annoying hassle when you are trying to get ready, but it’s a tell-tale sign of poor bathroom ventilation.  

Why is proper bathroom ventilation important?

Your bathroom is likely to be the most humid space in your home, so having adequate ventilation is vital to get rid of the warm and moist air 

Having poor ventilation can allow the warm air to wreak havoc in your bathroom. Warm and moist air will not only create a perfect environment for mold growth but also cause damage to your light fixtures and surfaces. Poor ventilation can also leave your bathroom with a musty and stale smell that just will not go away.

Ensuring that your bathroom is properly ventilated is not just important in maintaining air quality and airflow but it will also help protect the space from mold growth and prolonged moisture build-up. 

So, if you are seeing any signs of poor bathroom ventilation, then make sure to use our tips or get in contact with a professional.

Hire a local pro to improve your bathroom's ventilation today