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Do I Need a Bathroom Extractor Fan?

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Do I Need a Bathroom Extractor Fan?

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Apr 15, 2022

Bathrooms create more steam and water vapour than any other room in your home, and without proper ventilation, this can turn lead to condensation spreading throughout your home and creating damp and mould problems in other rooms.  Often, the simplest and most effective way to improve bathroom ventilation is to fit an extractor fan, but it is important to choose a fan that is powerful enough to get the job done.

The danger of condensation from your bathroom

According to a recent report by the UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings (UKCMB), around 1 in 20 homes in the country suffer from significant damp problems with one of the most common problems being condensation damp.

Unlike penetrating or rising damp, which are caused by moisture getting into the building from outside, condensation damp is caused when warm, moist air comes into contact with a cool surface such as a window or wall.  You may have noticed droplets of water on your bedroom window in the morning, or on a bathroom mirror – that is condensation.  On surfaces like glass, condensation isn’t a problem, because it can simply be wiped away, however on walls and woodwork, the moisture from the air can soak through into the underlying material where it builds up to form damp patches where mould and mildew can grow.

Condensation causes Damp and mould

If damp is allowed to take hold, it can be difficult to get rid of.  It can be damaging to the fabric of your home – wood can rot, plaster can crumble, and wallpaper can peel – and it can also be damaging to the health of you and your family.  If black mould starts to grow in the damp areas, it can release allergenic spores into the air, and some varieties such as toxic black mould can also release mycotoxins that can cause long term health problems.

How bathroom extractor fans can help

Extractor fans in your bathroom function as the first line of defence to prevent condensation damp.  They work by drawing air out of the room before the water vapour it contains has a chance to condense into liquid and form damp.

Having an extractor fan in the bathroom draws air inwards toward the room from elsewhere in the property, and this negative pressure helps to prevent the moisture laden air from escaping into rooms where it can become damp.

The moist air is expelled outdoors through vents or ducts where it is not a problem.

Extractor fans in other rooms

Ideally, you should have extractor fans in all wet rooms in your home including utility rooms where washing machines or tumble driers are located, kitchens where significant amounts of water vapour are released when cooking, and even toilet rooms.  Different fans are suitable to different rooms depending on their size and the amount of moisture created.  A free home survey by one of our local ventilation specialists will provide you with information about the right kind of fan for each different room to ensure that you keep moisture levels under control throughout your property to avoid condensation damp and the problems it can lead to.

Alternatives to extractor fans

As previously mentioned, bathroom extractor fans are a first line of defence against condensation from bathing, but they might not necessarily be right for your needs.  In some cases, whole house ventilation systems are better – for example if you also have problems with radon in your area, or there are members of your household who suffer from allergies.

These systems work in two ways.  Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) systems such as ATMOS work by drawing fresh filtered air in from outside to replace the moisture laden air in your home and have a central unit that disperses the air into multiple rooms.  Mechanical Extract Ventilation systems are essentially a whole house extractor fan which can include heat recovery. 

Choosing the right bathroom extractor fan

When choosing your new bathroom extractor fan there are several things to think about, but the most important one is the power levels.  You need to choose a fan which has sufficient capacity for your levels of usage and the size of the room.  Extraction rates are measured in either 'Litres per Second' (L/s) or 'Metres Cubed per Hour' (m3/hr) and are the rate at which the fan moves volumes of air over time.

In some houses, an ultra-quiet fan is best – particularly for en suite bathrooms where you don’t want to disturb other people.

You might also want to think about how the fan is operated – whether it has a separate switch, is wired to the lighting, or whether it works automatically based on moisture levels in the air.

Get help from an expert

Choosing the right extractor fan for your bathroom can be confusing, but our local specialists are here to help.  Book a free home survey today, and we will visit your home to assess what solution is best for your needs.  Our ventilation experts will be able to talk to you about your needs and identify the source of condensation and mould in your property and provide you with advice about the best way to deal with it.

Need help with condensation, mould or damp problems?

One of our local experts will contact you to learn more about your problems, offer free expert advice and make recommendations for a permanent solution.

During the free survey we will

  • check Assess any condensation, damp or mould problems in your property
  • check Take readings of the relative humidity levels
  • check Identify any underlying problems and make recommendations for a permanent solution

Arrange a FREE Home Survey now