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Problems with Bathroom Exhaust Fans and Solutions

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The reasons for installing bathroom exhaust fans are many including…

Firstly they remove the odors that can make bathrooms unpleasant.

Then they remove steam and moisture from showering and bathing.

If these are not removed you will be left with steamed up windows, and mirrors where you can’t dry your hair, shave or make up your face. This dampness will leave your tiles and faucets streaky with condensation, floors slippery, and lead to paint peeling off the ceilings, and anything stored in the bathroom either mildewed or corroded, depending on what it is made of.

Besides this damage and inconvenience, there is the health hazard of dust mites and other insects breeding in the moist atmosphere, and mold spores causing asthma and allergies. All these problems bathroom exhaust fans are intended to prevent, and mostly they do. However, from time to time problems arise that prevent bathroom exhaust fans from working with optimum efficiency. Here are a few problems that may arise:

• Ineffectiveness of bathroom exhaust fans. They simply do not remove all the steam and moisture as they should.

• Sometimes exhaust fans make all kinds of noises, such as squeaking, rattling, roaring or even vibrating.

• It has been known problem for exhaust fans to blow dust into bathrooms.

• It sometimes happens that water drips from the bathroom exhaust fan’s grill. This usually happens in winter when it is cold. It is possible that water stains also appear on the ceiling, seeping from above.

• A sharp, cold draught can blow down from the grills of bathroom exhaust fans, even when they are switched off.

It is always worthwhile having bathroom exhaust fans in your bathrooms, and most of these common problems are fairly easily rectified.

Solutions to Problems

If the fan is not working efficiently the first thing to do is to check for dirt. Turning off the power supply, remove the grill, pry the motor plate loose, or unscrew it if that is how it is fastened, and lower the motor. Clean out all the parts you can and use a specially designed duct brush to clean out the entrance to the duct. You may have to go up into the ceiling if you think there is a serious blockage in the ducting, undo it and clean it out. When the bathroom exhaust fans is reassembled and the power back on, check at the wall or roof cap to see whether air is flowing out, and check whether air is being sucked into the vent from the bathroom end. You should have no tight elbows or bends in the ducting. The straighter and smoother it runs, the better the airflow. There should also be no narrowing of the duct at any stage. When your bathroom exhaust fan’s in operation, there should be sufficient fresh air intake in the bathroom or else the moist air won’t be sucked out. See if the system works better when the door is open. If so, you need either to leave the window slightly open, or you could put in a grill or vent in the door.

Dirt can also be responsible for all kinds of noises and vibrations. These can also be caused by bends in the ducting in the roof space, or a duct that lifts and sags over the wooden roof beams. It should be supported so that it runs straight and level. You can also check that the motor is not loose in its housing and that the fan is running smoothly. You may need a new bearing or even a new motor. These are not much less expensive than a whole new system, but very much easier to replace.

If your exhaust fan’s blowing dust into the bathroom, it may be dirty, or it may have come loose from its ducting, or it may not even have ducting at all. No ducting can also result in your roof space becoming moist and dripping, and that could be what is making wet patches on your ceiling.

In winter the temperature in the attic or roof space can get so cold that there is condensation in the ducting and that drips back into the bathroom through the grill. This moisture can also freeze the louvers in the vents so that they won’t close and so you get those cold draughts. The best solution for these problems is to insulate the duct pipes to protect them from cold. Insulation also makes a big improvement in noise reduction.

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