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bathroom vent fan

Where’s the Best Place for a Bathroom Vent Fan?

When it comes to designing a home or undertaking renovations, there’s a lot of decisions to make. Some options, like tile and paint colors, countertop materials, and flooring are overwhelming. You’ll have to look at them for years! But, it can be fun to spend hours carefully picking and choosing to get the aesthetic of your home’s interior just how you want. Then there are the more practical, hidden aspects of home design that become a major part of your day to day life and the overall comfort of your home. For example, deciding the best place for a bathroom vent fan isn’t exciting. But it’s an important decision you’ll need to make.


Why are Bathroom Vent Fans Important?

Bathroom vent fans are not going to be gracing the covers of interior design magazines, but they are a practical and crucial part of a bathroom. A well-installed and properly working bathroom vent pulls odors and heat out of the room and keeps mirrors fog-free. They can have nice options like automatic humidity detection, heat, and even Bluetooth capabilities to play your favorite tunes while you get ready in the morning or unwind after a long day.

Bathroom vent fans also serve the very important job of removing excess moisture from the air after showers or baths to help prevent the growth of mold and mildew, which can lead to structural damage. While they’re not on the top of anyone’s wish list, nor do you find television renovation shows gushing over their choice of bathroom fan vent, these little fans work hard to keep you comfortable. Below are some tips on how to best place a bathroom vent fan, ensuring it works efficiently in any bathroom space.


Proper Power

First things first: when it comes to deciding where to place a bathroom vent fan, you need to make sure you’ve got the right fan for your space. Bathrooms are, generally speaking, the same when it comes to having a sink, tub/shower, and toilet. However, the square footage can vary and require vent fans of different levels of power. The amount of air a bathroom vent fan can move is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). Home improvement center Lowe’s recommends the following formula to figure out how many CFM your bathroom vent fan should be: 


Length x Width x Height x 0.13 = Number of CFM (round up to nearest 10)


This can be a good guideline to make sure you don’t end up with an underpowered fan. 


Location, Location, Location

Here are some guidelines when it comes to selecting the right spot for a bathroom vent fan:

  • Avoid the Obvious – As showers and baths are the main source of heat and humidity in a bathroom, it seems like installing the vent fan directly over the shower/tub is the best choice, right? Unfortunately, this may be the worst spot in the room. A vent fan directly over a bathtub can lead to chilly shower experiences while it’s running. As it pulls air into itself it exposes the vent fan directly to water, which can cause damage to the unit. This kind of positioning can also make it harder for the vent fan to pull fresh air into the bathroom.
  • Dodge the Ductwork – Another no-no for bathroom vents is placing the fan so it is in “competition” with the air vent connected to your HVAC system. When air is entering the bathroom through the air vent only to be sucked up by the bathroom vent fan, it can lead to the frustrating experience of wasted air.
  • One Foot In, One Foot Out – Ideally, you should place a bathroom fan in the ceiling about 1 foot from the shower and between the shower and the door. Aiming for the space in between the shower and bathroom door gives the vent fan the best chance to remove the humid, unwanted air as well as pull in fresh air from the rest of the house. This doesn’t have to be an exact placement, and vent fan options like lighting will also impact placement, but consider this a strong guideline for finding the sweet spot for a vent fan. 
  • No Need to Hide – A bathroom vent fan is not an “out of sight, out of mind” part of a bathroom. To operate correctly it needs to have plenty of space around it to best move air through the bathroom space. Trying to hide the vent fan by putting it behind cabinets, or stacking things like towels or bathroom supplies near it can impede airflow and make the vent fan struggle to work.


Choose Wisely

Bathroom vent fans are never going to take center stage when it comes to the thrilling world of home improvement. However they can be a trusty and dependable way to bring more air comfort to a bathroom space and a home overall. Take care when selecting a bathroom air vent. Different sized bathrooms have different CFM requirements. Try to install the bathroom air vent between the shower area and the entrance door for best air movement. Take these things into account and when the time comes to install or replace a vent fan in one of your bathrooms, you will be well-prepared to make all the right choices. 

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