Buying an Exhaust Fan

Who doesn’t love a hot, steamy shower?! But as luxurious as they may be, that steam can wreak havoc with our bathrooms. An exhaust fan helps channel air so that an accumulation of moisture doesn’t settle in the bathroom. Otherwise, the concentration of humidity and moisture can cause mold and mildew — things we don’t want in our house, much less — the bathroom. Because, Eww!

Buying an exhaust fan for a bathroom may seem to be a no brainer. But there are some things to consider. A ventilation fan is a low to moderately priced investment that can save you tons of money down the road…. Not to mention — save tons of time from constantly scrubbing mildew out of the bathroom shower.


So first — size matters with an exhaust fan. Your fan should have one cfm for every square foot of floor space in your bathroom (that translates to cubic feet per minute — cfm). For bathrooms that are larger than 100 square feet, additional cfm recommendations include 50 cfm for every toilet; 50 cfm for every shower, bath, or combo; and 100 cfm for every whirlpool. Underestimating your cfm may render your exhaust fan useless.


Noise is a consideration, too — especially for bathrooms adjacent to bedrooms and two people are on different sleep schedules! So look for fans that will work with the noise level appropriate for your lifestyle. A sone is a scale that represents the degree of loudness, so a fan that is rated between 0.5 and 1.2 sones is exceptionally quiet. Exhaust fans rated 1.2 – 2 are good; those rated above 4.0 sones will be very noisy.

Other Options

Exhaust fans come with many options, including some luxury options that a homeowner who is remodeling may want to consider:

  • Built-in Heaters, which add extra warmth to the room — great when getting ready on cold, winter mornings!
  • Night Lights, which help with those nocturnal trips to the loo!
  • Overhead Lighting, which adds additional functionality to your exhaust fan — overhead lighting can be switch or motion activated.
  • Motion Activation automatically turns the exhaust fan on when someone enters the room, which is great when your hands are full of shaving cream, and you realized you forgot to switch on the fan!
  • Humidity sensing exhaust fans are helpful when there is a high humidity level in the house; they automatically come on to help adjust the environment.
  • Energy-efficient exhaust fans are an option too, and in order to earn the EnergyStar label, the fan must be certified by the Home Ventilating Institute or the Air Movement and Control Association. These fans use 60% less energy than their counterparts.

Choosing an exhaust fan can be…. exhausting. But your interior designer and home remodeling contractor can guide you to make the right decision for your home and lifestyle!