Bathroom fans are a relatively simple device, but they serve an important role in your home. The purpose of a bathroom exhaust fan is to circulate air in and out of the bathroom which provides fresh air and removes humid air. Problems with bath fans are not always immediately noticed, but usually the first sign is a noisy fan, mildew buildup or moisture on the walls. These problems, if left unresolved, can turn into bigger problems that may reach deep into your wallet.
Some of the less expensive fans are quite noisy even when new, but a buzzing or rattling sound is normally caused by worn out bearings. When this occurs, it is time to replace the fan.
Moisture on your walls after a shower often demonstrates that the exhaust fan is not able to expel the moisture from the bathroom. If the fan is not designed for the size of your bathroom, replace it with one that meets the specifications for your bathroom as described on the box of the new exhaust fan. Keep in mind that if your family likes long and hot showers, even a fan specified for your bathroom will not prevent moisture on the walls.
Plugged Vent Pipe
There are times when insects or rodents make their way into the vent pipes. These little critters make nests that go deep into the pipes. If the fan motor is operating correctly, but you still have moisture problems, check the vent pipe for obstructions.
Vent Hood Problems
If the flap on the roof vent does not work properly, you will have cold air pushing into your bathroom or heat escaping. Sometimes, the screen covering the vent hood will fall off allowing debris or small animals to enter the vent pipe and to cause trouble. There is a flap that keeps air from flowing back into the bathroom viewable from the vent hood. This gravity-operated flap should freely move with the slightest amount of back draft. There is another similar flap attached to the fan box itself which serves the same purpose.
Hidden problems may cause just as much damage but over longer lengths of time. The flex hose or vent pipe may disconnect from the vent hood on the exterior of your house. It may look and act like it is working, however, in your attic you may find mold and mildew. Check the connection a couple of times a year. The exterior vent hoods are often not made very well, and after time, the hose may separate from it. If the original installer used duct tape instead of metal tape, the tape will eventually dry out allowing moisture into undesirable areas.
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