What is bathroom exhaust? Well, it’s any air from your bathroom drawn out through a vent and exhausted out of the room. Building codes require most bathrooms to have a fan that draws air out of the room. This is often used for showers to prevent condensation, but has other functions as well. “Where does bathroom exhaust go,” you ask? It goes wherever you vent it to, obviously. The more important question is “where should the exhaust go?”
Building codes are clear one where bathroom exhaust should go: “The air removed by every mechanical exhaust system shall be discharged to the outdoors. Air shall not be exhausted into an attic, soffit, ridge vent or crawl space. Exhaust shall terminate not less than 3 feet in any direction from openings into buildings.” (source)
In other words, it must be vented outside and the exhaust vents should never be less than 3 feet from any entrance to the house. It’s very straightforward, but some contractors may decide not to do so. Instead, they ignore the code and vent into the attic. Why? Various reasons. For one, venting to the outside means cutting a hole in the building for the vent to go through, which requires insulation, sealing, and other procedures. They rationalize that it will save time and money on the construction. In humid climates, they’ll sometimes tell themselves that since the air is already hot and humid, venting hot and humid air into the attic doesn’t really make a difference.
Yet, the code is clear that you should never vent bathroom exhaust – or any exhaust – into your attic. Why not?
Why You Should Never Vent Bathroom Exhaust Into Your Attic
This is one we see constantly. The biggest reason why you shouldn’t vent bathroom exhaust into your attic is because it’s moist, warm air. You know what likes moist, hot air? Mold. In hot, humid places like Florida, they rationalize that it makes no difference, but the presence of hot, humid air in the natural climate doesn’t justify it, because you should be taking every step to reduce the possibility of mold. In dry climates like here in Utah? The cool, dry air makes moisture condense faster, which means mold will build up faster. It’s a huge health risk for you.
In winter, when the moisture condenses in your attic, it will stay for a long time. There’s no heat to evaporate it, you see? That means the wood in your attic will spend several months being moist. This will cause the wood to rot, as well as deteriorate brickwork. If you vent moist air into your attic, you’re just speeding up the natural decomposition and ruining your home. Additionally, wet insulation loses its effectiveness. That means your attic will preserve less warm air in the winter, making your house cold. You’ll have to heat the attic more, costing you money.
Another problem with that? Ice dams. When hot air escapes your attic, it causes the snow on your roof to melt, which then flows down the roof and freezes into an ice dam. This causes a whole host of other problems that make your situation even worse!
3. Water Stains
Are you seeing brown stains on your roof? Those are water stains from the inside of your attic. Most people see water stains and assume that there’s a leak somewhere in the attic, but that’s not always the case. If it were a leak, the leak would start to cause a hole in your ceiling as it eats away at the materials. Instead, many water stains are the result of condensation. Compared to the other problems, this seems like a really minor problem, and it is. It’s ugly, but it doesn’t really damage your home too much. However, it’s usually a sign of bigger problems. Even if the ugly stains don’t bother you, you shouldn’t ignore it. Other problems will soon follow.
What Should I Do?
Well, the first step is to check out your ventilation system and make sure that it vents everything outside your house. If it isn’t, then call a contractor and have them redo the vents to make sure it is. While you’re having that corrected, you should check your attic for mold. Mold is a serious health risk and if you find mold in your attic, or anywhere in your house, it must be removed right away.
We can help you with that! Alpine Cleaning and Restoration are both general contractors and have a team specially trained for mold removal. If you have either of these problems, we can help you fix it. Given the long-term damage and negative health affects, this isn’t a problem you want to wait on. If you suspect your bathroom exhaust might not be venting to the outside as building codes require, get in touch with us today. Let us help you fix up your ventilation system before it’s failings cost you more money in repairs and health bills.