3 Things To Consider When Upgrading Your Bathroom's Exhaust Fan

Compared to picking out new countertops and fixtures for your bathroom remodel, choosing a new exhaust fan seems nowhere near as exciting. However, proper ventilation is a must-have for any bathroom remodeling project. Otherwise, your beautiful new bathroom could end up constantly plagued by excess moisture, mold, and mildew, just to name a few issues.

As with any other aspect of your bathroom remodel, there are plenty of factors to think about when choosing a new exhaust fan for your bathroom. The following takes an in-depth look at three important considerations and how they'll affect your ultimate choice.

Fan Size

Size matters when it comes to bathroom exhaust fans. A fan that's too small for your bathroom will struggle to provide effective ventilation. An oversized fan will simply waste energy, adding unnecessary expense to your monthly utility bill.

To get an idea of what size of fan your bathroom needs, you'll need to know how much air needs to be moved. For small bathrooms, the Home Ventilating Institute recommends exhaust fans that move at least 1 cubic foot per minute (CFM) of air per square foot of bathroom space. If you have a 50 square foot bathroom, it'll need a fan that moves 50 CFM of air.

You'll also need to keep local building codes in mind when choosing your exhaust fan. Most building codes require exhaust fans capable of moving at least 50 CFM of air.


Exhaust fan intake placement is also crucial for effective ventilation. Intakes should always be located near prime moisture or odor-causing areas. For instance, you should always have an intake near the shower or tub to control excess moisture and another intake near the toilet to address odors.

Remember that hot, moisture-laden air always rises, so you'll need to have your intakes situated on the ceiling or high up on the wall.

Sound Levels

The last thing you need is for your finished bathroom remodel to be marred by a noisy exhaust fan. Fortunately, you can find a quiet fan by comparing its sone rating to other models. Whereas decibels measure sound pressure levels, sones deal with the perceived loudness of sounds.

A typical quiet bathroom exhaust fan operates at 1 to 1.5 sones. As a comparison, a typical television operates at 4 sones. The lower the sone level, the quieter the exhaust fan is in relation to other sounds. You can find fans with sone levels as low as 0.3 sones, making them exceptionally quiet.