Ventilation problems (and fixes) for a successful bathroom remodel

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I recently sat with an architectural design consultant to discuss what the best ventilation strategy might be in a remodel she was doing. To come up with an effective strategy required us to first consider what the end objective of the remodel was. Were the property owners resolving water damage? Was a high-volume shower or steam room being added to the space? Was the customer upgrading to sell? 

In this case, the owners were looking to downsize to a smaller home, which meant modernizing their current home to prepare it for sale at the highest possible price.

The double trouble of moisture

There are two types of water damage that can occur in a bathroom. Direct wetting from a leaky tub or shower, and water vapor damage that presents itself as mold or mildew.

Problem number one, direct wetting (ie. water leaks), can damage subsurface materials like floors, walls and supports. Wetted materials will also attract insects such as termites, carpenter ants and cockroaches. These insects can consume underflooring and cross timbers remarkably fast, so resolving water leaks should be priority number one. 

Problem number two, which we see more frequently, is damage from water vapor. Water vapor’s impact on a house is one of the least understood issues in home ownership. Let me explain…

The water vapor-mold connection

Water vapor is the gaseous form of H2O. Think clouds vs. rain. The transition process from the vapor state to the liquid state is called condensation1. Water vapor is the reason you might have mold growth in and around your bathroom area. Water vapor and mold go hand in hand, which is why it’s critical every bathroom have an exhaust fan that actually moves moist or polluted air out of the bathroom. If there is mold present, the condensation of water vapor is the most likely culprit.

If the exhaust fan is not working or not present, condensation will settle on the bathroom surface enabling mold and mildew to grow. In addition to structural damage, the bigger concern with mold is the health problems it presents. Moisture, mold and mildew can cause wellness issues from coughing, wheezing and stuffy noses to irritation of the eyes, throat and skin.

Adding a luxury high-volume shower or steam room to your bath area? Both of these amenities can increase the volume of water vapor that will migrate throughout your home. The resulting moisture should be removed at the source, which means your exhaust fans should turn on automatically or even before the moisture is released into the bathroom space.

Health sells

Renovating to sell your home? While paint, carpets, and countertops are important, having a ventilation or fresh air strategy is often a differentiating feature to potential buyers. All things the same, a home with a clean air strategy can resonate with a buyer long after they’ve seen five different granite countertops. 

Back to my discussion with the architectural designer…

What did we decide regarding the best ventilation strategy for her remodeling job? We decided on the WhisperGreen Select fan with continuous run and a condensation sensor automated trigger. This solution gives the homeowner likely the quietest fan on the market with a variable speed ECM motor that guarantees 80 CFM (cubic feet per minute) in the high position. Plus, the scalable low-speed capability meets indoor air quality requirements set by the American Society for Heating Refrigeration and Engineering (ASHRAE) standards for overall indoor air quality. 

By adding the condensation sensor module to the fan, excessive water vapor will automatically trigger the fan on, into the high-speed position, assuring excess moisture is removed before it can condensate on a surface. For a few extra dollars the homeowners are adding an appealing and unique selling feature: an indoor air quality solution that will resonate with potential buyers dealing with compromised breathing caused by mold or mildew.

1 www.britannica.com

High powered IAQ solutions for easy remodeling and healthy living

WhisperGreen Select™ provides customizable exhaust fan and fan-light combinations for clean and healthy indoor environments. The first IoT fan product available for integration into artificial intelligence (AI) air quality strategies.

WhisperFit® EZ is an affordable choice for delivering quiet, energy efficient exhaust ventilation for anyone looking to quickly and easily replace an existing fan from below the ceiling.

WhisperRecessed LED is the designer’s choice for high performance ventilation that hides a powerful yet quiet 80 CFM fan behind an elegant recessed LED light.

WhisperWarm™ is ideal for adding room-warming comfort to chilly mornings, perfect for senior living properties and homes.

WhisperControl Condensation Sensor Plus uses advanced sensor technology to monitor humidity and temperature, anticipate dew point, and automatically turn your fan on/off to control moisture.

Author

Ken Nelson- BPI Certified Building Analyst & Channel Sales Manager, Indoor Air Quality, Panasonic Life Solutions

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