If you are a homeowner in The Durham Region, there are obviously many things to be aware of when tackling that next big bathroom renovation. This post will cover one of the most important (and often overlooked) issues when it comes to bathrooms.
Just because an exhaust fan is visible in the bathroom, does not necessarily mean that it is properly vented to the exterior of the home. In an ideal world, the duct of the exhaust fan will be vented to the exterior of the house to allow the moist air to quickly leave the home where it would otherwise cause damage over time. If the fan is vented through the attic (which is a cold zone in the winter), then the duct should be insulated to prevent condensation and moisture from forming, and possibly dripping from the fan housing back into the bathroom.
The reason that I felt it was important to cover this topic is because we've seen a number of bathrooms where care was not taken to ensure that the exhaust fan was properly vented. On a recent Pickering bathroom renovation we found that while the builder of the home did install an exhaust fan, they did not bother to vent it anywhere, and left the homeowner with a bunch of moldy insulation. Essentially, whenever the exhaust fan was turned on, electricity was being wasted because the moist air from the bathroom had nowhere to go. This isn't the only time we've encountered this either. We've been in more than a few new homes that lacked proper venting for the bathroom exhaust fan, if there was even one installed in the first place. A bathroom should always have a properly installed exhaust fan in order to increase the longevity of the bathroom and promote good health.
Depending on the location of the bathroom in the home, there are a couple of ways that you can vent your bathroom fan properly. If the bathroom is directly below an attic, the best way to vent the fan would be by adding a roof vent cap with a back-draft damper. When properly installed, this roof termination will be watertight and will ensure that moist air is quickly evacuated from the bathroom. In cases where you have a basement bathroom that is not directly below an attic, you need to find a way to vent the fan through an exterior wall. Typically this would be done by drilling an appropriately sized hole through a rim joist and installing an appropriate duct termination on the exterior wall of the home.
A soffit vent (another way of venting a bathroom fan) should generally be avoided if possible because it could create a situation where moist air from the duct is simply pulled back into the attic. If there is no other option for venting the bathroom fan you can use the soffit vent as a last resort - just be aware that it is not as effective a venting option as venting through a roof or outside an exterior wall.
Also - an exhaust fan should never be vented by the plumbing stack - this can cause sewer gases to flow back into your bathroom.