Do Bathroom Fans Remove Smells? (What Actually Happens)

Do Bathroom Fans Remove Smells

Bathroom fans are an important part of keeping your home healthy and smelling fresh. Many odors come from the bathroom after usage, and most of the time, we don’t want them sticking around. But do bathroom fans actually remove smells or just circulate them around?

Bathroom fans remove smells by sucking the moisture and humidity out of the bathroom and pushing it outside. This helps get rid of any odors that may be lingering in the bathroom. They also help prevent mold and mildew from growing in the bathroom by replacing old stale air with fresh air.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how bathroom fans work and what they do to help remove smells. We’ll also give you some tips on how to get the most out of your bathroom fan.

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

A bad odor in your bathroom could be embarrassing, especially if you live with a lot of other people. Besides turning on the exhaust fan in your bathroom, we have a few products that should help you.

Here are our favorite products to deodorize your bathroom:

1. Scented candles: These not only improve the smell of your bathroom but also are visually aesthetic.

2. Air freshener aerosol spray: After using the bathroom, these can immediately cover any odor.

3. Oil diffuser with essential oils: Perfect for a more natural method of dissipating any odors.

Removing the Smell

Leaving an odor behind in the bathroom could be awkward, especially if there is someone waiting to use it. Luckily, you can turn on the exhaust fan to remove the smell, let’s get into the details!

What Do Bathroom Fans Do?

Bathroom exhaust fans extract the excess moisture, humidity, and odors from the air of your bathroom. It also helps to remove the water vapor that builds up on your wall and mirror in the bathroom.

Bathroom exhaust fans are essential not only to improve the air quality of your bathroom but also to prevent mold and mildew from damaging the room and the house.

You might not see the damage immediately but not using a bathroom fan could cause serious damage in 10 years (or less). 

Do Bathroom Fans Work for Smells?

An exhaust fan is designed to extract moisture and humidity from the air, and while doing this it also is very effective at extracting any odors or smells that might be lingering in your bathroom. 

The odors are literally vented out with the air and vented out the roof of the house through an outside outlet.

If you want to dissipate a smell in your bathroom, you can turn on the exhaust fan for 10 – 15 minutes. Afterward, your bathroom should be full of fresh air.

Do Bathroom Fans Work for Odors?

Bathroom fans work exceptionally well to remove odors from the bathroom. It does not physically remove the odor from the air, but it vents all the air from the room, making room for new fresh air.

A bathroom exhaust fan is not the same as a dehumidifier, which removes moisture from the air. An extractor fan vents out the air filled with moisture and any odors to make room for fresh, dry air. 

Do Bathroom Exhaust Fans Remove Odors?

Bathroom exhaust fans do remove odors, although that’s technically not what they are designed for. They are manufactured to vent the moisture and humidity out of the air in your bathroom.

The steam that rises from the water when you shower or bath has to be vented out of your bathroom.

While the exhaust fan vents this air, it also dissipates any lingering odors or smells in your bathroom.  

Why Should You Use an Exhaust Fan in a Bathroom? 

You should use an exhaust fan in a bathroom to vent out the moisture, humidity, and odors from your bathroom. If not, mold and mildew will start to grow on your ceiling and surfaces in your bathroom.

Breathing in mold spores can be a serious health risk, especially to people who suffer from asthma or any respiratory issues.

Mold can also cause structural damage if you have wooden beams in your ceilings.

Do Bathroom Extractor Fans Remove Smells?

While removing the humidity and moisture from your bathroom, extractor fans also remove any smells in your bathroom. After only a few minutes, your bathroom is full of fresh air. 

The extractor fan literally vents the air out of your bathroom, and since air is constantly flowing, fresh air enters your bathroom with a clean smell.

That’s how an extractor fan removes smells from the air. 

What Are Exhaust Fans Used for in a Bathroom?

Exhaust fans are used to vent out the moisture, humidity, and odors from a bathroom. It is also used to clean the water vapor that collects on the mirror and walls after a shower. If an exhaust fan is not used, mold would start to grow in your bathroom.

Mold and mildew could be detrimental to your health and the structural integrity of your home. Have you seen how water collects on your mirror after a shower?

Now imagine that amount of moisture going into your walls and into your window frame every time you shower. 

Key signs of mold growing in your bathroom may include rotting of wooden structures near your bathroom and the plaster on your walls and ceilings crumbling.

Black mold especially has serious health hazards.

Why is Your Vent Smelly?

If you turn on your exhaust fan and a bad smell wafts into your bathroom, you might assume that it is coming from the vent, but actually, it might be coming from somewhere else.

Should Bathroom Vent Fans Smell?

Your bathroom fan vent should not have a weird or bad smell, and if it does, you should investigate the cause. Sometimes the smell is not even coming from your vent but from your plumbing.

One of the most common reasons for a bad smell coming from your vent is blocked plumbing. When water and waste build up in your pipes, bacteria start to grow and emit that ‘foul’ smell. 

When you turn on the exhaust fan to extract the moisture, you are pulling these smells from your plumbing.

Should I Leave Bathroom Fans On?

You should not leave your bathroom fan on permanently, as exhaust fans are known to catch fire when left on too long. Fox59 news even reported on this, warning viewers to not leave the fan on permanently.

A fire can ignite in your bathroom fan if you run it nonstop since your fan is sucking in dust, dirt, hair, and so much more.

These objects can build up and get trapped in the fan, causing the motor to heat up and ignite a spark.

Sewer Smell When Bathroom Fan Is On

Most often, the sewer smell that surfaces when you turn your exhaust fan on is not emitting from the fan at all. It’s likely coming from your plumbing, and this smell is a sign to check for blockages and buildup in your pipes.

Dirt, hair, soap, waste, and other products that get used in the bathroom stick to the sides of your pipes, eventually causing mold to grow in your pipes.

When you turn on your exhaust fan, these smells get pulled from your plumbing.

Bad Smell From the Bathroom Exhaust Fan

If a bad smell is coming from the bathroom exhaust fan, it’s most likely that your plumbing is either blocked or has some faults, like loose pipe connections or improperly sealed toilets.

Another reason could be the improper positioning of your exhaust vent.

According to the IRC (International Residential Code) in section P3103.5, your vent terminal should not be less than 4 feet from any other window or door, as this will not allow “fresh” air to come into your bathroom when the fan is on.

How Do I Stop by the Bathroom Vent From Smelling?

If you notice a bad smell constantly coming from your fan, it’s most likely a blockage or build-up in your plumbing. To try and clear the plumbing, you can make a mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and hot water and let that sit in your drain for 15 minutes.

If the smell continues when you turn on your exhaust fan, you should contact a plumber to check for blockages in your drain and also to check all your fittings and pipes are secure. 

If the smell continues still, you should contact a carpenter to check that your exhaust vent is installed correctly.

More Information About Bathroom Vents

Bathroom extractor fans and vents are essential to any bathroom, but you might have some questions about how it works and why it’s needed. Let’s discuss them. 

Where Do Bathroom Fans Vent To?

Bathroom exhaust fans vent the moisture and humidity out of your bathroom, usually through a duct that runs through the attic and out of the house through the roof, eave, or sidewall.

In older houses, the bathroom fans might vent into the attic, soffit, or crawlspace of the house, but this is extremely dangerous.

All that moisture and humidity will start to build up in your attic, and this is exactly the type of environment that mold and rot grow in. Thus, your attic or crawlspace will start to rot.

Do Bathroom Vents Go Outside?

According to the IRC in section P3102.1, all vents are required to vent to the outside. Building codes do differ between the states, but in most modern houses, the bathroom vents do go outside.

The bathroom fan sucks the air through the vent to the outside of the house and allows fresh air to flow into your bathroom. However, in some older homes, the vent might not lead to the outside of your house. 

You should check this and contact a carpenter if you realize your vent is blowing into the attic or crawlspace.

How Does a Ventless Bathroom Fan Work?

Ventless bathroom fans, also known as ductless bathroom fans, do not have a duct connected to the fan that vents the air out of the house. These fans simply circulate the air through a filter to remove any odors.

These fans are preferred in rooms where ductwork is not possible, like an apartment or a basement.

It is also a lot easier to install than a duct vent, you can purchase a ductless fan at a hardware store and install it by yourself.

How Can I Stop My Bathroom Vent From Smelling Bad?

The most likely cause of a bathroom vent smelling bad is a blockage or buildup in the pipes of your bathroom. You can make a mixture of vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and hot water and pour that into your pipes. Wait 15 minutes before rinsing your pipes.

Another solution could be checking that your vent is properly insulated where it connects to the duct, this is most likely in your attic.

Check that no mold or bacteria is growing on your duct or the top of your bathroom fan.

Alternative Solutions

If your house does not have an exhaust fan, there is no need to panic, there are other ways that you can ventilate your bathroom.

Alternatives to Exhaust Fans in Bathrooms

The best alternative to an exhaust fan is natural ventilation. This means keeping your doors and windows open as much as possible, especially right after you have a shower or a bath.

Another option is to purchase a ductless fan with a filter that you can easily install in your bathroom to remove some of the moisture and control the odor in your bathroom.

Simply using a normal fan with your window open could also help to ventilate your bathroom.

No Fan in Bathroom Solution

According to the IRC, your bathroom needs to have at least a window that can open or an exhaust fan to ventilate the air. So if you do not have a fan in your bathroom, be sure to keep your windows and doors open as much as possible.

Alternatively, you could buy a dehumidifier that is designed to extract the moisture and humidity from the air.

This is the perfect option for a bathroom that often feels stuffy or stale, it will make your bathroom feel fresh and clean.

How to Get Rid of Bathroom Odor Fast

The easiest way to get rid of an odor in your bathroom is to turn on the extractor fan or to open a window and allow fresh air in. Alternatively, you could keep a bottle of air freshener sprays nearby.

If you want to cover an odor immediately, using an air freshener will do the trick.

However, you should also at least open the window to allow actual fresh air to enter the bathroom. Lighting a scented candle is also a great alternative.

Related Questions

When Did Bathroom Vents Become Common?

People have always known it’s important to ventilate fresh air into your home through a window or door. Building codes differ all over the world, but in the early 1900s, the first mention of proper bathroom ventilation was becoming common in building codes.

By the middle of the 1950s, most new houses were being built with natural air vents to promote ventilation.

Mechanical exhaust fans became common in houses built in the 1980s and later, although you can still install an exhaust fan in older homes

Should I Run My Bathroom Fan All the Time?

You should not leave your bathroom exhaust fan running 24/7 as this can cause extensive damage to the motor of the fan and even cause the motor to heat up and start a fire.

If you want to keep your extractor on for the majority of the time, you should regularly clean the fan.

Remove the cover and lightly scrub away the dirt and debris build-up on the fan. Doing this every week will likely prevent any fire concerns.

How Long Should I Run My Bathroom Fan?

You should run your bathroom fan while taking a shower or a bath and for 20 minutes after. This is because the moisture will still be in the air of your bathroom even after you turn off the tap.

Heat rises, so the moisture in the air will rise towards the exhaust fan in your ceiling and be sucked out.

Do not leave your fan running overnight or when you are out of the house, as you would not be able to see the signs of an impending fire.

Final Thoughts

Bathroom exhaust fans are great for so many situations, removing moisture, humidity, and odors from your bathroom.

If your house does not have an exhaust fan, we recommend contacting a carpenter to install one and improve the air quality of your bathroom!

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