Most modern bathrooms have mechanical exhaust fans. If there is a window that can open they are not required. However, it makes good sense to me to have one regardless of code requirements, because who is going to open a window while they take a shower when it is 20 below zero outside?
Anyway, if the bathroom has a fan, I want to make sure it is working. Most inspectors will turn the fan on and verify it is pulling air from the room by placing a tissue paper on the fan grille or see if air is moving under the door into the room. A tissue placed on the floor next to the door should be pulled away from the door and into the room if the fan is moving any air.
Of course none of this is very scientific–but does give some indication as to function of the fan.
I frequently find fans that are not moving any air from the room. Some of the causes are vent flaps at the exterior that are painted shut or otherwise sealed. Vents with clogged screens at the exterior cap will also prevent movement of air. Vent units or vent pipes in the attic that are buried with insulation will keep the fan from moving any air.
I had one the other day that was not moving any air. If you take a look at the following picture the reason should be fairly obvious–though perhaps not at first glance.
Do you need a little more help?
How about this picture.
Still don’t see it?
This next picture should do it for you.
When the deck was added to the house (with many issues associated with installing decks on top of the siding), someone didn’t have their “thinking-cap” on.
The vent fan needs the vent-cap–otherwise it can’t move enough air from the room (among other issues).
Once again, just because you can hear the fan purring away, does not mean it is doing any work.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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