Am I required to install a ventilation fan in my bathroom?

Dear Matt,

Am I required to install a ventilation fan in my bathroom? My husband and I are concerned with what might be involved. Can you make any recommendations?


Dear Barbara,

An exhaust fan in a bathroom is not a requirement if you have the proper ventilation through what we call a “passive” system such as a window. By
code if you have no window you need a special ventilation fan . However, because a window is a passive system, the differential in pressure or cross breeze will create ventilation only if it exists. The exhaust fan will “actively” remove moisture and smell from the bathroom much faster than an open window.

Replacing an existing fan is fairly simple because there is prior ducting.

How you approach this depends on if you have room in your attic. If you have the room there you can duct it through the attic but outide of the house through a side wall. There have been significant improvements in these fans over the years and Nutone and Panasonic make some great models that are strong and quiet. These newer ones not only work better but they are energy efficient. There are two Panasonics that I like, the FV11vh12 and the FV08vh12 . They run anywhere from $250 – $360 and are fairly simple to install. Good luck with your project!



  1. Uberjuju says

    Another thing to consider is if you get up early for work. Even here in California it can be 40 degrees or less in the mornings in the winter. Don’t really want to open that window.

  2. Clovis Strange says

    It is not clear to me if it is meant a window in the bathroom that opens and closes or just windows in the house. Also if the bathroom has two entrance doors is there still a requirement for an exhaust fan?

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