All About Ventilating a Home

Learn how and why you should properly ventilate your kitchen and bathrooms.
Related To:


Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Efficient ventilation removes odors, pollutants and vapor-laden air trapped inside a home before they can cause any damage, harm to you or your house or discomfort. Condensation occurs as moist, warm air comes in contact with cold surfaces. It is easily visible on glass, walls or ceilings, but it can also form on carpets and curtains. Damp surfaces may decay over time, and the resulting mold and mildew can cause an unhealthy living environment. Insulation, double-glazing and heating can all lessen condensation, but good channels for ventilation and the free flow of air are required.

Health and Safety

When installing a fan, make sure that the extracted air is replaced by fresh air — especially in a room containing a fuel-burning appliance. Failure to provide fresh air can cause a fatal buildup of carbon monoxide in a room. Fuel-burning appliances should be regularly checked and serviced. If you have any doubts about how to ventilate an appliance, get professional advice before proceeding and install carbon monoxide detectors.

Static Ventilation

A simple hole, usually at the top or base of a wall, with grilles to let air in or out, provides static ventilation. Some interior grilles can be closed, but others are fixed open for constant airflow. Static ventilation is mandatory in rooms with a fuel-burning appliance, and is often used for venting clothes dryers. Unused chimneys also need static ventilation to circulate fresh air and prevent discoloring damp patches from appearing on the chimney breast. "Trickle vents" in window frames provide ventilation even when the windows are closed.

Exhaust Fans

You can ventilate most kitchens and bathrooms with a fan carrying air a short distance through a wall (an axial fan). Wall- or ceiling-mounted fans have their electric components directly behind a grille, and must not be used within reach of water. To ventilate a shower cubicle, use an in-line fan, which is installed with a length of ducting between the grill and the electric parts. Some kitchen fans are built into a cabinet or hood. When choosing a fan, consider the sound it makes (you may want a "low noise" fan for an attached bath), its power and the manufacturer's advice for a specific fan's use. Most can be wired into the lighting circuit to run when a light is on (usually with a timer so that it continues for a while after the light is switched off), or operated separately with a pull-cord.

Bathroom Exhaust

Position the fan on the ceiling. If you have a shower stall, install the fan near the shower. Ensure that you have the correct power supply, and follow the wiring and safety instructions closely.

Exhaust fan with light (Image 1); Exhaust fan with blades and electrics directly behind grill (Image 2)



Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited



Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Keep Reading

Next Up

A Roof Over Your Head: Protection With Ventilation

From winter cold to summer heat, your roof may have to withstand wide extremes of temperature. Proper ventilation will keep it protected against constant exposure to the elements.

HVAC: Home Tips

Use these maintenance tips to help keep your air conditioning unit running efficiently.

Workshop Heating and Ventilation

There are many options for installing heating and ventilation in a home workshop. These two features are key to creating a comfortable environment in a workspace.

Heating Your Home: The Basics

Learn the basics about heat pumps and furnaces.

Get to Know Your Home's Electrical System

If you're building or remodeling, check out this expert advice on planning your home's electrical system.

The Basics of Air Conditioning

Shopping for a new HVAC system? Here are a few pointers to help you choose an air-conditioning unit based on efficiency, climate and noise.

A Guide to Greenhouse Features and Gadgets

Enhance the functionality of your greenhouse with these hard-working accessories and tools.

All About Air Conditioning

An efficient system and well-sealed ducts are critical in keeping a home cool. See how a well-planned HVAC system can optimize comfort.

Tips for Maintaining a Furnace

Maintaining a furnace is an important part of taking care of your home. These tips and web extras provide information on the types of filters available and the best ways to keep a furnace in check.

Furnace Maintenance Tips

Home heating systems that aren't properly maintained may be less than 50 percent efficient. Learn more about the importance of periodic furnace maintenance.

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.