So in the midst of all this flooring and concrete joy, our bathroom fan starts making a horrendous “I’m dying a horrible painful grinding death” noise. Already loud, this makes toilet and bath use pretty much unbearable in there.
So I decide it’s time to do what I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and order a remote bath ventilation system.
I’d done some idle research after seeing an ad in Fine Homebuilding magazine (a great rag, by the way — much better than any of the normal do-it-yourself construction magazines) for American Aldes Ventilation.
Several companies, it turns out — Aldes, Fantech, and I think Panasonic too — make bathroom fan systems where, instead of having the fan right in the bathroom ceiling, the fan is mounted elsewhere in the attic or house, with ductwork connecting it to the bathroom. This way the fan is further away from the living space, which cuts down on noise even more than the quiet bathroom fans available.
After doing a bit more research, I decide to go ahead and order the MPV-200/4, a fan unit with four intake ports, as well as the deluxe accessory kit (four intake vents, four backflow preventers, and four constant-airflow bladders, which hold each intake port to 50 CFM of airflow), which set me back around $700 after shipping. Not cheap, unfortunately, but read on.
I receive it, and of course hook the unit up to power before installing it. It turns on, and is oh so beautifully quiet. Even just exhausting itself into the room right there, it’s quieter than the old bathroom fan was before it started making its death whine.
So I go take out the old bathroom fan, which used a 3″ rigid duct to exhaust to a port out the roof. After a bit of work (ever paranoid of making a leak — that would be really really bad), I make the hole under the roof cap big enough for a 4″ duct. I could probably stretch it to 5″, but that might get me into trouble.
I head to Home Depot, and grab a box of 4″ flexible insulated plastic ductwork, a bunch of metal band clamps (apparently the giant zip ties that used to be the standard a couple years ago have been outlawed for ductwork, since they can fail under the heat of a furnace system), a 6″ aluminum dryer duct, a short length of 4″ rigid duct, and a 6″ to 4″ adapter. Also a roll of the fancy ok-for-ductwork duct tape. (Normal duct tape falls apart after a little while; the fancy stuff doesn’t.)
I screw a couple of heavy duty eyebolts to the rafters, trying to be extra careful again, and hang the fan unit from the included chains. I then cut the holes for the intake ports, one over the bath, and one over and behind the toilet (if air comes in from the bathroom door, I want it to go across the bathroom and cross over the toilet before being exhausted, so that it removes poop smell efficiently). I cut enough of the flexible insulated duct to get from the vents in the ceiling to the intake ports on the fan unit, and hook these up with the band clamps and duct tape. I then cut enough of the 6″ aluminum duct to allow the fan unit to swing a bit, and connect it to the 6″-to-4″ adapter, then to about 8 inches of the 4″ rigid duct, which I stick up into the roof cap. I then use the duct bracket I forgot to mention earlier to secure this part to the rafter.
After sealing all the seams with the fancy duct tape, I hook up the electrical from the old fan, cover the other two intake ports with duct tape (the other two ports are for the other bathroom, which is in the contained area where the mold was, which is still going constantly just in case there might be mold, which hopefully there isn’t anymore, but we won’t know for sure till we have them back to take care of a couple of more places where we found roof leaks, which we can’t do till we move into the back bedroom) until we hook them up to the other bathroom, put the plastic vent covers in place inside the bathroom, and flip the switch.
Bliss! Other than a slight metallic clunk as the backflow preventers open in each vent right when you turn the fan on, the only noise you can hear from inside the bathroom is the rushing of air. It’s not 100% silent, but oh so much better than any other bathroom fan I’ve ever heard.
After patching the hole from the old bathroom fan with some drywall, I perform the acid test — I take a shower.
Even with the door closed, the mirror never fogs up. There’s still a bit of humidity in the air after the shower is done, but much less — and gone much more quickly — than with the old fan. The new fan is so powerful it actually sucks air in through the heating vent as well as from under the door like it’s supposed to.
I’m thinking that when we hook up the other bathroom (and redo the wiring so that the fan switch in both bathrooms controls the same unit — and possibly add humidity sensors, as well), the airflow might decrease a bit in the one bathroom. I hope the constant-airflow-regulators just mean that the airflow in the one bathroom will stay the same, though. Even so, it’s a wonderfully quiet bathroom fan. My SO has for a while now been wanting me to install a separate fan switch so that she can take a bath in peace. However, this solution is almost as good.
The fan was expensive, but if you figure that the $700 plus incidentals covers two bathrooms and is positively *silent*, I think it was worth it. At $120+ for standard “quiet” bathroom fans that aren’t nearly as quiet as this unit, and that can’t easily be relocated to exhaust directly from over the shower and toilet, I think it was worth it.
So, something that actually went right for a change. Yay…