When it comes to removing stale air, odours, and condensation in your bathroom and kitchen, extractor fans are the perfect tool. Particularly when utilised properly, they offer ventilation and encourage airflow precisely where and when you need it most. So, how long should an extractor fan stay on for? Can you connect your extractor fan to a timer? And is it safe to leave a bathroom fan running for an extended period of time? This article explores the answers to all of these questions and more to help you get a better understanding of how to use exhaust fans to the best of their ability. By the time you are done reading, you should be primed and ready to start taking advantage of all the benefits extractor fans can bring to your house.
How to Use Your Extractor Fan the Right Way
What Is an Extractor Fan Used For?
An extractor fan or exhaust fan is used to remove humidity, moisture, and odours. They are typically located in bathrooms and kitchens but can also be found in utility rooms or anywhere deemed a “wet” room.
In bathrooms, removing humidity and moisture helps to preserve the integrity of the walls and plaster, as well as bathroom fixtures. Steam and moisture can quickly result in the growth of mildew and mould, which can cause allergies and structural damage if they are allowed to persist. A bathroom exhaust fan also helps to eliminate unpleasant smells.
In a kitchen, extractor fans help to remove steam and odours as well, although they don’t always vent outside like a bathroom exhaust fan.
While opening a window to improve ventilation can also help in the same way as extractor fans, building regulations state that new build projects must also use some form of extraction fan in bathrooms that contains a shower.
How Long Should You Let Your Extractor Fan Run?
Many bathroom extractor fans are attached to timers that range between 20 seconds and 20 minutes of time. So how long are you supposed to set the timer for? Or, if you do not have a timer on your bathroom extractor fan, how long should you leave it on to clear bathrooms of humidity and odour?
Typically, it is recommended that you run your bathroom extractor fan while you use the bathroom and for about 10 to 15 minutes after. However, it depends on how the room has been used and for how long. For example, if you take a steamy bath or a long shower, you will want to run the bathroom for longer than usual. As far as odours are concerned, simply run the bathroom fan until the smell has been removed.
To avoid electrical issues, which we will discuss later on, you should never leave your bathroom fan on overnight. About an hour should be the maximum time you let an extractor fan run.
When it comes to extractor fans in the kitchen, you should typically run them while you are using the hob and for another 10 to 30 minutes after you are done cooking, depending on what you made. You may want to operate it for longer if you make fish or other pungent-smelling foods. The run time will also vary somewhat based on how much smoke and steam are produced while cooking.
What Are the Switch Options for a Bathroom Extractor Fan?
Different bathroom extractor fans are turned on and off in different ways. The most common, basic model of a bathroom fan is connected to the light switch, so it automatically turns on and off with the light. Other bathroom extractor fans have their own switch with a timer that can be adjusted. Some of the most modern extraction fans do not have a switch at all and, instead, have a humidity sensor. The sensor monitors the air in the space and automatically turns on and off the power when a particular level of humidity is reached.
Can Bathroom Extractor Fans Cause a Fire?
To avoid the possibility of an electrical or another type of fire, you should not run your extractor fan 24/7. As you use your fan, lint, dust, dirt, and hair are naturally sucked into the fan and build up on the blades and around the wiring. This build-up of debris can overheat and combust, leading to an accidental fire. A build-up of dust and hair can also limit the functionality of the fan by clogging the blades.
In addition, faulty wiring can also lead to a fire, so if you hear the wires sparking or notice a burning plastic smell, power off your extractor fan immediately and do not use it again until it has been inspected. You may even want to call an electrician to play it safe.
It seems the best way to prevent an accidental fire from occurring is to clean your extractor fan regularly.
How to Properly Care for Your Extractor Fans
How to Clean Your Bathroom Extractor Fan
To ensure proper ventilation and prevent a possible fire hazard, you should clean your bathroom extractor fan twice per year. Fortunately, it is quite simple and should only take about five to 10 minutes in total.
To clean your bathroom exhaust fan, start by turning off the electricity at the circuit breaker. Then, unscrew and pull the fan cover off so you can wipe it down with a damp cloth dipped in warm soapy water. You will also want to clean out the ventilation holes behind the cover, so the air has a clear path and wipe down the fan blades with a damp cloth. If you see any mould on the fan cover, you could try soaking it in bleach for a few minutes and then washing it away.
Is Your Extractor Fan Working Properly?
If you aren’t sure whether or not your extractor fans are working correctly, you can conduct an easy test to find out. Simply hold a single square of toilet paper or tissue up to the fan while it is turned on. If the fan holds up the tissue, then it is working properly. If the fan struggles to hold the piece of tissue, then it could be time for a cleaning. Or, you may want to consider replacing the fan entirely.
How Long Does an Exhaust Fan Last?
Like any mechanical or electrical fixture, exhaust fans do not last forever. Generally speaking, you can expect about 10+ years of life from a bathroom exhaust fan and about 15 years from a kitchen exhaust fan.
If you start to notice a rattling or a strange noise, it often signifies a faulty motor. Take a moment to check the wiring is secure, and tighten any screws with a screwdriver if needed. Rusty bolts can also impede the flow of electricity and could be replaced to help improve the electrical conductivity of the fan overall.
Can You Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan Without an Electrician?
If you decide you need to replace an exhaust fan, it is possible you may be able to do it yourself, but often, it is best to enlist help from a professional electrician. To determine whether or not you need help from a professional, you should consider a few factors; first, how it is installed.
Different types of extractor fans are installed in different ways. Some are installed in the ceiling with ducting that leads through the attic to a vent, possibly on the roof. The most simple type of installation is through an external wall to an outside vent. Lastly, some fans are installed through a window, but this often requires a glass cutter and is not ideal.
If you are replacing an extractor fan with another new one that is the same size and don’t need to replace or install ducting, you can probably do it on your own as a quick DIY project. You will also want to check to see the holes in the old and new exhaust fan lines before you start installing as well.
If you wish to install an entirely new extractor fan or if you are undergoing a renovation, it is often best to hire an electrician instead of doing it yourself. Fortunately, a project like this should not cost you very much at all.
Extractor Fan Guidelines Made Easy
In summary, we learned that extractor fans are an excellent way to remove odours, humidity, and moisture to preserve the integrity of your home. We also learned that you should leave a bathroom fan on for between 10 and 20 minutes after a steamy shower. When it comes to kitchen fans, you may want to leave them on for up to 30 minutes after you are done cooking. Lastly, cleaning your fan twice a year can help keep your fans running smoothly and safely for up to 10 or 15 years.
Hopefully, reading through this article taught you more than you expected, and you can walk away with some pro tips to help you use your extractor fans to the best of your ability.
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