Proper ventilation provides a comfortable environment to work and live in. A high-performing fan is required to achieve this. There is a variety of equipment that one can choose from.
However, the type and size of the room will determine the device needed. For wet rooms, e.g., bathrooms, toilets, and kitchens, extractor fans are recommended. What do extraction fans do?
This article will help answer this question and explain why they are needed, tips for selection, and maintaining and caring for them.
What Are Extractor Fans & What Do They Do?
It's a type of ventilation system that removes unwanted substances like steam, smoke, heat, pollutants, and unpleasant smells from the air, allowing them to escape through the ducts to the exterior walls.
They are installed in kitchens, bathrooms, and toilets to eliminate harmful substances that would instead cause damage.
Where Are Extractor Fans Used In Your Home?
• Bathrooms– Hot water taps and showers release a lot of vapor into the air. Extractor fans will remove this steam and prevent it from damaging the surfaces.
• Kitchen– Are installed to help eliminate heat, smoke, steam, and unpleasant smells released in the kitchen, providing a comfortable and safe space to work in.
• Toilets– As earlier stated, this machine can exhume bad air that would linger and create uncomfortable conditions for users.
• Utility rooms– These are kitchen extensions or basements used as excess storage space. Like the bathrooms, a utility room requires an extractor fan to keep the room fresh and prevent the room from becoming too humid.
Why Are Extractor Fans Necessary?
In bathrooms, extractor fans help to extract steam released into bathrooms when taking hot showers or baths.
Why is steam so bad?
As soon as this steam gets into contact with the cold bathroom surfaces, it immediately condenses. When this happens over time, mold starts to grow, damaging the walls and floors and also releases a musty smell.
The damaged surfaces are breeding grounds for microorganisms. Long-term exposure to these microbes together with the mold spores are dangerous to human health.
They irritate and provoke symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and skin rashes. For people with respiratory problems, symptoms can be amplified, leading to serious health issues.
How does an extractor fan prevent this?
When hot steam is released, the fan sucks out the moisture into a duct leading to a vent opening. These ducts have to be short, sealed, and installed in a way that prevents condensation and leaking that would lead to rot.
As for kitchens, the circulation of smoke, steam, grease, and heat produced when cooking can make the kitchen almost unusable, especially during the summer season.
Such conditions are unhygienic and dangerous to both people and appliances. An extractor fan will help control the temperature, smells, humidity, prevent fires, and most importantly, provide sanitary working conditions.
Types Of Extractor Fans
• Axial fans are installed into walls with direct access to the outside and are used when the extracted air doesn't have to move for a long distance. This device works by moving the air upwards, creating an air pressure difference forcing it to flow through the fan. Due to their small size and silent nature, axial fans are installed in bathrooms, toilets, and smaller rooms.
• Centrifugal fans are designed for rooms that do not have exterior walls. They work by spinning the air outwards using centrifugal force. Centrifugal fans can move air for longer distances and have a more effective extraction rate than axial fans but are noisier. They are used in kitchens, large bathrooms, and large utility rooms.
• Mixed flow fans are a perfect blend of axial and centrifugal fans. They have a much higher extraction rate and have longer running ducts. Mixed flow fans can quickly move the air around any bends in the duct without affecting performance and are also silent, making them convenient for commercial kitchens.
Tips On Choosing A Suitable Extractor Fan
• Location – For rooms that have exterior walls, axial fans are recommended. As earlier discussed, these fans can only work efficiently with short ducts, that is, below 1.5 meters with two or fewer bends. Axial fans are best for bathrooms, toilets, and smaller rooms. As for inner rooms, it's advisable to get the centrifugal or mixed flow fans. They can move air over longer distances, i.e. 40 meters.
• Exterior grilles – They are used to cover the vent through which the air is ousted. There are two types of exterior grilles, gravity, and fixed grilles. Gravity grilles tend to push open when the extractor is in use and close under gravity when it's off. This prevents backdrafts. Fixed grilles are permanently open and can allow backdrafts. However, fixed grilles are less noisy.
• Extraction rates – This is the rate at which the fan extracts the air when it's on. The rate is measured in litres per second. The larger the room, the higher the extraction rate should be to ensure proper ventilation and vice-versa.
• Noise – Some extractor fans can be noisy, which can be very distracting. One may not know this until the device starts running. If there are people susceptible to noise, please consider buying a less noisy fan, like the mixed flow fan.
• Time to operate – This lies more on preference. Some fans are turned on using a switch or remote control, while others have timers. Some have humidity sensors, while others turn on when someone enters the room.
Extractor Fans Maintenance & Care
Top-notch performance and long life are determined by how the extractor fan is maintained. Here are some points that to help take care of them:
• Cleaning. Fans, whether installed in the bathroom, toilet, or kitchen, need to be regularly cleaned at least every six months. The blades and cover need to be dusted, and in the case of long ducts, you can have them professionally cleaned. Accumulation of dust, grease, and other elements is one reason why extractor fans can be noisy.
• Do not overwork the extractors. Overworking them will increase the rate of breakdown. If it's in the kitchen, select the correct power setting for what you're cooking. Use the lowest speed when you need to boil or slowly cook and use high speed when heavy frying to remove all the smoke and grease effectively.
• Make sure that the fans are correctly installed. There are several cases where unethical installers vent the extract fans into attics or gaps between walls, severely decreasing the extractor's efficiency. Ensure that you properly inspect where the fans are venting out during installation.
Extractor Fans Pros And Cons
• Extractors can remove moisture in bathrooms that create humid conditions encouraging mold growth.
• Controlling fumes and smells expelled when cooking and extract smell from toilets creating a comfortable environment.
• Maintains wall and floor health, preventing the walls from being damaged by mold, and as for kitchens, walls and surfaces don't need regular cleaning since they can extract steam grease.
• Heat can make a living and working conditions unbearable. An extractor sucks up this heat, exchange it with cooler air and maintain the ambiance.
• Extractor fans are not only costly to buy, but they are also expensive to install.
• Most of these devices are usually loud and can hardly be used if you or your family are sensitive to loud sounds.
• Some have a backdraft effect. It happens when the air expelled is pulled back into the ducts creating inefficiencies in the fan. This is common in extractor fans with fixed grilles.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Who Would Install An Extractor Fan?
If your bathroom is continuously humid with a musty smell and the walls and floor are being destroyed by mold, then you need an extractor fan. If working in your kitchen during the hot summer days is unbearable and grease has covered every surface, an extractor fan will do wonders.
2) Where Is The Best Place To Put An Extractor Fan In A Bathroom?
A fan mounted on top of the shower or bath is the perfect place. Installing an inline fan here would give have the best extraction rate compared to the other devices.
3) How Do You Install An Extractor Fan?
A professional team must handle the process. This prevents any damage to the building's exterior and interior, leading to costly repairs.
4) Do Kitchen Extractor Fans Need To Vent Outside?
Yes. Having a vent outside ensures the kitchen is cleaned and cooled off effectively. It extracts hot gases, steam and reduces the chances of grease settling in the kitchen and the hood.
5) What's The Difference Between Extraction And Recirculation?
Extraction is removing steam and unwanted materials by sucking them up and transporting them to the exterior walls using ducts. Recirculation is when the air is drawn through filters to remove odors, steam, and impurities and then released back into the room.
Having an extractor fan installed is one of the best decisions you will make. At first, it's easy to think that you might not need an extractor fan and that an open window will do.
The article has proven that they are more effective. An open window will still allow moisture and dust inside the building and can’t be opened during the winter season.
When it comes to selecting the best extractor for you, be aware of your requirements. If this proves difficult, you can always request to have your home surveyed by a professional.