Posted on: 18.04.2023 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

When building a new home or renovating an old one, one of the many questions is proper ventilation. And one room that you may not think about but needs it the most is the laundry room. Should you bother and incur the cost of installing an exhaust fan in your laundry room?

A laundry room should have an exhaust fan and proper ventilation for various reasons. This includes controlling moisture levels and preventing mold, preventing lint fires, and preserving the health of the home’s occupants. Exhaust fans can also help keep your laundry room cooler.

The extent to which your laundry room needs an exhaust fan may vary depending on how modern the washing machines are. But it’s better to be safe than sorry for all households. Read on to find out why.

Indoor Moisture Levels

A crucial part of maintaining a comfortable and healthy environment in your home is controlling the amount of moisture in the air. Lack of moisture can cause dry skin and contribute to nasal discomfort, nosebleeds, and sinus infections.

On the other hand, excessive indoor humidity can damage household electronics, contribute to higher cooling costs, and promote the growth of unsightly and potentially dangerous mildew and mold.

Excessive Indoor Humidity Lives in the Laundry Room

In a typical American household, one of the primary sources of excessive indoor humidity is the laundry room and its appliances, as modern laundry rooms are designed to contain as much water as possible during operation.

However, some moisture will inevitably escape when a washing machine is left open with freshly washed and still wet clothes. It is generally recommended to transfer the clothes to the dryer as soon as possible after completing the washing cycle.

A considerable amount of moisture can also escape from a clothes dryer, as it combines a heat source with wet clothing.

Both washing machines and dryers can be surprisingly long-lasting appliances, at least in terms of their mechanical components, but one of the first components to deteriorate are the moisture seals.

So even if an older appliance still functions, it could be allowing a surprising amount of water vapor to escape into the house.

Moisture Creates Mold and Mildew

Remember that mold and mildew are unsightly and potentially toxic.

First of all, mildew is an entirely separate member of the fungus kingdom from mold and prefers ambient temperatures between 77 ℉ (25 ℃) and 88 ℉ (31 ℃), which corresponds to the temperature range of most homes.

Additionally, mold requires a moisture content above 60%, and a faulty seal or a laundry room without an exhaust fan invites this moisture content.

Mold, including the surprisingly toxic Aspergillus “black mold,” requires similar conditions.

Mildew can damage indoor paints and wallpapers and cause mild allergic reactions in humans, while mold can contribute to dangerous and potentially fatal illnesses, including cancer. Removing excess moisture from laundry rooms is essential to prevent the growth of mildew and mold.

How to Remove Excess Moisture from Your Home

The two most common methods to remove excess moisture from a laundry room are using a dehumidifier or an exhaust fan. The exhaust fan is the better option for two main reasons: energy consumption and convenience.

A typical residential dehumidifier consumes between 300 watts and 700 watts of power, which is not much compared to other household appliances. But a typical exhaust fan for homes consumes only between 5 watts and 35 watts.

Dehumidifiers also have the additional complication of needing their tank physically emptied. If you forget to do this, the device either stops working or starts to leak, the latter contributing to the moisture problem.

Exhaust fans also provide additional benefits that will be explored in the rest of this article.

Dryer Lint Fires

Household clothes dryers combine heat sources, fuel, and air, which makes them one of the most significant fire hazards in residential buildings.

According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), a division of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), clothes dryers contribute to or directly cause 2,900 residential fires every year.

Modern dryers are safer than before, especially when used and maintained correctly, but accidents and negligence happen. During normal operation and proper use, dryer lint is either caught by the lint trap or blown out of the dryer’s exhaust vent.

But if the lint screen is absent or clogged, or if the exhaust vent is damaged or disconnected, dryer lint can escape into the laundry room.

This lint can create a similar situation to a grain elevator fire, where airborne particles catch fire and the flame spreads from particle to particle, leading to an explosion.

Installing an exhaust fan can help prevent a lint fire by sucking the lint up and out of the house.

Indoor Air Quality and Human Health

As described in this article, much of the continental United States is covered in thick smoke from mega-fires in Western states like California and Oregon. But even with so much smoke and soot in the outdoor air, the air inside your home can actually be more polluted and harmful to health.

According to the EPA, an average American home can have dozens of sources of atmospheric contamination, ranging from solvents in cleaning products to radon seeping from groundwater.

On average, one of the worst rooms for indoor pollutants is the laundry room.

Atmospheric pollutants in an average laundry room can include, but are not limited to:

  • Mold and mildew spores
  • Airborne lint fibers
  • Exhaust fumes from natural gas combustion (carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide)
  • Volatile organic compounds from detergents

Poor indoor air quality has serious impacts on human health. One of the most effective methods of improving indoor air quality is installing exhaust fans in the rooms with the highest levels of pollution.

Volatile Organic Compounds

A volatile organic compound (VOC) is a carbon-based chemical that easily evaporates at normal atmospheric temperature and pressure. High concentrations of VOCs can cause mild symptoms like eye, nose, and throat irritations or severe symptoms like liver damage and epistaxis (nosebleeds).

In some cases, VOC exposure can even cause cancer.

One of the worst sources of VOCs in an average household is scented cleaning products, including laundry detergents and fabric softeners. During the washing and drying cycles, the fragrance chemicals evaporate and disperse into the air in the laundry room.

Impact of Poor Indoor Air Quality on Human Health

The health effects of poor indoor air quality can range from annoying to potentially deadly. Like VOC exposure, poor air quality in indoor spaces can cause eye and respiratory irritations, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

This condition is known as “sick building syndrome.” This means that a person experiences the aforementioned symptoms quite strongly when inside a particular building. The symptoms then subside or disappear when they leave the building.

These are caused by poor air circulation.

In extreme cases, poor indoor air quality can contribute to potentially lethal illnesses, including cancer, Legionnaire’s disease, and respiratory failure.

How Exhaust Fans Improve Indoor Air Quality

Since the air in your laundry room, let alone the rest of the house, could be heavily polluted, you may want to clean it up. One of the most effective methods to clean up your indoor environment is by exchanging the air in your home with the relatively clean outdoor air.

And this is where an exhaust fan can be indispensable.

By expelling air from the interior of your home to the outside, an exhaust fan slightly depressurizes your home. Air from the slightly higher pressure outside your home will flow into your home through open windows, door gaps, and even your chimney if the damper is not closed.

One of the best places to install an exhaust fan is one of the most heavily contaminated rooms in your home, such as the laundry room. Sucking the air out of the laundry room and expelling it from the house prevents the additional atmospheric pollutants it contains from flowing through the rest of the house.

Most importantly, an exhaust fan dedicated to laundry rooms is an effective and energy-efficient way to improve the air quality in your home by promoting the exchange of air between heavily polluted indoor spaces and the relatively clean outdoor environment.

Final Thoughts

There are many benefits to installing an exhaust fan in your laundry room.

Removing air from a laundry room to the outside helps control moisture levels in the house, limiting or preventing the growth of mold and mildew. It can also reduce the risk of a dryer lint fire by expelling floating lint from the space.

Building codes in several states require commercial laundromats without significant open windows to be ventilated by industrial exhaust fans. It may be time for similar regulations to be included in residential building codes.

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