Bathroom extractor fans – everything you need to know

Puzzled by ventilation choices for your bathroom? Check out our ultimate guide

Are you thinking about investing in a bathroom extractor fan? When you have a hot shower then leave damp towels in your bathroom to dry out, the moisture they add to the air condenses on colder surfaces, encouraging mould and mildew to grow. Fitting an extractor fan will control this condensation and prevent damage and mould, which can cause health problems.

1. Do you need a bathroom extractor?

bathroom with bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

It’s not a must, but if your bathroom has little or no natural ventilation, and you want to enjoy hot showers without worrying about damage being caused by the steam, they’re definitely worth putting in. You can pick up a simple fan for as little as £20.

Other ways to help keep condensation at bay are to allow plenty of air to circulate throughout your home, so keep windows and doors open as much as possible; wipe down surfaces and walls to remove excess moisture and avoid leaving wet towels on the floor, as these will encourage mould growth.

2. What should I look out for?

bathroom with shower

(Image credit: Future PLC/Matt Cant)

You’ll see and hear your fan every day, so it’s worth paying more for a good looking model that’s quiet, too. Often fans are connected to the mains, so they come on when you turn the bathroom lights on. A fan with a separate pull switch could be more suitable if you’re showering during the day or worried about noise at night.

3. Where can it be positioned?

bathroom with toilet

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jamie Mason)

You need to check your fan is safe for each ‘zone’. Zones 1 and 2 are in close proximity to the shower or bath, so you’ll need a SELV (Safety Extra Low Voltage), 12v or LV fan, requiring a transformer housed outside the zone, or one that has an IP45-rated motor.

This means that all the electrical parts are resistant to water at all angles. If you’re replacing a fan for something similar, you could make the swap yourself, but ensure the mains power is switched off first, and that the voltage is like for like. Otherwise it’s best to get a qualified electrician to install it.

4. Do I need to fit a special extractor fan if I have a wet room?

The build-up of moisture is greater in a wet room than a regular bathroom. Go for a humidity-tracking extractor fan, as they work continuously or incrementally with automatic extraction depending on how much steam is in the room.

Deputy Editor

Jennifer is the Deputy Editor (Digital) for Homes & Gardens online. Prior to her current position, she completed various short courses a KLC Design School, and wrote across sister brands Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes, Country Homes & Interiors, and Style at Home.