How To Vent A Bathroom With No Outside Access

How To Vent A Bathroom With No Outside Access

If you take a look at most heavy duty project guides featuring bathroom repair or remodeling, you’ll notice that they all suggest getting ventilation going in your bathroom.

It’s true about retiling bathroom floors, applying certain adhesives, and even doing major cleaning projects for bathrooms that have water damage. The thing is, not all bathrooms have outside access. So, how do you vent that type of bathroom?

The easiest way to vent a bathroom with no outside access is to install a ceiling vent, but you have other options to consider, too. You can also add more ductwork, get a floor vent, or just use a fan to add extra airflow during your projects. 

A bathroom that has ventilation problems will make itself known pretty quickly through the growth of mold, stuffiness in the air, and a need to clean more frequently than normal. If you have been thinking of venting out your bathroom, check out this guide to help you figure out the best route for you.

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Do You Have A Ventilation Problem?

When people first buy their homes, they usually assume that a bathroom will not have a ventilation problem. However, in older homes, it’s possible to have a bathroom that was built without a vent and without access to the outdoors. This can lead to a slew of problems that will make themselves known fast. The most common signs of a bathroom in need of more ventilation include:

  • Mold. In a poorly ventilated bathroom, moisture ends up getting trapped for longer periods of time. This can lead to increases in mold and mildew, especially on walls and tiling.
  • Stuffiness. Have you ever been in a room that isn’t well ventilated? It’s stuffy. You’ll notice this right off the bat.
  • Lingering Smells. When you have to go to the bathroom, a ventilated bathroom will be able to handle smells that come from your toilet. A poorly ventilated one might have smells linger for half an hour or more.
  • Extra Moisture. Because bathrooms involve showers, sinks, and tubs, a badly ventilated bathroom tends to have lingering moisture in the air even if you didn’t recently use the facilities.

How Should You Vent Your Bathroom?

I’m not going to mince words. Trying to add extra venting to a bathroom is not going to be a DIY project unless you decide to add a fan to your room. Adding a vent means that you will need to call an HVAC professional to do the job for you. It’s just too complex for a regular DIYer to do. In fact, it may even go against building codes to try to do this on your own!

Though you might not have the option of doing this on your own, you do have several options that you can choose from to add a little breathing space in your bathroom. Here are your best picks…

Add A Ceiling Vent

A ceiling vent or ceiling fan is a good way to route the moisture and steam from your baths up through to your roof. This is a good way to keep your bathroom looking great while also reducing the moisture levels. Many ceiling vent fixtures also have lights attached to them, which makes them work double-duty.

Add A Floor Duct

If you want to be a little more subtle and want to vent near your toilet, it’s a good idea to look into a floor duct. These are vents that have grates in your floor, and send air under your floor to the outside world. Floor ducts are good for bathrooms that may not have the right ceilings for a light vent fixture, and are often the most durable out there.

Expand Your Ducts

Some bathrooms are already equipped with ducts, but still don’t have quite the amount of ventilation that they need in order to prevent extensive water damage. If this is what you believe is happening with your bathroom, then you may need to add extra ducts in other parts of your bathroom to help increase airflow outside.

Consider Getting Commercial Ductwork

Let’s say that you don’t live in a traditional home. Rather, you live in a large building that you act as a landlord in. You house multiple families in the building, many of who complained about the airflow in their bathrooms as well. Should this be the case, you might want to get contractors to install commercial ductwork to help unify your airflow and increase your bathrooms’ breathability.

Add A Fan

If you want to DIY it and just need a little extra breathability for a project, another option that you can use is to get add a fan into your bathroom temporarily. Just plug it in, let it do its job, and you’ll be able to complete your project without much issue. This is the cheapest solve, and should really only be used for quick fixes.

How Much Does Bathroom Ventilation Installation Cost?

While it can depend on the type of vents you’re getting as well as your need for ductwork, there is some good news to this article. Most ventilation exhaust installs are considered to be a moderately priced task. The average bathroom ventilation installation project will cost between $230 and $537. In some cases, it’s possible to add a bathroom exhaust vent fan for as low as $110 or as high as $800. 

If you need to add ductwork to your home to make the exhaust fans work, then you’re going to feel a serious punch to your wallet. Adding ductwork to your bathroom can cost between $1800 to $3000 for a typical job. If you live in a historic home or have other special concerns regarding your wall structure, the price can be even higher.

Obviously, if you are just adding a plug-in fan to help you during a project, the price will be much cheaper. You can usually use any type of house fan to make this happen. If you have one lying around, then you will be able to do it for free. If not, then the price you pay is for however much renting or buying a fan will cost.

Can You Vent Your Bathroom Yourself Or Should You Hire A Professional?

You can very well vent your bathroom yourself, especially if it’s something as simple as adding a fan. However, if you’re not comfortable with doing ductwork on your own, you may want to ask a friend who is, or think about hiring a professional. While the labor fees can be somewhat expensive, it’s better to ensure you get the job done right.

If you were to mess up your job, then chances are, your bathroom would not get the ventilation that it needs. Then, you would end up sustaining moisture issues and mold damage over time. The cost to repair that, and replace your wall or drywall, plus renovating would surpass the cost to hire a professional so it’s better to do that in the first place if you aren’t sure how to do this.

The Cost Of Hiring A Professional

There would be several different scenarios and costs associated with venting your bathroom. If you’re simply installing a fan, then this would cost between $300 and $700 depending on how difficult the job ends up being. However, if you’re looking to add brand new ductwork, this will run you between $500 and $2,000.

Although, the plus side of hiring a professional is that you get the job done correctly, which will save you money in the long run. But, you could always try it yourself first, and if you get stuck, or don’t think you did it right, you can always pay for a specialist to come and assess the situation as well.

Most of the quotes include the materials, as well as labor. However, not all will include the cost of cleanup. So, if you decide to hire someone, it’s a good idea to call around and ask what all they include in their prices. Sometimes, they will tack on an additional fee for debris removal.

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Our Final Take

A bathroom that’s poorly ventilated isn’t something anyone wants to deal with. It can start to smell gross, trap moisture, and even promote the growth of mold on your walls. Getting your bathroom a little extra breathing space is always a welcome suggestion. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make it happen depending on your needs as well as the aesthetic that you’re looking to get.

The problem that most people have with bathroom ventilation projects is that they’re not meant to be things to do on a DIY basis. In the vast majority of situations, you will need to get a professional to do it. This can lead to costs that can range from several hundred dollars to a matter of several thousand dollars.

Though the price may be high, there’s no doubt that it’s a project that’s worth every penny. Once you experience a cleaner, less humid bathroom, you’ll never want to go back to the way things were.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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