What are the Different Types of Ventilation Fans?

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  • Written By: Kay Paddock
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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Ventilation fans, also known as exhaust fans, help air circulate inside a home, which usually allows the house to stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Fans that move air in an enclosed space, such as a small attic, also can help keep mildew and mold from growing by dispersing moisture. There are several different types of ventilation fans. Some common types include in-line, wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, exterior-mounted, and combination fans. In addition to these types, the fans can be designed for whole home air ventilation, or they can serve a specific purpose in one room, such as a stove exhaust fan.

In-line ventilation fans are usually best for houses in which a fan can not easily be installed into the ceiling. These fans are placed inside the actual ductwork of the home and used to suck air through the heating and cooling vents. The air is pushed through the ductwork and out of the house. Wall-mounted and ceiling-mounted fans are mounted directly into the wall or ceiling of a room. These suck air from the room and push it through the ductwork in the same general manner as in-line fans.


Exterior-mounted ventilation fans, also sometimes called exterior remote fans, are mounted on the outside of the home. They are typically installed in the roof or on the side of the home's exterior to pull air from a part of the house. These types of exterior fans are often used to ventilate attics and crawlspaces to keep damaging moisture from staying trapped inside.

Combination ventilation fans are ceiling or wall models installed inside the home. Combination varieties typically offer both light and ventilation. These are often found in bathrooms where the fan can be easily turned on with a wall switch or pull cord along with the light. Some three-way models also offer a small heater installed in the same fixture.

A ceiling or roof ventilation fan can serve as a general air refresher that keeps indoor air from becoming stale. Some rooms may need special attention, however, such as bathrooms. Fans installed in bathrooms pull out the excess steam and humidity to keep the room from staying too damp. Kitchens may also need a special fan — ventilation fans built into range hoods or on the ceiling above a range can help improve kitchen air quality by pulling out steam, smoke, and cooking fumes. Many homes will have better overall air quality with a combination of two or three different types of ventilation fans.


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Post 2

@Feryll - I renovate old houses as a hobby and most of the homes I work with are like yours in that they don't have ventilation fans. Putting the fans in is a relatively easy job, but one that takes a few tries to really get the hang of.

I recommend having a professional do the job and you can watch and see just what the job requires. The good news is the fans are not particularly expensive and the cost to have them installed is also reasonable. Make sure you find someone who has good references to do the job, and I think you will be satisfied with the outcome, including the cost.

Post 1

My girlfriend and I really like old houses, so when we finally got around to buying a house we were determined to find an old one with character. We found an old farm house and we are very happy with it for the most part. The house has lots of character. Unfortunately, what it does not have is bathroom fans.

When this house was built, I don't think any houses had bathroom fans. In fact, most houses probably didn't have bathrooms at that time. However, today most of us assume bathrooms are going to have ventilation fans. Without fans, nothing drys out in the bathrooms and I am concerned about mold growing.

Anyway, one way or another we

want to get exhaust fans up and going in both bathrooms. I was thinking about trying to put in the fans myself to save money, but I'm not sure I should do the job myself because I will have to cut holes in the ceiling and that's not something I have done before.

Does anyone have any thoughts on which route I should take-- hire a professional or do it myself?

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