Why Don’t Hotels Have Exhaust Fans In Their Bathrooms?

by SharonKurheg

Unless you’re staying somewhere really fancy-schmancy that intentionally has all the conveniences of home (you know, where you’re paying for the privilege), chances are good that your hotel bathroom has no exhaust fan. That can cause a variety of problems, from the room being really steamy during/after a shower, to the odors that linger after you use the toilet.

You’d think an exhaust fan would be a relatively simple thing that would make life much more convenient (and, let’s face it, odor reduced). So why don’t they have them?

Turns out it’s a really simple reason.

Exhaust fans need to exhaust to somewhere. And that just doesn’t work very well in a hotel environment.

Exhaust fans work by sucking the air and then redirecting it somewhere else. In a home, there’s usually a vent that takes the sucked hot/smelly/whatever air and pushes it out via a pipe in the ceiling or wall that leads to the outside. But that’s just one or two bathrooms. Or maybe more than that, but still not many.

In a hotel, you’ve got lots of rooms that are nowhere near the walls or the roof. So you’d need some major ductwork connected to each and every bathroom in order to have a working exhausted fan. You’re potentially talking about hundreds of bathrooms in a given building, and that means more cost. And more ductwork means places for potential leaks. And each fan would have to be awfully powerful (read: more cost, and loud) to be able to suck the moist/smelly air out and push it however far to the outside (otherwise the air would just sit in the duct and cause mold). And, of course, each fan could break and need maintenance or repair.

There are some hotel bathrooms, especially in newer buildings, that have some form of a ventilation system. They’re generally weak and, at best, might help with the odor issue. But they’re rarely strong enough to help with the steam problem of a hot shower.

But for the most part? Nope, no adequate exhaust fans in hotel bathrooms.

At least now you know why.

*** Feature Photo: Opera Cadet/flickr

#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Glenn June 30, 2020 - 5:02 pm

Not sure what hotels you are staying at but most of mine have an exhaust (known as a return). This is usually required by code to prevent mold building up behind the drywall. All high-rise buildings get their mechanical systems serviced through a “chase” which is a vertical space connecting all floors but hidden from view. This provides potable water and takes out the wastewater. It also commonly has a vertical duct to which each return is attached to and draws out air through an individual bathroom fan or a larger fan located on the roof. This is why I have had situations of smelling cigarette smoke smell in my bathroom because someone else is smoking on a floor below me and the odor can get in rough this common duct.

Sorry for the detailed explanation, but am an admitted engineer geek.

NB June 30, 2020 - 5:37 pm

In most first world countries they do have fans in internal bathrooms as it’s part of minimum building codes to fight odor, damp and infections. There are only a handful of countries with low standards which don’t – the USA being one of them.

N June 30, 2020 - 6:58 pm

That doesn’t make sense. All rooms have supply and return air, a bathroom exhaust can just branch off that and connect to one of the several duct shafts going up and down the building. Sorry man, I’m a commercial general contractor and your reasoning doesn’t add up.

Jenna August 21, 2020 - 12:13 am

I don’t find this explanation to be solid… there are plenty of apartment buildings that are very similar to hotels, and the apartment buildings have exhaust fans. So saying the design of the building is to blame doesn’t make sense.

Episode 35: Vacation Highs and Lows, Y'all! - Long Story Short July 6, 2021 - 3:01 am

[…] THIS is why your hotel bathroom doesn’t have an exhaust fan. Interesting. […]

Sarah M July 30, 2023 - 6:35 pm

I’m seeing a lot of people say they always have exhaust fans in their hotels. I haven’t had an exhaust fan in the last few hotels I stayed at. They were nice hotels too, which is super annoying. Im super self conscious to use the bathroom because you can hear any sound and of course smell everything when the door opens. So I can’t even use the bathroom comfortably. Also, I’m in the United States.


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