Sufficient ventilation in the bathroom serves a significant role in evading unnecessary damages. Not only the bathroom but also the house generally is at risk of getting excessive moisture. The common casualty being the walls and the ceiling.
As a general rule, insulation can be placed over and around bathroom fans. Modern bath fans do not create excessive heat and can be covered without an additional clearance. Care must be taken to cover any holes in the housing to prevent loose insulation from entering the fan housing.
Older bathroom fans were not very energy efficient and generated a lot of heat. This is why they used to be covered by a box before the insulation could be added. Luckily modern technology makes this unnecessary, and you can simply place insulation directly on the fan housing in most cases. Below I will discuss the circumstances when a box should still be used.
Insulating Over/Around The Bathroom fan Checklist
You need a guide for insulation over and around your bathroom fan. Below is a checklist you should consider:
- Check the fan installation manual to see if the manufacturer allows insulation to be placed directly above the housing
- Seal any holes in the fan housing to prevent dust from entering the fan and falling down into the bathroom
- Caulk around the fan housing. This prevents energy loss & dust from falling down
- Don’t forget to insulate the duct!
Why It Is Important to Insulate Around and Above the Bathroom Fan
Insulating around and above the bathroom fan will prevent heat loss. Reducing heat loss from your house is a significant part of regulating your home’s energy and electricity consumption, thereby reducing your monthly bills.
Since most fans are placed in the attic, where the temperature is close to the outdoor temp. There will be significant energy loss if there is absolutely no insulation placed on the bathroom fan.
During winter, when the temperatures are extremely low, the fan could be even damaged by frost.
In What Case Can’t Insulation Be Placed Directly Over a Bathroom Fan
Older bathroom fans generate more heat, they should be covered by an airtight box to create clearance. Bath fan manual should always be consulted.
A box made out of rigid foam to cover the exhaust fan housing could be created. The seams can easily be tapped while the edges of the box caulked to the ceiling drywall to make it airtight.
What is Bathroom Fan Insulation Box?
It is the structure that acts as the housing of the exhaust fan. It can be made from rigid foam. The box and the duct can be covered with attic insulation. To seal the box to the ceiling drywall and around the exhaust pipe, spray foam can be used to fix that efficiently.
(Illustration above from Lstiburek, J. 2010. Guide to Attic Air Sealing. Prepared by the Building Science Corporation for the U.S. Department of Energy, Building America Program)
A bathroom fan insulation box done properly will reduce heat loss and prevent condensation from happening. Make sure the rigid foam notched around the exhaust pipe is sealed perfectly.
Can Insulation Be Placed Over Panasonic Bathroom Fans
Loose-fill or batt insulation can be placed directly over the fan housing in the attic. The efficient, cool running motors, LED, and fluorescent bulbs in Panasonic fans do not create enough heat to prevent using insulation.
Among the Panasonic models that allow insulation around & above the bathroom fan are:
- Panasonic FV-08-11VFL5E
- Panasonic FV-0511VQ1
- Panasonic FV-08-11VF5
Can Insulation Be Placed Over Broan Bathroom Fans
According to Broan, as long as it is not a heater/fan combination, it can be covered with insulation up to R40.
R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow through a given thickness of the material, which means the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness.
R-40 means about 10 inches of insulation.
Here are some of the Broan bathroom fans:
- Broan-NuTone HD80L
- Broan NuTone AE110LK
- Broan-NuTone 678
Should a Bathroom Fan Exhaust Duct Be Insulated
A bathroom fan duct must be insulated to prevent or minimize the condensation that is likely to occur as excessive moisture passes through.
An uninsulated duct is the reason why water drips from bathroom fans. If you see a brown stain around the fan grille, you can be sure that the duct is not insulated.
As a general rule: insulate the duct whenever it passes through an unconditioned space; such as an attic or crawl space.
Can Blown-in Insulation Be Used Over Bathroom Fan
It is okay to use blown-in insulation over the bathroom fan since most fans are rated for direct contact insulation. However, you may choose to use a piece of thin plastic over the fan and then allow the insulation to cover over the plastic.
Using the piece of thin plastic keeps the dust from coming in the little holes in the housing.
If there are any small holes in the housing tape them using HVAC tape since blown-in insulation could fall into the fan over time.
Make sure to caulk the ceiling fan seam to prevent heat loss and dust from the attic from falling down.
5 Things to Know About Blown-in Insulation
Blown-in insulation fills between existing wall studs and ceiling joists quickly and easily.
Blown-in insulation can be added to attics without the hassle. Usually, it fills the small gaps that often can allow air to come in.
As much as it creates an insulating blanket, blown-in insulation also acts as a soundproof. It reduces the transfer of unnecessary noise between indoors and outdoors.
Since it involves obstruction of the barrier such as drainage or outlet box, it can keep the insulation from filling the entire space leaving a void with no insulation.
Blown-in insulation has its disadvantages.
During installation, holes are drilled at the top of each stud space, and material is blown in via a long, flexible hose. The drilled hose is then sealed using plugs matching the siding.
Whereas the plugs are meant to match the color of the siding, in case the siding is brick or stucco, plugs are often noticeable.
There are three types of blown-in insulation
- Loose-fill Fiberglass
- Rock Wool
Blown-in insulation can be purchased from lumberyards, home improvement centers
Finding both cellulose and loose-fill fiberglass insulation can’t be that hard. They are readily available in most lumberyard and home improvement stores.
Rock wool insulation, however, may need to be ordered (from the same stores), because it’s more of a specialty item
You would need to order rock wool for blown-in insulation since it’s more of a specialty item of insulation.
Handy homeowners can install blown-in insulation in the attic
Blowing insulation into walls is best left to the pros because it involves drilling into stud spaces that may contain electrical wiring and pipes
When it comes to blowing insulation into the walls, it is often recommended to leave that to the professionals to handle. The reason being, it involves drilling into studs spaces that may contain electrical wiring and pipes.
However, the task of blowing insulation into the attic can be done by anyone, think of it as a DIY project. It doesn’t involve any sensitive part that may require a professional to be present.
What is Blown-in Insulation?
It refers to a process where the use of loose materials with good insulating R-value is filled in the studs or cavities or attic floors.
While many materials meet the minimum threshold to be used for blow-in insulation such as styrofoam pellets or loose fiberglass fibers, the most common material used for blow-in applications is cellulose material.
How Cellulose Material is Made and Packaged
Cellulose is made from recycled newspaper, cardboard, and other wood-based materials. Blow-in cellulose is then treated with boric acid and other substances that make it flame resistant and mold-resistant
When it comes to packaging, blown-in cellulose is tightly packed in bales or bags.
Blown-in insulation is widely regarded as the best method or means of insulation as far as existing construction, attic spaces, and wall cavities are concerned.