12.09.2013

Tunnel Vision

Bathroom Exhaust Fan - Louvered Vents
   It is crazy cold outside. There, I said it without expletives. There is really no other way to express -17° F. While everyone has their own opinion of what constitutes cold, very few would go outside in a t-shirt this evening. Now I know this pales in comparison with our brethren from the eastern half of Montana, but I digress.
   When we bought our home, none of the houses in our neighborhood had bathroom exhaust fans. I mean, how do you get rid of all the water vapor from a shower? Especially when it is this cold outside. I learned the very simple answer to this, the hard way.
   I had installed bathroom fans as one of the first projects in our derelict house. The installation was straight forward and I chose the cheapest stock items available. This did not mean I cut corners on the actual installation, the ducts were sealed and insulated to prevent attic condensation. The fail point that I could not have foreseen was the louvered vent covers. When we have these arctic cold spells, they will freeze shut leading to excessive moisture buildup in the bathroom and adjacent bedrooms.
   I have been driving myself nuts looking for a solution, I cannot stand it when a system underperforms or downright fails. It is not as plain and simple as manually opening the louvers, because as a I mentioned it is way too cold to work outside and the vents are fourteen feet off the ground.
   Desperately, I turned to a dehumidifier, a short-term fix and an expense that I loathed. While shopping, a knowledgeable associate dissuaded me from the purchase at a local box store. Here is my confession that seems ridiculous as I write it down, he asked me why not open the windows?
   I will admit that I had been so headstrong trying to come up with a better system, that I flew past the most obvious. It turned out that his solution was quite sophisticated. I was hesitant because of the sharp temperature difference, but what I was not considering was the outside humidity. When it is this cold out, it is bone dry, even with snow on the ground. Within twenty minutes the outside air neutralized the indoor humidity, while only dropping the bedroom ten degrees.
   I humbly share this tale as a reminder that sometimes the solution to your problem is right in front of you. Beware of tunnel vision, take a minute to step back and analyze the situation for the most basic and simple approach, it might be as easy as opening a window.

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