Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bathroom Vent

Breathing fiberglass dust makes me cough.

While dusting the hallway yesterday, I noticed this ugly mark on the ceiling. Gee, am I really that unobservant that I hadn't noticed that before? I thought so. I asked the kids; they didn't think they remembered that mark on the ceiling either. I made a note of it to mention to Gary when he got home. However, he was preaching on Monday night in Shorewood, so it would be a 30-hour wait until he got home to where he could do any checking or fixing for me.

So then I'm cleaning in the bathroom later. Dusting the door frame [yes, I know, this weird fit of cleaning-cleaning instead of just fudging along with a wiped sink or a mopped floor] I found a puddle. Right near the spot on the hallway ceiling. Hmmmm.

So I investigated in the attic. I discovered a new problem that I'd never heard of before. The steam being sucked out of the bathroom has been condensing in the vent-tubing as it passes through the attic on its way outside. And then it freezes. With the warmth yesterday, water was sloshing around in the vent-tubing and there were hunks of ice rattling around in there too. This is where the soppy drips had originated to mess up my hallway ceiling. Geeminy Christmas!

Okay, so I take a bucket upstairs into the attic, intending to separate the tubes where they had been spliced together, and dump the water into the bucket. Uhhhh... news-flash to Susan. Water goes DOWNHILL. So my plan worked hunky-dory for the water and ice in the half of the tube connected to the exhaust-vent in the roof. But the water and ice in the half of the tube connected to the bathroom ceiling.... ummm... it went flowing downhill and splashed through the vent-machine, all over the bathroom floor and toilet and counter and into the litter box.

And it was icky yuck nasty dirty water!

Well, good thing I hadn't gotten far in the bathroom cleaning.

After I removed the motor and the vent-fan from the bathroom ceiling, Andrew held the bucket underneath the hole and held open the flap on the tubing so that I could go upstairs and empty the rest of the water from the tubing. We ended up getting more than a gallon out of the tube.

It dried overnight. This morning I rearranged the tubes in the attic so that they no longer leave the bathroom ceiling-vent, dip down, do a 180° turn, travel relatively horizontally across the attic (with a few more mild roller-coaster ups-and-downs), and then make a 90° turn up to the exhaust spot. I cut a bunch of the tubing out, re-spliced it, and used string to hang the tube from the roof joists so that the vent-tube is much closer to being a straight shot from the bathroom vent to the exhaust-spot in the roof.

I'm a little worried about that. For one thing, some of the online advice said that having it be a straight shot leaves the possibility for condensed steam to run back toward the bathroom instead of making it all the way out of the house. Hmm. Could be. But would that be any worse than having the steam pile up and pile up in ice chunks all through the winter? The other problem is that I noticed it's colder in the bathroom now. That could be simply because somebody had opened the bathroom window earlier. But that was long enough before that it doesn't seem to be an adequate explanation for the chillier bathroom temps.

On the other hand, I took an intentionally long, hot, steamy shower after I got myself out of the fiberglassy attic. Just a scientific experiment, y'know. Not because I wanted a long, hot, steamy shower. Oh no! I kept peeking out at the mirror. It took longer to steam up than normal. When I got out of the shower, there didn't seem to be any steam swirling around in the air. Hmm. That's a good sign. So then we decided to play with matches and experiment with some nice visible air. We tested what happened to the smoke from the matches in the little bathroom where the vent was off, and what happened to the smoke near the vent in operation in the big bathroom. And you could tell that the vent was really drawing! So, I'm hoping that it's fixed. Wow. I fixed something!

(And if anybody knows that something I fixed is going to create a new problem, please let me know before I discover it the hard way.)


  1. Whoa! I am duly impressed... I would have likely been swearing under my breath at the "inconvenience" of the whole mess. We have some extra masks around here from our recent attic adventures if you need to go up there again! I hope all your messy and hard work pays off!

  2. I don't recall saying that I wasN'T swearing under my breath at the inconvenience....

    But, really, I wasn't. I tend to do pity-parties much more than getting angry about it.