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Water Dripping from Bathroom Exhaust Fan or Ceiling Vent when it Rains

You can expect your bathroom to get wet. After all, this is where you take a bath. You can expect water to come out of the shower or the faucet. However, you shouldn’t expect for it to come out of your bathroom exhaust fan or ceiling vent. When it does, then there’s obviously something wrong.

So you’re taking a hot shower because you want this stormy night to be as relaxing as it can be. You step out of the shower and then there it goes. A drop of water falls on your head. You look up half expecting to see the shower head somewhat extended only to see the ceiling vent. You’re now at a loss as to why water came out of there.

In this article, we’ll discuss in full everything related to the issue of water dripping from bathroom exhaust fan or ceiling vent when it rains. You’ll know why this is potentially dangerous. This will help you understand the severity of the situation.

exhaust fan

You will know why it’s important that these installations are working perfectly without this issue. You’d want them to do their intended purpose, minus the water dripping.

You’ll also understand why there’s water dripping in the first place. Read on to find out the areas where it might be leaking from.

Another important thing that you’ll learn is the best way to deal with it. Learn how you can solve the issue if you’re an experienced DIYer with the right tools and skillset to do it. If not, then understand the steps involved for you to better appreciate how a bathroom contractor or roofing contractor can help you.

Why Fix a Leaking Exhaust Fan or Ceiling Vent

You’d want the exhaust fan to work perfectly. It has the important role of moisture removal. It helps regulate humidity. Moisture removal and humidity regulation are important to help prevent the growth of mold.

Tell us if this makes sense. The exhaust fan that’s supposed to keep moisture out is leaking, therefore adding moisture in. It doesn’t make sense, right? If it’s leaking, then it’s not doing its job of keeping moisture out. It’s doing the exact opposite. Instead of preventing the growth of mold, it’s even feeding it to grow.

It can also be dangerous. You can slip on the puddle of water. The bathroom is slippery as it is, especially if you have installed tile. Don’t make it more slippery.

Besides, leaks are generally bad news no matter where it’s coming from. If any part of your home is leaking, you have to fix it ASAP.

Why is there Water Dripping from Bathroom Fan?

There are several reasons why. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • There’s condensation.

This is actually the most common issue. This usually happens in the winter. The warm and moist air from your bathroom goes up and meets the cold air from the attic or outside your home. This meetup leads to condensation and will drip water back to your bathroom.

This can also happen during the warmer months. The hot and humid summer air will condense when it hits the pipe made cold by the air conditioning system. The bathroom air will add more moisture and this will lead to condensation.

Condensation can also happen in the vapor barrier that you had installed in your roof. If it’s poorly insulated, the water may end up pooling. The water will find its way through the ducts simply because they provide the best path for it.

  • There’s ice buildup in your roof.

It’s normal for ice to build up in your roof when it’s winter. That’s to be expected. Your warm showers can actually make it melt. The melted ice may find its way to your bathroom through the vent.

  • There’s an issue with the flashing for the vent cap.

You have to understand that the vent is installed by making a hole in the roof. Even if you created a hole that’s of the perfect size for the vent pipe, there will still be gaps around the pipe. This is why roofers add a flashing to the vent cap. This creates the seal.

If it can’t provide a seal anymore because it’s cracked, damaged or broken, then water will find its way through the caps and into your bathroom through the fan or vent.

  • There’s something wrong with the damper.

This simple contraption actually plays the important role of controlling the air flow. It should remain closed until warm air from inside the bathroom forces it open. If it remains open even without the warm air pushing it out or the seal is not optimal, then it can cause water to leak.

  • It’s not the right fan for the job.

Maybe you bought a small exhaust fan in order to save money. You could be overworking it and it’s failing to keep it. Maybe the bathroom is too big for it or your family is a huge fan of hot showers. In these cases, you’d need something more powerful in order to properly exhaust the warm air.

  • Incorrect placement.

An experienced installer knows better than to install it right over the tub or the shower. This is because it will get hit by the air at its warmest. This means that condensation will be quick once it hits the cold pipes. It’s recommended that you have it installed as far away as possible so that the warm air will cool down a bit before being exhausted.

  • Failure to run the fan properly.

Some people get annoyed at the sound of the fan so they only run it once they’re done showering. It’s a good practice to start running it as soon as you start showering and to keep it running for around 15 minutes once you’re done. This is to make sure that you exhaust all of the warm air inside so that condensation won’t build up.

As always, it’s a good idea to have a professional check to really find the cause of the leaking. They have trained eyes that can spot the cause of the issue and make recommendations on the best way to solve it.

Dangers of Water Leaks

The fact that it’s annoying is the least of your concerns. Yes, it’s annoying, but that annoyance fails in comparison to the real dangers of water leaks. Here are just some of them:

  • It can damage your ceiling and your attic.

The ceiling is designed with the understanding that it’s not going to get in contact with water thanks to the roof above it. It’s not designed to stand against water and if there’s enough leaking for enough time, it can really damage the ceiling. You’ll see damages to the paint and its plaster may even start to bubble. The damages can even extend to the walls.

The attic will also be hit if you have one. Your belongings there will be at risk. Imagine the electronics stored there getting water-damaged. The attic does not have the right environment to win against water from a leak.

skylight windows seen from the inside

All these damages, even the small ones, will lead to a sacrificed integrity of the whole roof structure. The water damage will eventually eat at the joists, house framing, rafters, fascia boards and more. A roof is only as strong as its weakest link.

Soon, a major part of the roof becomes deteriorated to the point that major repairs or even replacement is necessary.

  • It can create sparks that can lead to a fire.

Most homes have electrical wiring hidden in their attic so it can stay out of sight. The wires may short and that can lead to spark which in turn can lead to a fire.

Your ceiling-mounted fixtures are also in danger. You have lights and ceiling fans that can get damaged. Worse, they can start a fire.

  • You can slip or fall.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, having a leaking exhaust fan or ceiling vent in your bathroom makes everyone at risk of slipping or falling. This actually applies to all parts of the house but it’s more pronounced in the bathroom where it’s already slippery.

ceiling vent

  • It can be a shocking experience.

What do you get when you mix water with electricity? You get the shock of your life!

It can also lead to another type of shock – bill shock. This happens when you receive your electricity bill. Water damage can damage your insulation and lead to its inefficiency. It won’t work as designed and may need to work double time. Thus, leading to energy waste and higher electricity bills.

  • Mold and mildew will cause major damage.

Moisture can lead to mold and mildew. They need moisture to start and survive. These can cause major damage to your home. There’s a reason why mold and mildew removal is big business. They have no place in your home unless you want something alien slowly but surely munching away at your home.

More scarily, mold and mildew can cause a lot respiratory and health issues. You wouldn’t want your family to get exposed to them. In a lot of cases, you’re already exposed to them without you knowing. This is why you have to take care of leaks before they can start the spread of mold and mildew.

Areas Where it Might be Leaking from

There are several areas where it might be leaking from. As an installation in the ceiling, the bathroom exhaust fan or vent is a common exit point of water that leaked from these areas. Also included are tips on how to stop the leaking:

  • Duct

The fan has a duct that has a flap at the end. This flap opens outwards when the fan is operational and remains closed when it’s not. This is to make sure that air is blown out and it doesn’t let moisture in.

The flap can get damaged and will remain open. This is when problems can occur. Make sure to check if this is the case.

There’s also the possibility that it’s blocked and therefore can’t open. If air can’t be let out, condensation can build up which will lead to leaking.

It’s also a good idea to check by removing the cover of the fan to expose its interior housing. From here, you should be able to see if water is dripping from the duct or from an external source.

If there’s no safe way for you to check the flap and the duct from the outside, contact a professional so they can check. They can safely remove debris if necessary or replace the flap or repair it if possible.

If it’s coming from an external source, read on to know the other areas where it might be leaking from.

  • Skylight

This is a very common area where it can all start. This installation of the skylight created a big hole in the roof. While a good installer would have created an effective seal with the help of a flashing, it can still fail and lead to leaking around the skylight when it rains. This installation is also susceptible to condensation.

Here are the things that can be done:

  • Fill gaps and holes using a flexible roof sealant.
  • Apply silicone caulk to fix the leaking in between the frame and the window.
  • Create a more secure water barrier by replacing the flashing and surrounding shingles.
  • Vent pipe

Just like the skylight, there’s a need to create a hole to accommodate the vent pipe. There’s usually more than one, so there could be several areas where it might be leaking caused by the pipes alone.

It also has a flashing in order to create a seal. This is complemented by the flexible boot.

Here’s how a professional will solve the problem:

  • Fill gaps and holes using a flexible roof sealant.
  • Place a new boot over the old one. Apply new caulking and seal.
  • Create a more secure water barrier by replacing the flashing.
  • Chimney

You could be dealing with a damaged chimney cover. There’s also the possibility of a cracked crown. The leaking could also be caused by gaps in the veneer of the chimney or in its mortar.

There’s also flashing that creates a seal for the chimney and this can be a source of the problem as well.

Here are the possible solutions:

  • Replace the cover of the chimney.
  • Fill gaps and holes using a flexible roof sealant.
  • Create a more secure water barrier by replacing the flashing and surrounding shingles.
  • Redirect water away by installing what’s called a cricket.
  • Shingles

It’s highly possible that you have missing or damaged shingles that are causing the leak. This is especially true if they’re already old. While they can be resilient, they can still fall victim to the harsh elements.

roof being repaired

Check the following if you can:

  • Missing granules as these may indicate damage from hail.
  • Cracked shingles because of hail damage as well.
  • Fallen tree branches and similar debris that may have damaged the shingles, and tree trimming is therefore incredibly important around your home.
  • Water pooling in a specific area or areas of the roof.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Fill gaps and holes using a flexible roof sealant. Pay close attention to nail heads.
  • Remove tree branches, leaves and other debris.
  • Remove and replace damaged shingles. Replace the missing ones.
  • If necessary and if the damage is too big, consider a roof replacement. Talk to a professional roofer for a proper assessment.
  • Roof vent

A good roofing contractor would have installed a roof vent that prevents water intrusion. In the unfortunate chance that you have a roof vent style that can let water in through its sides, then this could be a reason why it’s leaking during a hard rain.

This is especially true with those mushroom-looking roof vents. Their sides are unprotected so a gust of sideway wind can bring rain in.

Here’s what a professional would do:

  • Install a screen wire as a barrier. This is to help prevent rain from entering.
  • Fill gaps and holes using a flexible roof sealant.
  • Create a more secure water barrier by replacing the flashing and surrounding shingles.
  • Gutter

A gutter can actually help channel water the right way. But that’s not the case if it’s clogged. Water will pool along the edges of the roof and with nowhere to go, it will find its way into your home through the eaves.

This is one of the most potentially damaging causes of leaking. This is because it can lead to damages to your home’s foundation because water will weaken the soil around your home. Water damage is also possible to the foundation itself.

An easy fix is to just remove the debris. It’s also a good idea to install a shield to prevent debris from clogging up the gutter.

  • Valleys

Most roofs have valleys in them. These are the intersecting areas of two roof planes that end up shaped like the letter V. A lot of water passes through them especially during a heavy rain.

These valleys can form ice dams. Debris can also build up along these valleys. These things can slow down or even stop the flow of water which could lead to leaking.

The first step is to clear the debris. It’s also a good idea to contact a professional roofer to re-shingle the valleys and install a new shield against water and ice.

Why Hire a Professional Roofer

Most homeowners are tempted to try and solve the problem on their own. Theoretically, there are things that can be done by homeowners like clearing the debris. Going up the roof to check for damages can theoretically be done by homeowners as well.

However, working on the roof is different from working inside the home because of safety concerns. It’s dangerous to go up the roof especially if you have a sloping one. One wrong step can lead to fatal results.

You can also do more harm than good. The seemingly simple act of walking on the roof can lead to more damages. Imagine going up the roof to check for damages only to cause more damages.

This is also a complicated issue. As mentioned in the list above where the leak may be coming from, the issue is not always with the exhaust fan even if it’s the one leaking. The source can be someplace else and it may take you a long time to pinpoint it. As you probably know by now, time is not your friend when it comes to roof leaks.

There are a lot at stake here. Your roof plays an important role in your home and your family. You can’t afford to commit a mistake, and you will commit costly mistakes if you try to do things on your own because you’re not trained for it. It’s better to just hire a professional to do things the right way and to do it quickly.

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