How to Calculate Ventilation Fan Size

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of time that people spend indoors can expose them to serious health problems. The increased amount of time that people spend indoors during the winter helps spread viruses such as cold and flu, and allergens such as dust and mold can be recirculated through a building's HVAC system, posing a risk for people with allergies and asthma. Other risks include cancer-causing radon, which seeps up through the ground, and the toxic fumes emitted by manufactured materials. Therefore, when installing ventilation fans in your home or business, it is important to use fans that are big enough to properly ventilate the building.

Step 1

Determine if the fan will be used continuously or intermittently. If the fan is used intermittently, it needs to be able to perform a greater number of air changers per hour (ACH).

Step 2

Calculate the area that needs to be ventilated. For example, a bathroom measuring 10 feet long, 15 feet wide and 8 feet high has a total of 1,200 cubic feet of space. This example bathroom, which contains a toilet and a bathtub, will use an intermittent fan.

Step 3

Divide the cubic feet of the bathroom by 60 to determine how many cubic feet per minute, or CFM, need to be ventilated. When you divide 1,200 by 60, you get 20 CFM.

Step 4

Multiply the rate of CFM — 20, from the example given in Step 3 — by the number of air changes per hour (ACH). The Home Ventilating Institute recommends 8 ACH for bathrooms. Multiply 20 CFM by 8 ACH to get a total of 160. The fan needs to ventilate 160 CFM for intermittent bathroom ventilation.

About the Author

Carson Barrett began writing professionally in 2009. He has been published on various websites. Barrett is currently attending Bucks County Community College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in sports management.