Mahogany paneling and showers don’t mix. Unfortunately, that’s how most Eichler bathrooms are made, complete with inadequate ventilation. One solution is to leave the skylight and window open, but as the winter rains come and temps drop into the 40’s, this results in lots of uncomfortable mornings and a general meat locker atmosphere that seeps into the entire house. Clearly, we needed a bathroom exhaust fan. But not just ANY bathroom fan.
Since Eichlers don’t have attics, the ceiling is also the roof. So any ceiling mounted exhaust fan involves a penetration through both the 1.25″ tongue and groove planking as well as the roofing material. Since we have a membrane roof, the expense and risk of punching a hole through our roof simply wasn’t a good idea.
Witness the Panasonic Whisperwall FV-08WQ1! Built lovingly in Japan by an army of robots, the Panasonic is the Cadillac of bathroom exhaust fans. Designed specifically for in-wall installation, the fan spins on ultra smooth bearings and is designed to be extremely quiet. It also comes with an external vent complete with a backdraft damper to keep cold air out. It ain’t cheap at $150 but it’s a very high quality piece and definitely looks like a nice piece of Japanese bathroom technology.
The problem with a wall mounted fan on an Eichler is that there is a beam between the window and the roof. Since this beam is quite structural, cutting an 8″ hole in it seemed like a poor idea. So we installed the fan in the side wall above the shower head and opposite the closet. We removed some paneling, replaced the switch box with a double switch box, and rewired the electrical to accomodate a second switch. We then used a pair of 8″ to 7″ duct adapters with some 7″ semi rigid ducting to run the output of the fan into the closet from the side and out through the back wall. This involved some careful measuring and cutting, as well as some exploratory drilling to identify where the duct can penetrate the wall without running into a beam. We used basic hand tools and a jigsaw, though if you have a router you can probably make the round cuts more easily.
After a couple hours of measuring, cutting, and wiring, we were ready to go!
The Whisperwall is aptly named- the fan is all but inaudible more than 6 feet away and its placement above the shower ensures that any steam is rapidly whisked out of the bathroom and the house. We’re all much warmer and happier as a result.
Tags: eichler DIY