There are some things about your home that you may not immediately think of or consider until an aspect of it inconveniences you. One of those things may be the windows, or the lack thereof, in your bathroom. This may leave you wondering, do bathrooms even need windows? We have researched this to find you the answers that you need!
Proper indoor ventilation, whether in the form of a ventilation system of some sort or with openable windows, is essential to your health and comfort. So if you’re still unsure if bathrooms need windows, the answer is yes. Windows or another comparable ventilation system are essential. In some places, you are required to have windows or an approved ventilation system in your bathroom, though codes and laws vary by state, county, and location.
But there’s still more that you should know about having bathroom windows and ventilation options, so read on!
Benefits of Having a Bathroom Window
There are other benefits to having proper openable windows and adequate ventilation in your bathroom.
- Meeting local code and law requirements
- Preventing the growth of mold and mildew
- Reducing condensation, which makes your bathroom more comfortable by avoiding additional air chill or sweltering conditions.
- Help to minimize unwanted bacterial growth, reducing the likelihood of staph infections or strep throat, which thrive in high-humidity environments.
Legal Codes for Bathroom Windows and Vents by State
The legal codes, laws, and regulations relating to bathroom windows and ventilation systems can vary from state to state and even municipality to municipality. For example, the state laws of California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas all vary from one another.
In California, the law for bathroom windows and ventilation is that the bathroom or toilet room must have an aggregate window area. It should not be less than three square feet, except in the instance of having an approved mechanical ventilation system.
There are some exceptions to the required need for natural ventilation and light. However, your mechanical ventilation option needs to be able to produce five air changes per hour if it’s connected to the outside of your home.
If you live in Florida, you may or may not be required to have windows in your bathroom. However, all of the windows in your house, particularly if you live on the coast, need to be impact-resistant or otherwise protected. This includes safety glazing or tempered glass, especially on door assemblies or those windows that may be near bathtubs or hot tubs.
For residents of New York, the law is that “Every water-closet compartment, bathroom and general or public toilet room, and every other room containing one or more water-closets or urinals, except as specifically provided otherwise in this section, shall have at least one window opening upon a street or lawful court, yard or space above a setback. Every such window shall be at least three square feet in area and shall be made so that half its area can be readily opened.
- No window shall be required when each such compartment, bathroom or general toilet room is located on the top story or underneath the bottom of a lawful shaft or court and is lighted and ventilated in either case by a skylight the roof of which contains at least three square feet of glazed surface and is arranged to be readily opened.
- In lieu of a required window or skylight, it shall be lawful to install a system of ventilation, approved for construction and arrangement by the department, for water-closet compartments used for the business portions of any dwelling or for compartments containing water-closets, bathrooms or general toilet room in any dwelling. Such system of ventilation shall be maintained and operated continuously to provide at least four changes per hour of the air volume of each such water-closet compartment, bathroom or general toilet room daily from seven o'clock in the morning until seven o'clock at night in any business parts of such dwelling and from six o'clock in the morning until midnight in all parts used for dwelling purposes.” This is per the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, Title 3, Section 76.
In Pennsylvania, there does not seem to be any code or law that expressly identifies whether or not you are required to have a window in your bathroom. However, should you choose to have a window or multiple windows added to your bathroom or elsewhere in your home, you will need proper permits to do so.
For Texas bathrooms, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs defines in Chapter 6 that:
“At a minimum, exhaust fans shall be installed in each full bathroom (half baths not required to have an exhaust fan) and in the kitchen if not existing or operational. Exhaust fans shall comply with the 2009 IRC, Chapter 15. 17 If an operable window is present in a bathroom, an exhaust fan is not required.
Bathroom Exhaust Fans: Exhaust fans shall be Energy Star qualified. If a continuous fan is installed, it shall be greater than or equal to 20 cfm. Intermittent fans shall be greater than or equal to 50 cfm. Either fan cannot exceed 1.5 sones.
All fans shall exhaust to the exterior, either through the roof or a gable wall, be mechanically fastened, sealed with duct mastic, insulated to R-6, and have a mechanical damper.
Bathroom exhaust fans shall be installed on a dedicated GFCI protected circuit. Flashing shall be installed to provide a positive drainage plain. Flex duct terminating at a gable vent is not allowed. Light kit, night light, and/or a heating element may be included with exhaust fans in conjunction with the desires of the occupants. Combustion appliances venting to the exterior shall not be located in bathrooms.”
Additionally, laminated or tempered safety glass is required for any glass that is within five feet of any bathtub, shower drain, or pool vicinity.
Do Bathroom Windows Need to be Tempered?
Where bathroom windows are required or exist, the glass does have to be tempered safety glass. This is especially true for skylight windows and any windows or glass within five feet of the shower or bathtub.
This requirement regarding the use of safety glass where bathrooms are concerned has been part of the Uniform Building Code since 1991. It’s a matter of safety for you and your family, as anything could happen to the window from the outside or inside. The safety glass is intended to minimize any possible injuries.
Safety glass may be either tempered or laminated glass. Wire reinforced glass is no longer permitted for use as safety glass for bathroom windows.
Is it Required to Have a Vent in a Bathroom?
Codes and laws vary depending on where you’re located, so it’s important to double-check with your county code enforcement office and possibly the state office to be on the safe side.
However, whether it’s mandatory in your locality or not, we do strongly advise having a ventilation system. It helps to keep your bathroom more comfortable and keeps it a healthier environment so long as you practice proper ventilation. This is especially true if your bathroom has no window.
What Do You Do if Your Bathroom Has No Vents?
If your bathroom has no vents but has a window, you may not need to do anything at all. But if there’s no ventilation system and no window available, you’re going to have a difficult time keeping your bathroom drier and more comfortable.
The best thing to do would be to have a professional install a ventilation system to your bathroom that will redirect the humidity of the room to the outside space of your home. After all, you don’t want the moisture to be trapped in your home in the walls or attic, as this can still cause a build-up of mold, mildew, and bacteria.
Alternatively, you can hire a contractor to install a bathroom window in the room.
How Can I Light a Bathroom Without Windows?
This is a big problem in older homes that may now have bathroom windows and may not be required to have windows depending on the local laws and building codes.
Some of the best ways to light these bathrooms are with brighter output light bulbs or fixtures. You might also consider an illuminated mirror rated for bathroom use. Both light options should be able to handle the humidity of being used within a bathroom setting.
Additionally, installing glazed paneling in and around the bathroom, such as in the hall to the bathroom itself, can help to redirect light into the bathroom for better visibility.
What is a Good Color For a Bathroom With No Windows?
The best colors for the floor and walls of a windowless bathroom are light, pale colors. Lighter colors reflect light better and will help to brighten up your bathroom overall.