Should You Use A Flexible Or Rigid Duct For Bathroom Fan?

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A simple exhaust fan can increase the air quality in your bathroom dramatically. Still, that fan’s ability to do its job depends on the type of air duct that leads from that fan to the outside of your home. Between choosing flexible and rigid air ducts for your bathroom fan, which one’s better?

Generally, a flexible air duct from your bathroom fan is cheaper and easier to install. However, it’s easily kinked or flattened if anything falls onto it. On the other hand, a rigid air duct costs more and is harder to install, but it’s built to last and provides better airflow.

This article will take a deep dive into the differences between a flexible and rigid air duct. By the end, you’ll be able to make a well-informed decision that will suit your bathroom fan the best.

Keep on reading!

Flexible Air Ducts For Bathroom Fans

Flexible air ducts are a very popular option for homeowners installing bathroom exhaust fans. Besides being affordable, these ducts are also straightforward to install, even as a DIY job. Still, flexible air ducts come with their fair share of drawbacks, making them a less ideal option for some homeowners.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of using flexible air ducts for bathroom exhaust fans.

Pros Of Flexible Air Ducts

Easier To Install

First and foremost, flexible air ducts are very easy to install. Being lightweight and compact means that you can transport them to your ceiling with great ease. Plus, once you have them there, you can snake the air ducts around pillars or any existing HVAC equipment you may have up there.

Easy To Adjust

Besides being easy to install, flexible air ducts are also easy to adjust and reposition.

Imagine if you needed to make adjustments to your HVAC system and the air ducts inside your home’s roof someday in the future. 

If that ever happens, you can quickly move and reposition the flexible air ducts you have in place for your bathroom exhaust fans.

Costs Less

Overall, installing flexible air ducts for your bathroom exhaust fans is much more affordable. There are several reasons for this: the first is that flexible air ducts are much cheaper.

Besides that, they require a lot less expertise and labor to install correctly. Both of these will result in lower installation costs which could save you a lot of money.

Cons Of Flexible Air Ducts

Easily Kinked, Flattened, and Damaged

As the name suggests, flexible air ducts are made from flexible materials, which come with one significant drawback: they’re easily kinked, flattened, and damaged.

For example, if you installed the air duct with too many turns, the duct might become kinked. Besides that, objects in your roof might fall onto the duct, flattening it entirely. Worse yet, homeowners may also experience pests that end up tearing or damaging their flexible air ducts.

If any of that were to happen to a flexible duct, the airflow inside would be jeopardized. At first glance, that might not seem like such a big deal. Unfortunately, that’ll result in your bathroom fan not being able to draw air out of your bathroom.

Despite having a functioning exhaust fan, your bathroom will suffer from poor ventilation due to a kinked, flattened, or damaged air duct.

Must Be Secured And Supported

Because flexible air ducts are so easily kinked, flattened, and damaged, that also means that you’ll need to secure and support the duct throughout its entire length.

Depending on your roof structure, that might mean installing mounting screws or bolts to keep the duct in place and protected from any damage.

Too Many Turns Will Affect Airflow

Lastly, flexible air ducts are usually not perfectly straight. With too many small turns or folds in the duct, the airflow inside could be jeopardized. As a result, the bathroom fan will not be able to draw air out from your bathroom efficiently.

Bottom Line

Flexible air ducts are excellent in terms of affordability, ease of installation, and flexibility. However, it’s not the best when it comes to durability. 

If that’s more important to you, then read the next section on rigid air ducts instead!

Rigid Air Ducts For Bathroom Fans

Rigid air ducts are also made from several different materials, though sheet metal is most common. These aren’t as easy to install as flexible ones, but they offer plenty of durabilities and better airflow instead.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of rigid air ducts for bathroom exhaust fans.

Pros Of Rigid Air Ducts

Can’t Be Kinked Or Flattened

Being rigid, you’ll never have to worry about these kinds of air ducts getting kinked or flattened. Even if something heavy was to fall on the air duct, perhaps something like a box stored in the attic, the odds are high that the air duct will remain completely undisturbed.

That’s fantastic news because it means that the airflow inside the duct will also be unobstructed and can continue as usual. Your bathroom fan will have no problems pushing air through the duct out of the house.

Much More Durable Overall

On top of that, it’s also tough to damage a rigid air duct. Falling objects or even pests in your attic will not be able to damage your rigid air duct, no matter how hard they try.

No matter what might happen in your attic, you can rest assured that the air duct will be the last thing to suffer any real damage!

Better Airflow

Overall, rigid air ducts promote much better airflow between your bathroom exhaust fan and the vent that leads to your home’s exterior. That’s because rigid ducts provide straight pathways for the air to flow efficiently.

And, as mentioned previously, these kinds of ducts will never get kinked or flattened, so you’ll never have to worry about obstructed airflow.

Cons Of Rigid Air Ducts

More Effort To Install

Rigid air ducts come with their fair share of drawbacks. For one, they require significantly more effort to install. Sheet metal is heavier, and you can’t fold it like you would be able to with a flexible air duct.

Plus, rigid air ducts aren’t made of one continuous piece. Instead, you’ll be connecting several pieces to form the entire length of the duct.

Overall, that means you’ll need more time and energy to move the pieces to your attic before you can assemble and connect them to your bathroom fan.

Fixed And Difficult To Adjust

Once your rigid air duct is fixed in place, it’s going to be very difficult to make any adjustments to it. Suppose you needed to change the layout of your ducts and HVAC equipment in your attic for whatever reason. In that case, you’ll need to dismantle the air duct and piece it back together again.

Higher Cost

Besides using more expensive materials, rigid air ducts also require a lot more effort to install correctly. That means higher material and labor costs as well. All in all, you’re looking at a more significant investment when you opt for a rigid air duct made from sheet metal or any other material.

Difficult To Clean

Lastly, rigid air ducts are pretty challenging to clean. Typically, you’ll need to remove several screws and panels to access the inside of the air duct before you can clean out any dust or debris that’s built up inside.

Bottom Line

So, what’s the big picture here? Well, rigid air ducts require a more significant investment compared to flexible ones. Plus, once they’re in place, it’ll need plenty of effort to make any adjustments to the layout or even open it up to clean the inside.

However, that investment does offer you some significant benefits. Rigid air ducts are much more durable, so you can rest assured that they’ll last much longer without any problems.

Plus, they offer better airflow for your bathroom exhaust fans, and you’ll never have to worry about them getting kinked, flattened, or significantly damaged.

Flexible Or Rigid Air Ducts For Bathroom Fans; Which Is Better?

At this point, it should be evident that both flexible and rigid air ducts offer their fair share of benefits and drawbacks. What works for one homeowner may not work for another. It all depends on what the individual’s preferences might be.

Suppose you’re looking for a flexible and affordable solution, and you don’t mind possible damage that might occur. In that case, a flexible air duct could be the ideal solution for you.

However, if you’re the kind of homeowner who prefers having a more durable, long-lasting solution, and you don’t mind shelling out more cash for it. The rigid air duct would provide you with much more benefits.

The real bottom line in all of this? You have to know your priorities when it comes to the air duct for your bathroom exhaust fans. Once you figure that out, choosing between a flexible and rigid air duct will be a very easy decision to make.