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I have a small bathroom with a traditional 2 sided shower cubicle in one corner. Like all shower cubicles it has an open top. The bathroom has both an opening window and a working extractor fan.

If the first person to use the bathroom in the morning takes a shower, then bathroom quickly fills with steam and condensation forms on the walls (even with window open and extractor on). Anyone else who then uses the bathroom in the next half hour or so has to put up with a rather damp and unpleasant environment. (situation is probably exacerbated by location, I'm in northern Europe, the showers are hot, and the bathroom is cool - ideal conditions for condensation)

The extractor fan is in the bathroom ceiling above the shower cubicle, I can't help but think that if the cubicle was sealed (i.e. the walls went all the way up to the ceiling) then steam from the shower wouldn't get into the bathroom and the extractor fan would suck it all out before it had the chance to spread into the rest of the bathroom and condense on the walls/windows/floor.

Or am I missing something? Is there a good reason the walls of shower cubicles never reach the ceiling?

UPDATE - thanks for the suggestions about alternative ways of reducing condensation, but that's not really the focus of the question. Is there a good reason for shower cubicles being open at the top? The only thing this seems to do is to allow steam to escape into the bathroom, and condense everywhere. With a working extractor immediately above the shower why can't the cubicle be sealed? Maybe I have missed something? maybe there's an obvious reason that showers have to be open?

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    First, either the window open OR the extractor on, otherwise the extractor takes the air coming in the window and gets rid of it ... – Solar Mike Aug 25 at 12:38
  • Plastic sheeting and masking tape are cheap. Put some up, and see how that changes the situation. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 25 at 17:33
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Showers don't have to be open. I've seen and worked on many that had walls to the ceiling. I had a customer who had an open shower and inquired about closing it in because they had a breathing problem and wanted to breathe the steam. I enclosed it by adding two pieces of plexiglass mounted on top of the rails for the shower door and wall up to the ceiling.

  • Thanks Jack - my plan was also to mount a couple of bits of plexiglass to extend the cubicle to the ceiling. Good to know it should work. – ConanTheGerbil Aug 25 at 14:14
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Maybe try heating the room. The condensation happens on the walls because they are a cool surface (and there is a bunch)

Warmer room air will mean the air has more capacity for water but right now this is only happening in the air. The cold walls are acting like a cold glass of water on a hot humid day.

Letting cool air in from the window may actually make the problem worse.

I would check the door to make sure adiquate air from INSIDE the home can supply what the fan removes. If the door gap isn't enough you may even see dust around the doorframe from where the air is forcefully pulled through.

Ultimately colder or shorter showers will also help but good luck advocating for that (:

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Big problem with enclosed showers is drying them out so mold doesn’t grow. But they certainly exist.

Sounds like your problem is proper ventalation. Which would be worse with a closed in shower. Fans don’t work well in high humidity air typically.

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Fresh air needs a way in.

The extractor does just half of the job: pumping moist air out. However, there must be a way for fresh air to come in to replace what gets pumped out. That's because the fan is not a vacuum pump, so it can't work against a sizeable pressure gradient.

Given the flow that the fan is supposed to produce, that fresh air inlet needs to be large enough, tiny gaps in the doors simply won't cut it. Obviously, the simplest solution is to leave a gap above the walls. It's not perfect, because the fan ends up exhausting a lot of the fresh air as well, but you can't instead make the gap at the bottom or water would leak everywhere.

So if a shower was sealed, the extractor would be essentially useless as long as the doors are closed. You'd need to have a source of fresh air as well, such as a vent in the ceiling. Without that, you could either:

  • seal the shower almost completely, keeping just a relatively small opening so that the moist air doesn't leak out (and close the shower door immediately after getting out), or
  • seal everything and remember to keep the shower door slightly ajar with the extractor running every time you finish showering.

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