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We have a small wine fridge beneath our counter that was having temperature problems because there was no ventilation to allow the heat to exhaust. The other side of the wall behind the fridge is a half bath, so our solution was to cut a hole in the wall and mount a fan which would blow the hot air out into the bathroom (pictures attached) - so far it seems to be working great! My one hesitancy is that in the 5 inches between the fan and the vent, there's no duct work, just open wall, so there's a good chance some hot air is just going into the wall. Is this a problem?

  • It's a problem if you're right. What's the question? There are no building codes for PC fans in your wall, so it either works or it doesn't. – isherwood Mar 23 at 18:31
  • @isherwood It works in that it's cooling the area around the fridge. What I'm asking about is whether it's okay that I'm blowing a bunch of hot air into the wall. A lot of it is going out the vent into the bathroom as intended, but I'm guessing a lot of it is just getting trapped inside the wall too. – David K Mar 23 at 18:53
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    Probably not a good idea. When your heating system comes on, that vent in the bathroom probably would allow more air flow than that little muffin fan does, so it would push warm moist air from the bathroom into the wall. That could lead to mold. – JRaef Mar 23 at 18:59
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    The air you're venting isn't "hot"--it's merely warm. That will not cause a problem. I'm not concerned about moisture from the bathroom in the wall, either. Being a closed space it won't allow much circulation. However, you may have unpleasantness being pushed out from the bathroom in to the fridge cabinet--odor and moisture. Even that only creates a remote possibility of real problems, though. – isherwood Mar 23 at 19:05
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    If you have such poor circulation around your fridge that the air being exhausted is truly hot--say over 160F--you have other concerns. Your fridge is overheating and could be a fire hazard. – isherwood Mar 23 at 19:07
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Other than the electrical issues I would not be worried about duct work two much you are pulling the heat out of the fridge so that should if anything pull air through if you are concerned a 2x 4 or 2x6 wedged in the cavity would stop almost all the air flow. I have used listed window fans for air movement through living spaces but never a fan not in an enclosure that is plugged in.

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The person who normally deals with these types of issues is an architect, they will be most familiar with this part of the code. I am not familiar with that part of the code but I can make some informed assumptions based on my other knowledge

Two issues, fire and moisture.

Moisture can get into the wall from your bathroom side, this is an issue that you want to avoid

Fire. It doesn't sound like you have an fire issue due to the heat from the fridge in the sense that its so hot it will start one. The issue is that any fire, from either side, can get into the wall.

For these reasons, I'd be willing to lay down money that the code directs that the fan be ducted (no 'free' opening into the wall). The code is there for your, or others, safety so you, as a good person, want to follow it.

BTW, your building department usually would like to help you answer such questions, try giving them a call, email or stop in.

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  • Don't have to worry about moisture or odors because the air flow should be one-way. The hole on the fan side is only big enough for the air blowing out, and the cooler air is then coming in from the kitchen through the gaps around the fridge. The gaps just weren't big enough to promote passive airflow. All still good information though. – David K Mar 23 at 19:58

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