how to replace bathroom exhaust fan

Are you renovating your bathroom, and you are wondering how to replace a bathroom exhaust fan without attic access?

If you are a homeowner, you have probably heard about the benefits of installing an exhaust fan in your bathroom.

From improving the air quality to odor control, exhaust fans will, without doubt, transform your bathroom as well as protect you and your family from unhealthy mold and bacteria. This way, you can enjoy long luxurious baths.

However, many people find it challenging to install or replace a new bathroom exhaust fan, especially when there is no attic access.

However, the process is not much different from that of installing any other fan, and you need to identify the right route where the duct will run.

In this article, we will look at some of the steps involved in replacing an old bath fan with a new bathroom exhaust fan. Also included are the features and benefits of having an exhaust fan for your bathroom.

How To Install a Bathroom Fan Without Attic Access

Things to Do Before Replacing A Bathroom Fan

01. Measure the Fan Housing and Duct

The first and most important thing is to determine the fan size as well as the fan duct size. All you have to do is take off the fan cover and get the exact measurements of the exhaust fan housing.

The exhaust fan housing is positioned amidst the drywall. This may not be too hard if you are replacing an existing fan, as you won’t need to adjust the ceiling hole.

02. Establish Exhaust Route

Since your fan doesn’t have attic access, it should then vent through your house sidewall.

The vents, which run through the sidewall of the building, should be installed during the house’s construction period so that you’re able to establish a proper exhaust route.

03. Evaluate the Electrical options

Generally speaking, using an old switch for your new exhaust fan is very easy, and you won’t need to add more switches.

However, if the new fan you intend to install comes with features like light, humidity sensor, and heater, then it is wise that you operate it using a different switch.

On the other hand, if it doesn’t include light and you want to run it as a double switch, then new wiring will be needed.

Exhaust fan replacing steps

Steps for Removing the Old Bathroom Exhaust Fan

Once you have established the fan size, exhaust route, and electrical options, the next step is to get rid of the old fan. Here are some steps to guide you;

Step 1: Turn off the breaker

Begin by turning off the power of the fan’s switch to avoid being electrocuted.

To be sure that it is turned off, take away the grill cover by pulling down the plastic cover don and squeeze the metal clips that attach the housing and cover inwards.

Then use a non-contact circuit tester and use it to touch the electrical wiring in the fan. If it beeps, then the breaker is still on.

Step 2: Remove Motor from Housing

The next step is to remove the fan assembly and motor from the main housing. Which is mostly held together with screws.

Therefore, a screwdriver will come in handy to help you disconnect the motor.

In cases where the fan has an electrical plug to cap the motor into the housing, you will need to unplug the fan first so that you can remove the fan assembly or motor.

Step 3: Remove the Fan Housing from the Ceiling

Once you have removed the fan assembly and motor, you now need to take away the fan housing from the ceiling.

In most cases, the fans are secured in place by mounting screws to the ceiling joists. Hence, you need to remove the screws to remove the fan housing.

The fan housing can also be held in place with an adjustable metal bracket, which is screwed into the ceiling joists.

Usually, the majority of these new bathroom fans are secured, keeping you safe during the process.

Step 4: Duct and Wiring Removal from Fan Housing

Push the metal housing up to the ceiling to get access to the vent duct. To remove it from the housing assembly, you will need to cut the foil tape that holds it in place to the exhaust fan.

Then remove the electrical wiring by unscrewing the bushing whose primary role is to secure the electrical wiring from damage.

Replacing of bathroom fan tips

Steps for Installing the New Bathroom Exhaust Fan

Step 1: Evaluate the Size of the New Exhaust Fan

You want to ensure that the new fan housing fits well into the drywall ceiling hole. If it’s too large, identify a mew hole and use a keyhole saw to cut out the drywall.

You also want to make sure that the housing assembly can be adequately secured on the wood joists. Otherwise, you may need extra woods to the joists.

Step 2: Connect the Home’s Wiring to New Motor Wiring

To do this, you will need to remove the junction box cover so that you can pull the home’s wiring. Ignore this step if the exhaust fan doesn’t include the junction box.

Once you have removed the installation, use a bushing or protective grommet to prevent it from rubbing against the metal edge.

Step 3: Install Duct Connector to Fan Housing

The duct connector, also known as a flapper, helps to join the duct to the exhaust fan. There are two methods of doing this step.

First, you can use a soil tape so that you can attach the duct and the duct connector firmly. Then, once you’re done fortifying the joists, line the housing assembly properly into the flapper.

The other method is by connecting the duct connector to the housing before you secure the housing assembly. Once done, start pushing the metal housing towards the ceiling.

Step 4: Attach the New Housing to Wood Joists

A fast install bracket or hanger bars come in handy in helping you secure the new housing to the wood joists.

You need to slide the hanger bars to the housing and ensure that the tabs are in the correct direction.

If you don’t have hanger bars, screw in one side of the housing to the wood joists to hold it in place.

Step 5: Join Home’s Wiring to the New Fan Motor

After the housing assembly is fortified, attach your home’s wiring to that of the exhaust fan. Some exhaust fans will need to twist the bare wire together and then a wire nut.

Other models come with quick connect that makes it possible to insert bare wires to the connectors.

Make sure that you install the cables according to the colors and check the manual for more guidance.

Step 6: Seal the Housing and Reinstall Cover

Apply caulking, steel, or foil tape to seal the housing and prevent air leaks. Then reinstall the cover or grill by inserting the clips and squeezing them.

Step 7: Turn on Power

The last step is power on the fan and checks whether it is working. A quick test that you can do is holding a toilet paper to the fan to determine if there is suction.

Check out this link to know how to replace the exhaust fan in the bathroom


Exhaust Fan Features

01. Fan Model

Just like other appliances, exhaust fans come in a wide range of models depending on their application.

Different fan models come with various features that make them best suited for a particular usage.

Hence, it is essential to first determine the intended usage of the fan before heading out to make a purchase.

02. Fan Size

This is another essential feature to keep in mind when evaluating your exhaust fan. Exhaust fans are rated and sized depending on the airflow, which is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM).

Small exhaust fans have a CFM rating of 30 to 50, while larger fans have a CFM rating of 200 to 300.

According to the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI), 1 square foot of bathroom space should be outfitted with one CFM of airflow.

03. Integrated Lighting

Most exhaust fans today feature lighting, which is handy for illuminating the space during night time.

Integrated lighting can be used as additional lighting, or they can be utilized as the sole lighting in your bathroom

04. Humidity and Motion Sensors

Thanks to technology advancement, most exhaust fan models feature smart features like humidity and motion sensors.

Humidity sensors are convenient fir bathroom exhaust fans because they monitor the humidity level to ensure that it is neither too high nor too low.

When the humidity level rises, the sensor prompts the fan to turn on and automatically turns off when the humidity level goes back to normal.

Motion sensors sense when someone enters the room. It then triggers the fan or lights to operate.

05. Energy Efficiency

If you are worried about your energy bills getting high, then you need to look for energy-efficient exhaust fans that utilize less energy when compared to regular fans.

They deliver high performance and are quieter than the standard models.

06. Noise

Of course, when you are looking for an exhaust fan, you want one that doesn’t generate a lot of noise.

Fan motors can be loud and noisy because of the blade rotation, and this can be frustrating.

The loudness of exhaust fans is usually measured in sones. Fans that have with two or fewer sones are quiet while those with four sones or more are considered noisy.

You should, therefore, keep this in mind when making your selection. Also, it’s important to note that models that generate lower sones are expensive than their counterparts.

07. Why install an Exhaust Fan on Bathrooms?

An exhaust fan can help to improve the ventilation of your home and enhance the overall comfort of your bathroom.

Here are some benefits that can be accrued from having an exhaust fan in your bathroom.

08. Improves Air Quality

Pollutants such as dust, mildew, smoke, and bacteria can all contribute to stale air in a home and cause health issues.

Exhaust fans clear out the dampness and humidity that comes from showering.

As a result, mold and mildew are kept at bay as they can result in breathing problems.

Also, these fans help to improve the air quality in your home. It vents the particulate matter that is released into the air when the toilet is flushed.

What’s more, an exhaust fan eliminates the need for chemicals, which can significantly degrade air quality.

09. Eliminates Unpleasant Odors

Another benefit of exhaust fans in the bathroom is that it helps to remove odors and leave a fresher scent.

When the fan vents out moisture from your home, there will be less mold and mildew, which will significantly lead to fresh air.

10. Reduces Expensive Home Maintenance Costs

Humidity, moisture, and water all make an excellent breeding ground for mold, mildew, and other bacteria that can wreak havoc your drywall and furniture.

By removing excess moisture and humidity from your bathroom, an exhaust fan will protect your fixtures, wall, and paint from damage, which can be costly in the long run.

This will save you a lot of time and money when it comes to maintenance of your bathroom.

WH Questions About How to Change A Bathroom Exhaust Fan Without Attic Access

Q: What is the procedure for cleaning my exhaust fan?

A: For enhanced performance, it is vital to clean your exhaust fan frequently. Here are the steps for cleaning an exhaust fan:

  • Before cleaning your exhaust fan, make sure that you switch off the circuit breaker.
  • Pull down the cover until it is several inches away from the ceiling.
  • Squeeze the metal clips inside and remove them from the slot of the housing.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to eliminate the dust that accumulated on your exhaust fan. Make sure that the vacuum is equipped with a brush dusting attachment. This is needed to clean the inside and outside of the motor and fan housing. You can also use a crevice attachment for narrow and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Once done, reinstall the fan cover by pressing the clips together. Then slip the clips over the fan housing slots and push the cover until it fits right.

Q: Where is the model number on my exhaust fan located?

A: In most cases, the model number is found on the sticker inside the housing of the fan. This, therefore, means that you need to remove the grill to see it.

Q: What is CFM?

A: CFM means Cubic Feet per Minute and is the unit measurement of the airflow exchanged in one minute. Generally, exhaust fans with high CFM are considered more powerful than those with a lower CFM.

Q: Is it possible to install my exhaust fan on the wall?

A: Yes, apart from the ceiling, exhaust fans, especially those with lights and heating function, can be mounted on the wall.