Buying and Installing Bathroom Exhaust Fans

hand near a ceiling exhaust fan
  • 2-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 75-250
What You'll Need
A bathroom exhaust fan kit
A handsaw or reciprocal saw
Carpentry tools
What You'll Need
A bathroom exhaust fan kit
A handsaw or reciprocal saw
Carpentry tools

Many people buy older homes and find they need to install a bathroom exhaust fan because it was not part of the original house design or the current one needs an upgrade. The project is easy and can be accomplished in a few weekend hours. Once installed, a bathroom exhaust fan will remove unwanted odors and shower-produced steam. It can also help prevent the accumulation or mold and mildew.

Step 1 - Determine Type

Select the type of bathroom exhaust fan you want. Although normally simple in design and appearance, fans can offer different filtering systems targeting the reduction of allergens and dander. Others simply power air out from the room. Check online for the manufacturers sales. Comparison shop the different brands to gain a better perspective of the costs associated with the fans. Check your local home builder stores because you may be able to find closeout sales or discontinued items that are less expensive. Be careful when purchasing the items because the cost of the replacement parts can be high. Also, review the hardware parts necessary for the kit to be sure you have all the pieces included.

Step 2 - Location

man installing an exhaust fan

You may select either a ceiling or exterior wall-mounted unit to install. Ceiling mounts ventilate directly into the attic area above or through a duct system escaping outside.

Most bathroom exhaust fans will include a template to use for marking the area to cut a hole for your bathroom exhaust fan. Make sure to allow about a 1/8-inch from the template edge for a little wiggle room.

Step 3 - Install Duct and Wiring

If you are using a duct ventilating operation, make sure to connect it to the roof soffit. A wiring schematic should accompany the bathroom exhaust fan you have purchased. You should be able to connect the fan wiring to the same connection the room lighting fixture uses. Since the fan requires low voltage power, you will not need a direct wiring connection needed for larger units. However, any failure with the lighting fixture that trips a circuit breaker will also turn off the fan. Make sure all wiring connections are safely secured using the wire nuts provided with the kit.

A Few Tips To Remember

  • Make sure the baffle leading air outside is pointed downward to prevent rain, snow and other elements from entering your home.
  • Make sure you are completely aware of your home’s electrical wiring system before attaching any new element or appliance needing a power source.
  • Use caution when drilling and cutting into walls or ceilings to avoid electrical wiring, nails, screws or other objects that you do not want to cut.
  • Use protective eyewear.

An exhaust fan will provide you with a healthier living environment and can increase the value of your home.