Install an Exhaust Fan in a Drop Ceiling

What You'll Need
Exhaust Fan
Suspension Cable Supports and Hangers
Wire Cutters
Wire Nuts
Cable Cutters
Ferrule Clamps
Crimping Tool
Duct Hose
Duct Hose Clamps
Duct Fitting
Drywall Saw
Razor Knife (box cutter)

If your home has a drop ceiling and needs an exhaust fan, you can install it yourself. The key is to make sure your exhaust fan is properly supported.

Step 1: Decide Type of Fan

There are two types of fans for this project. The first, a standard exhaust fan, mounts directly at the ceiling and vents to the roof. With this type, you need suspension cables so the fan is not supported by the drop ceiling. The second type of fan is an inline exhaust fan. This one is mounted to a joist, with one duct running to a ceiling vent and another running to a roof vent.  

Step 2: Decide Where to Install the Fan

The fan's location can be affected by the type of fan chosen. With the inline fan, you will attach a vent plate to the ceiling that covers a hole for the duct. With a standard exhaust fan, you will cut a hole in the ceiling for the entire unit. The location for the regular fan will need it suspended straight down from a joist. Each fan type will need a junction box for power. Installation steps for both types are discussed below.

Step 3: Cut the Hole

Once you've decided the location, cut a hole the appropriate size. The hole for the inline fan should be cut the size of the duct fitting. The hole for a regular exhaust fan should be cut the size of the unit, so it rests right at the ceiling surface. Use the drywall saw or razor knife to cut the hole.

Step 4: Install the Fan

For the inline fan, the unit will need to be mounted to a joist. Run duct hose from the unit to the roof vent. Use hose clamps to secure the ends. For the regular exhaust fan, secure hangers to a joist first. Attach the suspension cables to the fan using the ferrule clamps and crimping tool. Allow enough cable so you can attach the other end to the hangers. Slowly lower the fan into place. Cut any excess cable with the cutters. 

Step 5: Wire the Exhaust Fan

Prior to wiring the exhaust fan, make sure the power is turned off. Use the wire cutters and wire nuts to wire the fan according the manufacturer's instructions. You will need to connect a wall switch for the fan.

Step 6: Final Duct Connections

Connect the duct from the standard fan to the roof vent with a hose clamp. For the inline fan, connect the duct from the fan unit to the duct coupling.

Step 7: Test the Exhaust Fan

Once the above steps are complete, it's time to test the fan. With all electric connections properly wired and secure, turn on the power and then turn on the switch for the fan.

If the fan works, you're finished. If it doesn't, review each step. Also check the manufacturer's wiring instructions.