If you need to remove a bathroom fan housing, you’ve got two options. First, you could hire a contractor, but we’ve got the second option if you are the DIY type. You can do it yourself!
Today, we will walk you through the steps to do exactly that, but we want to state that if you aren’t comfortable with the steps we’ve outlined here, then hiring a contractor is a good idea.
You can do a lot of damage if you are unsure about the process, and you might need to fiddle around in the attic, so if you aren’t comfortable with the steps, consider hiring a pro. That said, if you know your way around the house and you are DIY inclined, then here are the steps that you’ll need to get the job done!
How To Remove Bathroom Fan Housing – Step-by-Step
1. Safety First: Disconnect the Power
The first step in the process is going to be safety-related. We can’t start digging around into the assembly while the power is still live, so we’re going to need to cut it off completely. The easiest way to do this is to be by flipping the appropriate switch in your breaker box.
If you aren’t sure which switch to flip, the way that you can tell is to try switches until your bathroom no longer has power. Once this has happened, verify that the power is off with some small tests. Most importantly, when you flip the switch that typically powers the bathroom fan, it should remain silent.
Once you’ve verified this when we are ready for the next step.
Read Also: Bathroom Exhaust Fan Venting Options
2. Remove the Cover
Note: If you have a light lens in your bathroom fan assembly, please skip the next step.
Now that we’ve taken power offline, it is safe to proceed to our next step, and this is going to be removing the cover from the exhaust fan.
If you don’t have a light as part of your bath fan’s assembly, then this is easily done, typically by just pulling the grille or the fan cover firmly down so that it opens about ½ of an inch, enough to get your fingers into it.
This will let you pull it open just a wee bit more to access two metal clips that should be present within the assembly. Once these are exposed, it is a simple matter of pressing them together/towards each other, and once this is done, they should release their hold on the grille, and we may safely remove it.
Remove the Cover when you have a Light Lens
If you have a light lens as part of your bathroom fan assembly, then the steps for removing the grille are going to be slightly different. Some assemblies have a ‘pinch removal’ system for the central light, which will allow you to lightly squeeze the central light lens to unclip it from the assembly so that you may pull it out.
At this point, we need to look for a nut that may (or may not) be present, depending on your model. This will typically be located either in the area where you just removed the light lens cover, or it may be visible already and located at the central portion of your bathroom fan assembly.
Once you loosen and remove this nut, you should be able to pull the grille and the light covers off as one piece.
3. Take Out the Fan Assembly
While there will be some exceptions, most bathroom exhaust fans currently on the market will host the fan assembly as a separate unit that you will need to remove to proceed to remove the bathroom fan housing.
If you are lucky, then this may be a matter of locating the power outlet to uncouple the fan housing from it. Some units, however, may require that you sever the connection directly from the wiring, most commonly by the removal of wire nuts that are holding the wiring fast to complete the power circuit.
Once this wiring is removed, then the bathroom housing may be taken out, though if you think that you need to replace the fan assembly, then you can check it for the part number which should be present at this point so that you may order a replacement which you can install in the old one’s place.
If you are comfortable with electrical wiring and planning to do the rewire yourself, you can clip the existing wires at this point. Still, you must be careful to leave enough wire present so that when you redo the wiring nuts, you’ll have enough wire-slack to work with.
At this point, you’ll likely have anywhere from 1 to 3 screws that are present that will need to be unscrewed and likely a few more ‘pinch clips’ that will need a little pressure to allow release and remove your fan assembly for the next step.
Read Also: Bathroom Exhaust Fan Code Requirements
4. Remove the Metal Housing
Once we’ve taken out the fan assembly, the next step will be to remove the metal housing and possibly, of a bracket that may or may not be present depending on your specific setup. Again, this will depend on the manufacturer of your bathroom exhaust fan. Some manufacturers opt to secure the housing to a ceiling joint using a metal bracket.
In other cases, you may secure the housing directly to the ceiling joists WITHOUT the bracket. However, whether or not a bracket was employed, we will need to remove the housing, which is generally going to require a visit to the attic.
Note: Attics can be dangerous, so take every safety precaution necessary. Due to the high fiberglass content, you will want to use a facemask to keep it out of your lungs and carefully restrict your movement to avoid causing any hairline cracks in your drywall ceiling or the possibility of falling through the floor! If you have not done this before, consider a contractor as the potential for costly damage is high.
We should note at this point that not all housing is going to require you to make a risky trip into the attic. So if you can remove the housing directly from the bathroom itself, we can go ahead and do it at this point.
Finally, there is another option if you don’t have access to the attic and the housing doesn’t have an apparent means of removal from the bathroom itself. If you have a reciprocating saw and you are comfortable with its use, then you may remove the housing by sawing it free.
After that, be sure to remove any screws or nails from the bracket or the joists, and we are ready to proceed.
5. Disconnect the Duct
Now that we’ve detached the housing, the easiest way to remove the duct will be to lift your housing into the existing or newly-cut cavity so that we may carefully adjust the housing until we can see the duct. Look for either a zip tie that we’ll need to clip or some tape affixing the duct to the housing adapter.
Once we’ve clipped the tie or removed the tape, we should be able to carefully remove the duct and move on to our next step.
6. Disconnect Electrical Wiring
Now that you’ve removed the duct, then we’re almost to the finish line. Our next step is going to be removing the wiring from your fan housing. This wiring will likely be attached using a metal or a plastic bushing and once you’ve located this, turn it counter-clockwise, which will loosen it sufficiently to proceed.
If there is also a wiring cover present, we’ll need to remove this as well, but depending on your setup, this may or may not be present. Once we’ve loosened up that wiring, we need to pull it away to expose our target… your fan housing.
Now we’ve just got one step to go, and we’re done.
7.Remove the Fan Housing
Once we’ve got the duct and the wiring out of the way, it’s time to finish this up by removing the actual fan housing. Again, we’re going to take it out of the ceiling through the hole we have present in the ceiling by carefully angling it through.
If the hole isn’t wide enough, you may need to widen it an additional 1 to 2 inches with your handy drywall (keyhole) saw so that you may tilt it a bit and lower it down.
Congratulations, We’re done!
So, there you have it. The steps we have outlined today should be all you need to remove your bathroom exhaust fan housing safely. Just be sure to follow each step carefully, and if you need to spend time in the attic, don’t forget your mask.
You should be able to remove your bathroom fan housing so that you may install a new one or fix up the current one and then get on to your next project!