How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan (2022)

Installing a bathroom fan is the solution you need for spaces that never seem to get dry. Moisture-laden air is the enemy of bathroom paint, windows, doors, window sills, and fabrics such as towelsand curtains. Expelling bathroom moisture and odors makes for a far more pleasant bathroom experience for all.

While bathroom exhaust fan installation is not the easiest home improvement project, the bulk of the work is centered around the physical rigors of standing on a ladder and working above your head, along with the more taxing work of crouching in your attic while wearing a dust mask or respirator. Aside from the physical work, bathroom vent fan installation is not difficult to understand, as it involves only one 120V power source and one run of flexible ducting that extends no more than 6 feet.

Tip

According to many building codes, bathroom exhaust fans are not required. A bathroom window that is at least 3 feet square in area and which opens halfway can substitute for exhaust fans in many municipalities. Section R303 of theInternational Residential Codediscusses light and ventilation regulations. If you wish to use a window in place of a fan, verify this plan with your local permit office.

Before You Begin

Two issues often concern homeowners taking on this project: power and venting to the outside. Most residential bathroom fans use AC 120V electrical lines. These instructions offer tips for finding live electrical cables and running them to the correct location.

Venting means that after air from the bathroom is drawn into the exhaust fan, it is blown through a connected flexible duct and out of the house through a hole in the side of the house or roof. Since this is a new installation, not a replacement, your bathroom will not have ducts in place. However, as long as you can access the attic area above the bathroom ceiling, you will be able to route the flexible tubing outside.

Turn off the electricity to the existing ceiling lightby flipping off the circuit breaker at the service panel. Locate your attic access door and enter it via the ladder, bringing your respirator and your portable light with you.

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Click Play to Learn How to Properly Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan

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Equipment / Tools

  • 6-foot ladder
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask or respirator
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Cordless drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Pencil
  • Drywall jab saw
  • Stud finder

Materials

  • 1Bathroom exhaust fan
  • 6foot flexible ducting
  • 1Aluminum foil tape
  • Screws
  • 1Round wall vent or roof vent cap
  • Exterior grade silicone caulk
(Video) How To Bathroom Exhaust Fan Installation / How to Exhaust Fan Installation / Fan Unboxing

How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan (1)

  1. Find or Establish the Power Source

    The bathroom vent fan will be installed in the ceiling. You may already have power running to the exact point where you intend to install the bathroom vent fan. Depending on your local electrical code, you may be able to share your bathroom lighting circuit with the fan. The bathroom lighting circuit usually supplies power to your bathroom's ceiling light. Alternatively, you can substitute the light for a fan/light combination.

    If your code requires you to run a dedicated circuit for the fan, you can run a new cable from the service panel to the bathroom ceiling area. If you do not feel comfortable establishing new circuits and working with the service panel, this would be time to contact an electrician to complete this task.

    How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan (2)

  2. Locate the Vent Point

    Air exhausted by the fan must exit outdoors. Thus, you will need to run a duct from the fan to either the roof or a side wall. If at all possible, run the flexible ducting to a wall, as this helps you avoid shingle work and the possibility of roof leaks.

    (Video) Bathroom Exhaust Fan Installation || ceiling exhaust fan || exhaust fan bathroom कैसे लगाएं

    Ideally, the rule of thumb for vent location is to choose a spot that is a direct route from the fan to the outside and 6 feetor less away from the bathroom fan to the exit point. The vent fan needs to be in the bathroom interior, not in a hallway, and should be located close to the shower, tub, or shower/tub combination, as this is the area that produces the most moisture. The duct leading from the vent should be as straight as possible to avoid sharp bends that can impede airflow.

    Drill a locator hole at the center of the intended location.

    How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan (3)

  3. Cut the Exterior Vent Location

    Depending on where you intend to exhaust to the exterior, access either the wall or the roof of the house.

    Bring your round vent (for walls) or vent cap (for roofs).Also bring your reciprocating saw, cordless drill, pencil, and silicone caulk. Situate the round vent or vent cap across the locator hole. With the pencil, scribe a circle where the vent or cap will fit.

    Use the reciprocating saw to cut the circle, with the locator hole as a start point for the saw blade. Attach the round vent or roof cap with screws, first applying silicone caulk to ensure a watertight fit.

    On a roof, you will need to slip the flashing of the roof cap under the shingles above the midsection of the vent opening to ensure a watertight installation. This may require removing some shingle nails and/or trimming the surrounding shingles to fit around the roof cap.

    How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan (4)

  4. Cut the Interior Opening for the Bathroom Fan

    From below, use the stud finder to locate the joists in the bathroom ceiling and lightly mark with a pencil.

    If the fan comes with a paper template, use the template to mark the intended location of the fan in the ceiling.If there is no template, use the metal fan housing itself (leave the fan assembly out for now). Many bathroom fans screw directly to the side of the joist. If so, place the template or housing parallel to a joist when making the cut lines.

    Cut out the drywall carefully with the jab saw.

    How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan (5)

    (Video) Bathroom exhaust fan installation/havells exhaust fan unboxing#michaeltechnical
  5. Attach the Bathroom Fan to the Joist

    Access the attic and bring your light, cordless drill, screws, and bathroom fan housing. Place the fan in the cut-out hole so that the bottom edge of the fan is flush with the bottom of the ceiling drywall. You will need a partner for this step, as you cannot see the ceiling from this position.

    Screw the fan into the side of the joists with the cordless drill. If you cannot use the side of a joist as an attachment point, your fan may come with suspension brackets. If not, you can purchase these separately. Brackets will allow the fan to be suspended in a position that is not adjacent to a joist.

    While you are still in the attic, fit the electrical wire through the side of the housing so that roughly 7 inches of the wire extends into the housing.

    How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan (6)

  6. Route the Bathroom Fan to the Exterior

    Go back down to the bathroom and verify the vertical placement of the fan. Gather your flexible ducting and aluminum foil tape and take it back into the attic. Use the foil tape to attach the flexible tubing to the fan and the vent. (Your fan or ducting may come with mechanical fasteners for attaching the duct to use instead of foil tape.) Ensure that the tubing runs as smoothly and directly as possible.

    How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan (7)

  7. Attach the Bathroom Fan to the Housing

    In the bathroom, insert the fan unit into the housing, per the manufacturer's instructions. At this point,you will strip the ends of the electrical wires and hard-wire them into the unit. Typically, either a bare wire or green wire will attach to the side of the metal housing for grounding, a critical safety measure.

    Attach the fan grille to the face of the housing. Turn the circuit breaker back on. Return to the bathroom and test the fan by turning on the switch.

    How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan (8)

FAQs

Do bathroom exhaust fans need to be vented outside? ›

Bathroom fan installation requires outside ventilation. If the fan isn't accessible through an attic, you'll need to vent through a sidewall of your house. These types of ducts and vents are typically installed when the house is built. If you don't have a duct leading to a sidewall vent, call a professional for help.

Can I install a bathroom fan myself? ›

Whether you need to install a new wall bathroom exhaust fan or a ceiling bathroom exhaust fan, bathroom fan installation is a project you can do yourself.

Should I vent my bathroom fan through the room or through the wall? ›

Why do Bathroom Fans Need Venting Outside? Bathroom fans should always vent outside rather than through the ceiling and into your attic. Venting your bathroom fan into a wall cavity or attic runs the risk of mold growth. Building codes require new homes to vent bathroom fans outside the house.

What is the point of a ductless bathroom fan? ›

Like other types of bathroom fans, ductless bathroom exhaust fans are designed to ensure that the bathroom is free of all sorts of odor. Typically, these fans work by processing the air so that they can remove the odors easily and quickly.

How much does it cost to have an electrician install a bathroom fan? ›

Installing a new bathroom exhaust fan costs $200 to $800 in labor alone and requires electrical wiring, ductwork, venting, and sometimes roof work. Most electricians and handymen charge $40 to $100 per hour to install bathroom fans and take 4 to 8 hours.

Do I need an electrician to install a bathroom exhaust fan? ›

Installing a bathroom fan in a room that doesn't currently have one is a significant job because you'll need to have an experienced contractor fit the wiring and run air ducts to vent the air out of the room through the wall or roof. You'll need to have an electrician request the permit and install the fan for you.

How do you vent a bathroom with no outside access? ›

Installing a ceiling vent is probably the most efficient way to ventilate a bathroom with no outside access. A ceiling vent is a unique machine that allows air to escape from the bathroom. In other words, it's a machine that, like an open window, allows moisture to escape from your bathroom.

What size exhaust fan do I need for my bathroom? ›

Choose a fan that can ventilate at least 1 CFM per square foot of room. So, for an 80 square foot bathroom, select an 80 CFM fan. For bathrooms 50 square feet and smaller, it's recommended you purchase a bath fan designed for small rooms. In other words, choose under 79 CFM bath fans.

Can you put an exhaust fan above a shower? ›

You can place the fan directly over the bathtub or shower base, but it's sufficient to position it anywhere near the bathing area. If the bathroom has both a tub and shower, or a shower and a whirlpool tub, the fan should go somewhere between the two fixtures.

Where is the best place to vent a bathroom fan? ›

The fan exhaust must vent directly to the exterior of the home. Do not put the vent termination in a roof overhang or soffit. Don't put it on a wall near or under a roof overhang. The moist air that's belched out by the fan can be sucked right up into the open soffit vents and be drawn into your attic.

What is code for venting a bathroom fan? ›

The IRC states in section 1504.3 that bathroom fans should terminate at least 10-ft away from vent intake openings.

Is it OK to vent a bathroom exhaust fan into the attic? ›

No, you should not vent a bathroom fan directly into an attic. The problem with venting into the attic is that the moisture-rich air may form droplets on the wood sheathing, insulation, rafters, and ceiling joists, leading to mold growth.

Is it better to vent bathroom fan through roof or soffit? ›

Whether it's new construction or a remodel, a bathroom vent should always vent through the roof instead of an eave, overhang, or soffit. The point of a bathroom exhaust vent, or any vent really, is to remove hot, moist air from the house.

How long can a bathroom fan vent pipe be? ›

Generally a 4 inch flex duct can carry a fan exhaust for up to 25 ft. Most codes require that.

Are bathroom fans worth it? ›

Humidity sensing bathroom fans are worth it because they automatically control bathroom humidity. Most people turn off the bathroom fan too soon after taking a shower. Over time this will lead to moisture damage.

Will a ductless bathroom fan remove moisture? ›

Ductless bathroom fans are good at their intended purpose of mitigating odors. Ductless bathroom fans are quiet and energy-efficient solutions but they will not remove moisture.

How much does it cost to vent a bathroom fan outside? ›

Venting through a wall with ducts costs $200 in labor, with $150 for the fan and parts for a total of $350. Venting directly outside through a wall costs between $130 and $600, depending on the wall's thickness, cut complexity, and size.

What is code for venting a bathroom fan? ›

The IRC states in section 1504.3 that bathroom fans should terminate at least 10-ft away from vent intake openings.

How do you vent a bathroom with no outside access? ›

Installing a ceiling vent is probably the most efficient way to ventilate a bathroom with no outside access. A ceiling vent is a unique machine that allows air to escape from the bathroom. In other words, it's a machine that, like an open window, allows moisture to escape from your bathroom.

Where do bathroom exhaust fans vent to? ›

Now, if you were to ask where “should” bathroom fans be vented to, the answer is to the outside of the house.

Is it OK to vent bathroom into attic? ›

No, you should not vent a bathroom fan directly into an attic. The problem with venting into the attic is that the moisture-rich air may form droplets on the wood sheathing, insulation, rafters, and ceiling joists, leading to mold growth.

Does an electrician need to install a bathroom fan? ›

Your plumber may also be able to install or repair a bathroom fan for you or recommend someone who can do the job. However, a simple fan installation is usually performed by an electrician.

How far can you run a bathroom exhaust fan duct? ›

Generally a 4 inch flex duct can carry a fan exhaust for up to 25 ft. Most codes require that.

Can you put an exhaust fan above a shower? ›

Exhaust fans with a UL listing for installation over a tub or shower on a GFCI circuit can be installed over a tub or in a shower. This applies to most Air King exhaust fans and exhaust fans with light. Units that include any type of heating function to them are not able to be installed over a tub or shower.

Videos

1. How To Install A Bath Exhaust Fan | DIY
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2. How To Replace And Install A Bathroom Exhaust Fan From Start To Finish For Beginners! | Easy DIY
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4. Bathroom Ventilator | How to Bathroom Ventilator Installation | Havells Exhaust Fan uPVC Louver Fan
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5. How to Replace Your Bathroom Fan Quickly With NO Attic Access! DIY
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