The bathroom is one room in the house that would greatly benefit from a fan to get rid of humidity and bad odor. Bathroom fans are usually installed with attic access, and this also serves as the path through which the bad air is removed. What then happens if you have no attic access? You may also seek to replace your noisy bathroom fan with a quiet attic fan. This guide by SoundProofGeek will teach you how to install a bathroom fan even without attic access.
Can You Fix a Bathroom Fan Without Attic Access?
Many homeowners ask this question especially when the need to fix a bathroom fan arises in a home without an attic. Bathroom fans are very necessary as they make your bathroom comfier for you. They also help you save your furniture and other equipment that can be damaged by the high humidity that is always present in bathrooms.
Yes, you can fix a bathroom fan even without attic access. It may sound complicated, but it’s a simple procedure that’s akin to attic fan or garage fan installation. The difference will however be the connection route, but in the end it’s possible.
How to Replace a Bathroom Fan Without Attic Access
- Turn The Power Off
Safety firsr, and that’s why you will need to turn off the power from the mains to prevent electrocution. Locate the circuit breaker and turn off the power to the fan. Cross check with a non-contact voltage tester to be sure.
- Remove Cover On Bathroom Fan
To gain access to the fan, you will first need to take out the fan cover. By pulling down on the plastic cover, you will see a gap between cover and ceiling. This will give you access to the clips that hold the cover to the fan housing. Squeeze the metal clips inwards to release them and then pull the cover away.
- Remove The Fan Motor
In many cases, you will need to remove the fan motor from the fan housing because the housing is most times attached independently to the ceiling joists. You may only require a screwdriver to release the motor from the fan housing.
In some cases, the fan has an electrical plug that connects it to the motor. If this is the scenario you see, you will simply have to unplug the fan. If there is however no plug, you will have to manually disconnect the wire.
- Remove Fan Housing from Ceiling
You will most likely need to remove the fan housing as well except you will be installing the same fan model. The fan housing is usually connected to the ceiling with screws and an adjustable metal bracket screwed to the ceiling as well.
Your method of removing the housing depends on your level of access and the method of connection of the metal brackets. Usually, you may need to use a reciprocating saw to cut the bracket. Be careful however not to cause any damage to the ceiling joists.
- Disconnect Duct and Wiring from Fan Housing
The vent duct is part of the fan housing, and will need to be removed first before the housing is taken out. So after making the housing loose, you may have to push it back into the ceiling to have access to the vent duct.
To remove the wiring, you will either have to unscrew bushing or nuts. The bushing is in place to protect the wire insulating material from any damage as it passes through the metal. Once you have successfully removed the vent duct and wiring, you can then unmount the housing from the ceiling cavity.
- Re-Measure and Check the New Fan Size
After the old fan has been removed, its right that you attempt to put in the new fan housing into the cavity to be sure it fits. If it doesn’t, then you will have to create more space by breaking into the ceiling some more.
Apart from checking that the housing fits, you should also check that the housing can be secured into the ceiling joist.
- Pull The Wiring Through the Fan’s Housing
After installing the housing, pull your home’s wiring through the new fan’s junction box if there is one. After pulling the wiring through, secure it using a bushing to avoid wire damage as it brushes against the metal. You can also use grommets to protect the wire from rubbing against metal.
- Connect The Duct Connector to The Housing
The duct connector connects the duct to the bath fan. Check that the connector flaps are in the downward position when you are installing it as this allows air to go out rather than inside.
You can choose to install the duct connector by attaching to the duct using a foil tape, then line up the housing into the flapper after you have secured the fan housing to the ceiling joists. Alternatively, you can first connect the flapper to the ceiling then push the housing into the ceiling cavity. Ensure however that the duct is connected before the housing is pushed into the ceiling.
- Connect The Wiring to The Fan Motor
After securing the housing to the ceiling, you can now connect your home’s wiring to the fan. Some fans have quick connects that allow you to simply insert respective wires into the connectors. Others will require you to twist the wires on each other. Remember to connect the wires according to their colors.
- Seal The Housing and Reinstall Fan Cover
When sealing the fan housing, you can apply some caulking or foil to the edge of the housing to prevent leaks. Then reinstall the fan cover by squeezing the clips, and inserting it into the appropriate housing holes. When done, turn power on and test that your fan is functioning as it should.
How to Install a Bathroom Fan Where One Does Not Exist Without Attic Access
Unlike with a ceiling fan, you will need to take measurements before installing a bathroom fan. You can either cut your ceiling for the fan housing, or you vent the fan through an exterior wall. Either way you will need to create an access that is wide enough to contain the fan housing.
After cutting through the ceiling, bring your wiring from the circuit breaker to that point as it serves as power source to the fan. Connect the duct connector to the fan housing, and ensure that its connected with the flaps facing forward. Hold fast your fan housing to the ceiling joist.
Connect your fan wiring to your house wiring using the quick connect or by twisting the wires together. Be careful to only connect similar wires together. When done, seal the housing cover with caulking, and then put the fan over in place. Turn on the power from the mains supply and test your fan.
Final Thoughts About How to Install a Bathroom Fan Without Attic Access
Not every bathroom has an attic above it, but every bathroom needs a bathroom fan. The presence of an attic makes it more straightforward to install a bathroom fan, but the absence of an attic doesn’t mean you can’t have a bathroom fan. And so with little to no special tools, you can install a bathroom fan even without an attic.
Dave Pearson is a Canadian musician, sound editor, and audiophile. He is also the founder and owner of the website SoundProofGeek. On SoundProofGeek, Pearson offers advice and resources on audio equipment, including how to assess and improve audio quality, how to troubleshoot and repair audio equipment, and how to improve the music listening experience.