March 27, 2012

#186- Replacing an Exhaust Fan (Again)

Remember back when we were remodeling the Downstairs Bath and I had to tear out the ceiling to replace the bath exhaust fan and duct work?  Yeah, well back then I was certain that the exhaust fan in the Main Bath would be loads easier to replace since we have access to the attic above it.  In retrospect, that may have been my biggest miscalculation yet.  

One thing was for sure, this 30 year old fan had to go.  It was really loud and really weak.  When we discovered some mold on our insulation when we tore down the walls, we knew it was because this old guy just wasn't doing his part removing the moisture from the air.  And we don't mess around with mold in our house, not after the mold debacle in The Bungalow.

So the good news- in the Laundry Room just across the hall from the Main Bath we have this fancy little attic opening.

The bad news- the attic looks like this.

Yes my friends, that is 24" deep of cellulose insulation.  Fantastic for keeping our home efficient, not so great for accessing electrical two feet underneath it.

 So I strapped on a heavy duty ventilation mask, a head lamp, protective glasses, a tool belt with everything I would need, and a camera around my neck, (that's how we DIY bloggers role.)  I didn't take a photo of myself, mostly for fear that you would all immediately and permanently stop reading this blog.  It was frightening.  I was seriously wearing 50 pounds of gear, 25 of which were located on my face and neck.  Let's just say things were already going poorly.

I looked outside on the roof (thankfully before I put on all the get up), and found where the fan vents to the outside.  (Hooray!  At least this one has an outside vent unlike the Downstairs Bath which vented into the wall.)  Within a few moments I could see past my Darth Vader get up and found the vent tube along the side of the wall.

It's that gray plastic tube in the middle.

 I made my way to the wall with the tube, plunging up to my knees in cellulose and desperately trying to find the attic beams to walk on, and then followed the tube through the insulation to the fan.  I assume this is how parents feel when trying to dig through a ball crawl to find a kid's missing shoe.  Except the balls aren't dirty and toxic to breath, and the ceiling of the ball crawl doesn't drop dramatically with sharp, two inch nails sticking out to maim you if you misjudge the height or stand up to quick.  (I don't want to talk about it.)

Eventually I'm on my hands and knees, digging with my fingers to find the source.  Is that a treasure box?

 After more digging, and then prying of nails that held the lid to this baby down, I found the treasure exhaust fan.

Cue 20 minutes of pry bars and hammers trying to get this baby out.  Why is it in the 80's they used nails for everything, when screws would have been so much more accessible?  


I went ahead and adjusted the straps to my new fan, based on the length of the old ones, back down in the Laundry Room  before I reentered the attic.  Anything I could do down on the ground floor was bliss in comparison to attic work.

I didn't get a shot of installing the new one, mostly because I was d.o.n.e. at that point, put in brief I centered my new fan over the hole, attached the straps to the side walls of the treasure box, connected the new electrical wires, closed up the electrical wire box, closed my treasure box back up with nails and did my best to evenly recover the area with insulation as I exited.

And for all of that, this is what I have to show for it.

Yeah.  The shiny new fan doesn't look too exciting, so I just need to keep telling myself how great the high powered and whisper quiet fan will be for our brand new bathroom.  Not to mention provide more light for the previously dark and closed in space.  It always seems to happen to me that the worst projects leave the least impact on the space.  I mean no one is ever going to look up and take notice of this baby, but I guess that's the point, isn't it?


  1. Most homes have one or more extractor fans in the bathroom, but they are also good for removing cooking heat from a kitchen, humidity from a laundry room or cigarette smoke from a den or man cave.

  2. Kudos for finishing this project! :) Your old exhaust fan does look like it needed replacement already. It is important to do this as it may bring danger or even damage to the house, if it’s left in its bad condition. Anyway, it would also be a good idea to have it cleaned along with the scheduled cleaning of your house. In that way, it would even have a longer life span.

    Staci Severns

  3. Hello to the new exhaust fan! If the damage is still manageable, it's advised to consider repairs. However, in the case of that 30-year old exhaust, the decision to replace it was the best option. At least you'll be assured that, with proper maintenance, it can still last for another 30 years. Well, we hope it can last longer. :)

    Kim Ok @

  4. It's been months after the installation of your new exhaust fan. How is it going? I do hope you didn't experience any problems with this. Well, I totally agree with Kim here. You should be reminded of maintaining the fan properly so that it can last longer. If you'll have any problem with your units, don't hesitate to call your technicians. :)

  5. Each word composed has enraptured its crowd in the most remarkable way.