You may choose to replace the old bathroom exhaust fan for one of four reasons. The first is that the old fan has stopped working. You may also decide to replace the fan because it is too noisy or not powerful enough to properly vent the room. A final reason would be that you want to change the decor of the room and need a fan with a different look. Whatever the reason, bathroom fans are not hard to change. Unless you want something extra fancy, they are not very expensive, either.
Start the job by measuring the outer dimensions of the current fan that is installed.
If you are remodeling, this may not matter if you will need to cut a new hole for the fan anyway. However, most of the time, you will be putting the new fan into the same opening as the old fan. This will require that you purchase a new fan that will fit where the old bathroom fan now is installed. Armed with this information, you can go to the home center and buy the fan of your choice that will fit into this opening. The good news is that most bathroom fans are about the same size. You should have several from which to choose.
Carefully read the installation instructions for the new fan.
This is an important step because no matter how much experience that you have in home repair, products are constantly changing. Just one of two minor changes to the fan design can alter the installation procedure enough to be a problem if you do not read the directions. The directions will also reinforce your knowledge about removing the old fan.
Turn off the power to the old fan and get a ladder to make it easy to reach it.
After you make sure that the new fan is close enough to the size of the old fan to fit into the opening, it is time to turn off the power and get to work. The only tools you should need are a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. You might need to have a pair of needle nose pliers handy, too.
Grip the cover of the bathroom fan and pull down firmly but not with too much force.
Pulling down on the cover should cause it to lower from the fan casing. Some models snap into place. If this is the type that you have, it will simply come off when you pull it. Others will have a spring latch that will have to released once the cover has been pulled down an inch or so.
This is the type of latch that has two wires that extend in opposite directions and insert either into the cover itself or the fan casing. Either way, compress the latch and the two pins will disengage and allow you to remove the cover. Some fans have two of these latches to deal with when removing the cover. The new fan should have a new cover. So, keeping the cover will probably not be necessary.
If you are lucky, you may not have to remove the casing.
Some ceiling exhaust fans are made so that the fan can be disengaged from the casing. If this is the situation that you have, you should be able to release the fan from the casing by pushing it off of the tabs that hold it in place. Some fans have a screw or other type of fasten to deal with before they can be removed.
Once the fan is out, disconnect the wires from the back of it.
When the wires are loose, the fan should be fully free to be disposed of. Examine the case to make sure that the new fan will install into it. If it is of an older design, you may have to unscrew it from the ceiling joist to remove it. Be prepared to clean up dust and insulation if you have to remove this casing. While you there, look up the exhaust vent and make sure that it is free from debris or other things that could restrict the air flow. Most of the fans just vent into the attic. Sometimes they are covered by blown in insulation if the job was poorly done.
Install the casing if necessary. Otherwise, it is time to install the new fan.
Fasten the wires to the fan according to the manufacturer’s directions. Normally, this is just a matter of matching the colors of wires. Cover the connections with wire nuts and make sure that they are secure. Slide the new fan into place and attach it inside the casing. Attach the new cover and make sure that it fits firmly to the ceiling. Restore the power and test the fan. It should be ready to go.