How to Replace Bathroom Fan/Light Combo

Last Updated on April 20, 2021

A new bathroom fan/light updates your space and helps with moisture that naturally builds in bathrooms. This is a simple DIY project that elevates your bathroom and leaves you feeling better about one of the most used rooms in your home.

Before Starting, Consider:

When buying a new fan/light combo for your bathroom, make sure the replacement is suitable. First, check the cubic feet per minute (CFM) that the fan pulls to ensure your space is properly ventilated. This matters less if your bathroom is very small because all fans are meant to ventilate small spaces.

You may also consider the Sone Rating because that number indicates how loud a fan will be when it is running. Loud fans are bothersome, and it may lead to less use of the fan. Sone ratings of less than 2 are most recommended because they are the quietest on the market.

What Do You Need?

  • Drop Cloth to catch dust
  • Work Light (battery powered, if cutting power to entire house)
  • Utility Knife
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Voltage Tester
  • Battery Powered Drill or Electric Screwdriver with Phillips Head Attachment

Getting Started

Look at your electric box in your home and shut off power to the bathroom circuit. If you are not sure which circuit the bathroom uses, you should cut the power to the entire unit/house to make sure you are safe from electric shock.

You need to set up the work light to ensure you have a clear view of the innerworkings of your fan. A battery-operated work light or headlamp is best, especially if you cut the power to your entire home.

Out with the Old

You must remove your old unit, and it is recommended that you do not open your new unit before the old unit is removed completely. This will keep the parts separate and make your install more streamlined.

Step 1: Remove screws to pop the exterior/decorative cover off. Note that there may be a tab or depressed area to accommodate a flat head screwdriver, which will pop the casing free of the ceiling. If the ceiling was painted after the fan/light was installed, there may be paint obstructing the casing. In this case, use a utility knife to gently cut around the fixture.

Air ventilation being attached to the ceiling

Step 2: Using your voltage tester, make sure the power is disconnected.

Step 3: You may either see the wires directly or there may be a junction box that encases the wires. Take the screws out to remove the junction box, if needed. When you see the wires, unscrew the wire caps that secure them together.

Step 4: Remove the HVAC clips or tape that secures the vent pipe to the fan vent component.

Step 5: Remove the housing screws that holds the unit to the ceiling. Gently remove them and ease the pipe from the fan housing. If the screws are not visible, the unit is secured in the attic, and you will need to go inside the attic to release the unit. NOTE: It is helpful if you have a second person to hold the fan in the bathroom if attic work is required.

opened bathroom ventilation installed on an old ceiling

Step 6: Drop the fan/light unit from the ceiling once it is completely detached. Clean up and clear the parts and fan/light pieces to keep them separate from the new fan components.

In with the New

Before starting, unpackage the new fan/light and hold it up to the ceiling to check how it aligns with the vent pipe and existing holes.

Step 1: Line up the new fan with the vent pipe. If there is a gap around it, drywall may have to be patched.

Step 2: Screw the new fan to the ceiling joists using the brackets provided. If the old fan was supported inside the attic, you will need to support the new one in the same way.

Step 3: Reconnect the wiring by matching the colored wires and using new wire nuts or electrical tape to secure the connections.

Step 4: Reconnect the ceiling exhaust hose with the new fan/light unit using the provided clips or HVAC tape.

Step 5: Install the light bulb.

Step 6: Turn on the breaker to test the new unit. If the light or fan will not run, check wire connections.

Step 7: Put the decorative/outside cover in place.

Congratulations, you have successfully replaced your bathroom fan/light. You can feel good about the improved ventilation and upgraded look in your space.

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