How to Exhaust Bathroom Moisture

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Bathrooms that aren't properly vented can end up with all kinds of problems from moisture buildup, including mold and ``soft'' walls. There are several ways to vent a bathroom. One of the easist, if the bathroom has an unfinished attic above it, is to remove the ceiling light fixture and install an exhaust fan unit in its place. Minimal rewiring is required since the unit will be controlled by the same switch that currently controls the light fixture. Make sure the exhaust fan unit includes a light.

Things You'll Need

  • Indoor ladder
  • Screwdriver
  • Ceiling exhaust fan unit with an intake vent larger than your current light fixture
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Screw gun
  • Wood screws
  • Wire nuts
  • Electrician's tape
  • Hole saw the same diameter as the exhaust hose for the unit
  • Exterior ladder
  • Turn off the power to the room at the fuse box. Remove the ceiling light fixture by unscrewing the mounting screws that hold it in place and disconnecting the wires. Discard the light fixture.

  • Go into the attic and locate the electrical box for the fixture. It should be attached to joist in the open floor of the attic, with an electrical cable leading to it. Disconnect the cable by unscrewing the cable bracket that's holding the cable into the box and sliding the cable out. Set the cable aside.

  • Use your screw gun to remove the electrical box from the joist by unscrewing the wood screws holding it in place. Clear away any insulation or debris from the area to fully expose the hole left by the fixture, so you can see down into the bathroom.

  • Set your exhaust fan unit into place so that the vent opening is completely covering the hole left by the light fixture. Use a pencil to trace around the vent opening. Remove the unit and cut out the hole using your jigsaw. Put the unit back in place, and secure it to the joists on either side through the mounting brackets using wood screws and your screw gun.

  • Connect the electrical cable to the unit, securing it first through the cable bracket and then making the wire connections using wire nuts. Configurations vary, but generally you'll be connecting a black wire from the cable to a black wire from the unit, a white wire from the cable to a white wire from the unit, and wrapping the bare copper grouding wire from the cable around the green grounding screw on the unit. Wrap the connections in electrician's tape.

  • Connect the vent hose to the unit according to the instructions. (It will generally attach with a metal clamp belt that you tighten with your screwdriver.) Run the other end of the hose to the nearest external wall. Use your hole saw to bore a hole through the wall. Attach the hose end over the hole, mounting it to the wall with the provided mounting screws. Go outside, climb your ladder to the hole and install the external vent cap by screwing it directly into the siding.

  • Go back in the bathroom, and mount the provided vent cover over the ceiling hole. (It will either attach to the unit with small screws or clip on with a spring attachment.) Turn the power back on.

Tips & Warnings

  • To make cleanup easier, spread out newspapers on the bathroom floor at the start of your project to catch falling debris from the ceiling.
  • Wear eye protection when using your jigsaw. Never work on any electrical system without first turning off the power at the fuse box.

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