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10 Step Guide To Ensure Your Bathroom Has Proper Ventilation

Charlene loves all things home related and has a wide range of knowledge/skills learnt day-to-day as a caregiver, home-maker, mom and wife



Bathroom ventilation is analogous to bathroom exhaust fans. A bathroom fan sucks out the excess humidity that builds up in a steamy room, replacing it with cool dry air from outside. It keeps the room comfortable and prevents mold or mildew growth.

Though many bathrooms come equipped with an exhaust fan, some do not, especially in older homes where this was not a common building code requirement. Installing one, however, is easy and inexpensive. And by keeping the air in your bathroom fresh and dry, it will make your bathroom more inviting for use.

You Will Need: A light-switch timer if you do not have a wall switch; power drill; wire stripper; wire nuts; stubby screw drivers; flat-head screw driver.

Steps to Ensure Your Bathroom Has Proper Ventilation:

Step 1

Turn off the power to the bathroom at the breaker box by flipping the corresponding switch for your home's wiring. Alternatively, use a light-switch timer so you can leave it on when you go in and out of the bathroom. This will reduce the risk of electric shock and you won't have to remember to turn off the power every time you leave the bathroom.


Step 2

Remove the current fan unit or place a towel on top of it if it is hung from the ceiling and tape around it to prevent dust and other debris from falling into your light fixture while you work. It is best to remove the unit but if it is too large of an undertaking you can just cover it with a towel or blanket, tape this in place and then remove it after installation of the new fan.

Step 3

Remove the old mounting bracket by simply unscrewing it using your screwdriver. If you cannot do so, you may need to remove the light fixture from the ceiling by unscrewing it and then unclipping the wiring. After you have done this, use a wire stripper or utility knife to strip back about two inches of insulation from the black and white wires at the point where they connect to the light fixture and fan unit.

Step 4

Connect the black wire to the white wire, the white wire to the bare copper grounding wire. Strip back about two inches of insulation from each of these wires and twist them together into a "wire nut" using your needle-nose pliers. If you don't have any needle-nose pliers, you can just twist the wires together by hand.

Step 5

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Mount the new fan unit to the ceiling and secure it in place using your screwdriver. The bracket should be positioned so that is part of it extends out from the wall and will fit into the opening of the fan unit when you later go to install them together. If doing this, you can use a wrench to tighten any screws or bolts that need it. You may also use a stud finder to mark the location of wall studs so you can secure the unit to them rather than just screwing it into drywall and risking a fire hazard.


Step 7

Trace around your old light fixture onto a piece of insulation and cut it out with a utility knife so it has the same dimensions as your new fan unit. For instance, if you are installing a ceiling-mounted exhaust fan in an old bathroom with no ventilation, you will need to cut out a large circular piece of insulation that is essentially flush against the ceiling. This will also work for any other type of mounting location.

Step 8

Cut a rectangular slot out of the insulation piece, long enough to accommodate your power cord. You can also create a hole for this if you have no high-temperature wire nuts left.

Step 9

Test the new fan unit by plugging in the power cord and turning it on at the wall switch or light timer you installed earlier. If all is well, turn off the switch or timer and unplug your fan unit.


Step 10

Turn on the power to your bathroom at the breaker box or wherever you have it switched off (or use the light-switch timer) and test again to make sure everything is working properly. Then go back up to step 1, remove any insulation that got in the way of the fan or light, plug it back in and turn on the switch or timer to test it again.

If you use a light-switch timer, remember that it will only work if your bathroom is clear of any potential obstructions. This includes insulation blown into the lights or fans as well as anything blocking any vents or windows. If you suspect you may forget to turn your lights off, make sure the timer is set to the "on" position instead of "auto." If there are no windows or vents near where you intend to install the fan unit, use insulation.

It's not pretty but it will do the job!


If at any time during this process you see sparks or hear something that sounds like electrical arcing, turn off the power to your bathroom immediately. This may be a sign you are dealing with wiring damage which is not covered in this article and will need to be fixed by a professional electrician.

If you did everything correctly, congratulations! You now have an exhaust fan for your bathroom that will keep the air clean and healthy in your home.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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