HOW-TO LIBRARY Thousands of Helpful How-Tos. Countless Ideas.

Installing a Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Skill Level: Intermediate
page 1 of 3

Moisture can be a problem in the bathroom. It can cause paint to peel, doors to warp and
the accumulation of mold spores. A simple exhaust fan can greatly reduce or eliminate the
many problems created by excess moisture. The details of installing your exhaust fan may
differ by model. This how-to describes the process in general. Specific installation
instructions are included by fan manufacturers with their product. Lowe’s is happy to
provide this information as a service to you.

Tools & Materials
Tools Materials
• Phillips and straight screwdrivers • Electrical cable (2-wire or 3-wire with ground NM type)
• Wire strippers/cutters • Wire nuts
• Jig saw or drywall saw • Flexible dryer vent duct
• Drill/driver • Dryer vent clamps
• Electrical Tester • Soffit vent
• Pencil • Exhaust fan unit

What Are Your Options?

Many types of bathroom exhaust fans are available, from the simplest fans, to more elaborate models with built in lights, heaters and timer
switches. Some models are designed to be mounted on the ceiling, while others are mounted to the walls.

Wiring at the Switch

Wiring at the switch should be performed after the unit has been installed. However, since your choice of switching for the installation
determines the type of cable that must be run from the switch to the fan unit, the information is included here first.

When working with electricity always:
1. Turn off the power.
2. Test the wires to ensure the power is off.
3. Lock the panel box, so no one can accidentally turn the power back on while you are working.
4. Check with local authorities to see if a permit is required.
5. Have your work checked by an inspector.
6. Wear eye goggles and a dust mask.
7. To avoid overloading the circuit, consult a licensed electrician.

Wiring Options

• Installing a fan/light combination as a replacement for an existing light fixture is an easy project. The wiring is already in place, so the
project requires no special knowledge of electrical wiring. For this installation, the light switch will operate both the fan and the light at
the same time.

• If you wish to operate the light and fan independently by separate switches, it will be necessary to run a 3-wire cable between the unit
and the existing light switch and install a double switch at the electrical box. The switches should be wired as indicated in the drawing.

Wire the cable into the existing electrical circuit at the wall switch. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions. may require that you add dams between the joists to keep the insulation a minimum distance away from the unit. Don’t vent the moisture directly into the attic.If you are replacing a light fixture with the fan unit. Simple fan installations may only require wiring bare copper to bare copper. Push the wires into the wiring box area of the housing and install the cover.HOW-TO LIBRARY Thousands of Helpful How-Tos. particularly those with lights or heaters. install the unit cover. 6. . Countless Ideas. Venting the Fan This is an important part of fan installation. white to white and black to black. This step is not necessary if you are replacing an existing fixture and do not require independent switch operation for the fan and light. If possible. Secure the fan housing in place. remove any insulation from above the area of the ceiling in which you plan to mount the fan. 5. 9. Improper venting of the fan can cause moisture problems which arise as a result of condensa- tion forming within the vent. while more elaborate units with lights and/or fans will require more connections. From inside of the bathroom. remove the existing fixture and disconnect all electrical connections. If you wish to have separate switches operating the fan and light functions. These more sophisticated exhaust fans often include their own timers and switches which are designed to fit the existing switch box. install a wooden braces between joists to provide a solid attachment point for the fan housing. your goal is to avoid moisture problems. If your unit includes a heater and/or timer. place the housing in a position which will allow you to fasten it directly to a ceiling joist. Run a length of cable from the existing light switch to the exhaust fan unit. 4. Connect the duct to the fan housing. 2. Installing a Bathroom Exhaust Fan page 2 of 3 Wiring Options • Exhaust fans with lights/heaters/and or timers may require additional cable from the existing switch box to the fan. Others. not transfer them to a different area of the house. After all. 7. Make the necessary electrical connections at the fan unit using wire nuts. Consult the manu facturer’s instructions. From the attic. Drill pilot holes in the corners. Follow the wiring diagram provided by the manufacturer. leaking around the fan and creating stains and problems in the surrounding building materials. Some units allow insulation to be right next to the housing. and cut along the lines with a drywall saw or jigsaw. 3. use 3-wire cable. Hold the housing in place against the ceiling and mark around it to define the perimeter of your cut. Attach the ground wire to the grounding clip provided on the housing. Shut off the power to the circuit before you begin any work. Lock out the circuit or the panel so no one can turn the circuit on while you are working. This condensation can run back down the duct. If this is not possible because of the location of the original light fixture. Follow the instructions of the unit’s manufacturer regarding how far away from the fan the insulation should be kept. 8. Installation 1. additional cable may be required.

and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Some fans are designed to be installed in the wall instead of the ceiling. This allows you to make the vent installation under the overhang of the roof. Installing a Bathroom Exhaust Fan page 3 of 3 Venting the Fan (cont’d) When possible. hoods with gravity-hinged dampers are installed against the home’s exterior siding immediately behind the fan. Tools. The fan unit can be connected to the soffit vent using flexible plastic duct material. errors or the outcome of any project. products. preventing the need for a roof vent. These fans are mounted on exterior walls and are ducted directly outside. Insulating the duct with insulation wrap also reduces the formation of condensation within it. techniques. The duct material is easy to cut and it is expandable. follow current codes and regulations that may apply. vent the fan through the nearest soffit. HOW-TO LIBRARY Thousands of Helpful How-Tos. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution. Just clamp one end of the duct to the vent shroud on the fan housing and the other end to the vent. Countless Ideas. These hoods are similar to the type commonly used for venting clothes dryers. For these installations. therefore. . which helps make fitting an easy task. The information in Lowe’s “How-To” clinics is intended to simplify jobs around the house. the Original Home Improvement Warehouse of How-To information for the World Wide Web. Please read our terms of use. Installing the duct horizontally across the attic reduces the possibility of condensation trickling back down around the fan. These How-To’s are provided as a service from Lowe’s. Lowe’s assumes no liability for omissions. materials. building codes and local regulations change.