How to Remove a Bathroom Vent Fan

By |Last updated on |Bathroom, Heating & Air|2 Comments

The old bathroom vent fan is disassembled and removed from the attic ceiling joists prior to installing the new Panasonic WhisperCeiling vent fan. This project is continued from How to Install a Panasonic WhisperCeiling Bathroom Vent Fan.

How to Remove a Bathroom Vent Fan

The old bathroom vent fan is fairly easy to remove. The steps are:

  1. Shutoff the electricity at the circuit breaker panel.
    Never rely on a wall switch to shutoff the electricity.
  2. Detach the grille.
  3. Unplug the fan motor.
  4. Remove the fan motor plate.
  5. Disconnect the NM-B 14/2 house wiring.
  6. Pry the fan body off the attic ceiling joists.

The old fan is trash so don’t worry if you bend the sheet metal body.

The fan grille is removed by simply pulling it down and pinching the wire springs together. There’s also that sloppy too-large hole cut in the drywall ceiling which causes drafts into the attic wasting heat and air conditioning:

Remove the Old Bathroom Vent Fan

Remove the Old Bathroom Vent Fan

Disconnect the Bathroom Vent Fan Wiring

Before touching the wiring, I verified the electricity is off with my non-contact voltage detector:

Bathroom Vent Fan Removal: Verify the Electricity is Shutoff

Bathroom Vent Fan Removal: Verify the Electricity is Shutoff

You should always verify the voltage detector is working on a live circuit first; I checked the Fluke 2AC VoltAlert Voltage Detector on a wall outlet which causes the tip to glow steady red:

Fluke 2AC VoltAlert Voltage Detector

Fluke 2AC VoltAlert Voltage Detector

The Fluke 2AC doesn’t beep like my old detector, but that’s OK because you can’t always hear beeping if listening the radio or working in a noisy environment.

After unplugging the fan motor, insert the tip of a screw driver to release the metal mounting tab of the bathroom fan motor plate and drop it free:

Remove the Bathroom Vent Fan Motor Plate

Remove the Bathroom Vent Fan Motor Plate

The NM-B 14/2 wiring is located behind a sheet metal cover in the corner of the fan box; pull down on the wiring cover to remove it. Twist off the wire nuts to disconnect the house wiring from the fan motor. Also pull off the ground wire clip. Notice that NM cable clamp connector in the photo? It was sitting there completely loose causing the nutted wire connections to carry any stress in the wires – another mistake by the installer.

Bathroom Vent Fan Wiring Disconnect

Bathroom Vent Fan Wiring Disconnect

Working in the attic, I pulled the NM-B 14/2 wiring out of the fan box. Normally I would have to loosen the two screws on the NM cable clamp first, but those were never tightened! Install a wire nut on the black (hot) and white (neutral) wires for safety. The circuit breaker is shutoff but if the breaker were accidentally turned back on it would be shock/fire hazard without the wire nuts.

I next disconnected the old 3 inch vent duct. The vent duct was held by less than a full wrap of HVAC metal foil tape – shoddy work!

Remove the NM-B 14/2 Wiring from the Bathroom Vent Fan Box

Remove the NM-B 14/2 Wiring from the Bathroom Vent Fan Box

Remove the Bathroom Vent Fan from the Ceiling Joists

Because I could access the old bathroom fan from the attic, it was easy to drive a flat head screw driver under the staples and pry them off the ceiling joist. If you can’t access the attic or the fan is installed between two floors, just pry it off working from below. Take care not to let the fan fall through the ceiling after removing the staples:

Bathroom Ceiling Fan Removal - Pry off the Mounting Staples

Bathroom Ceiling Fan Removal – Pry off the Mounting Staples

The old bathroom fan box after prying it off the ceiling joist. This unit is going in the trash can:

Bathroom Vent Fan Removal from the Attic Ceiling Joist

Bathroom Vent Fan Removal from the Attic Ceiling Joist

This project is continued in Panasonic WhisperCeiling Vent Fan Old Work Installation Steps.

Take care,

Bob Jackson

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2 Comments

  1. Jamesc May 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    During the replacement of my “builders special” bathroom fan, I discovered why it was not working in spite of all the noise it made – the flap to allow air out through the vent was glued shut via the texture sprayed to the dry wall.

    In hindsight, I should have inspected it first, but glad I replaced the fan anyways, as it was loud enough to qualify for server equipment in a data center!

    • Bob Jackson May 5, 2014 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      …glued the backdraft damper shut with drywall texture… that’s a new fail! Thanks for sharing.

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