Panasonic Bathroom Vent Fan Electric Cable Fishing

This project explains the Panasonic bathroom vent fan electric cable fishing – remove the old electrical wall box and switches, then pull new NM-B 14/2 cable. This project is continued from How to Install a Panasonic WhisperFit EZ Bathroom Fan.

Project Series Index

The fan installation is covered in a four part series:

  1. How to Install a Panasonic WhisperFit EZ Bathroom Fan.
  2. Panasonic Bathroom Vent Fan Electric Cable Fishing. (You are here.)
  3. Panasonic WhisperFit EZ Fan Old Work Ceiling Mount and Junction Box Wiring.
  4. Panasonic WhisperFit EZ Fan Installation – Wall Switch Wiring.

Panasonic Bathroom Vent Fan Electric Cable Fishing

Electrical Safety: Recall the electricity was shutoff at the circuit breaker at the start of the project. Always ensure the electricity is Off before working on the wires.

Disconnect the Wall Switches

The old wall switches for the fan motor and light must be disconnected then the old double gang plastic wall box removed to pull new run of NM-B 14/2 cable for the new Panasonic WhisperFit EZ model #FV-08-11VFL5. I began by remove the wall plate and switches to expose the wires:

Remove Old Bathroom Fan Motor and Light Switches

Remove Old Bathroom Fan Motor and Light Switches

In the above photo, the “line side” ground wire from the circuit breaker was cut short and the pigtail ground wires were connected using a copper crimp sleeve. Electricians do this to save space but I find it very aggravating because it makes changes difficult. The old switches are wired using the quick & dirty back-wire (a.k.a. “back stab”) method which IMHO is a subpar connection.

Disconnect the switches by inserting the tip of small flat blade screwdriver in the slot next to the wire to release and pull out the wire:

Disconnect Fan Switch Backstab Wires

Disconnect Fan Switch Backstab Wires

After removing the switches the cables in the wall box are:

  1. NM-B 14/2 cable from the circuit breaker.
    This cable provides power to the box.
  2. NM-B 14/3 cable that connected the switches to the bath fan motor and light.
Bathroom Fan Wall Box Wiring

Bathroom Fan Wall Box Wiring

The ground wire copper crimp sleeve is cut off using diagonal cutting pliers then I untwisted the grounds using needle nose pliers.

My progress thus far with the old bathroom fan and switches disconnected:

Old Bathroom Fan Ceiling Opening and Wall Box Wires

Old Bathroom Fan Ceiling Opening and Wall Box Wires

Remove the Old Electrical Wall Box

Because it would be very difficult to fish cable from the ceiling and down the wall into the old box, I cut up the old plastic box to get it out of the wall. I used a large screw driver to pry the box and two nails off the 2×4 wall stud (easy), then cut out pieces using diagonal cutting pliers and needle nose pliers (somewhat tedious). Cut with the diagonal pliers and twist off sections of plastic with the needle nose pliers. Take care not to damage the wires or insulation:

Cutout Old Electrical Wall Box to Wire New Bathroom Fan

Cutout Old Electrical Wall Box to Wire New Bathroom Fan

When enough material was cut off the plastic box, I wiggled it out of the wall:

Remove Old Plastic Electrical Box to Fish New Cable for Bathroom Fan

Remove Old Plastic Electrical Box to Fish New Cable for Bathroom Fan

With the old box removed, I easily put my hand inside the wall to fish a new run of NM-B 14/2 cable.

Fish New Run of NM-B 14/2 Electric Cable

Recall from my wiring diagram a new run of NM-B 14/2 cable is needed for the fan switch and motor (right side of diagram). I’ll reuse the existing NM-B 14/3 cable for the fan light and light night:

Panasonic WhisperFit EZ FV-08-11VFL5 Bathroom Fan and Light Wiring Diagram

Panasonic WhisperFit EZ FV-08-11VFL5 Bathroom Fan and Light Wiring Diagram

Because I knew it would be next to impossible to pull cable across the bathroom ceiling through two floor joists and down the top plate of the wall through two 90 degree turns following the path of the existing NM-B 14/3 cable , I drilled a 4-1/4 inch hole with my Milwaukee 3/8″ arbor and 4-1/2″ hole saw in the ceiling close to the wall above the wall switches. I was careful to locate the floor joists using a stud finder and confirming the stud location by driving in a finishing nail. The hole overlaps the bottom edge of the floor joist. Why? Because I’ll install a blank off metal cover plate later to conceal the hole. It’s a lot simpler than patching a hole in the drywall!

Cut Hole in Bathroom Ceiling to Fish New Electric Cable

Cut Hole in Bathroom Ceiling to Fish New Electric Cable

Closeup of the 4-1/4 inch hole overlapping the joist. The existing run of NM-B 14/3 cable exits the joist face (right side) and goes down the wall (left side):

Original NM-B 14-3 Cable for Vent Fan in Bathroom Ceiling

Original NM-B 14-3 Cable for Vent Fan in Bathroom Ceiling

View of the NM-B 14/3 cable routing through two floor joists and down the wall:

Bathroom Ceiling Openings for Fishing New Electrical Cable for Bathroom Fan

Bathroom Ceiling Openings for Fishing New Electrical Cable for Bathroom Fan

I used a short section of fiberglass fish rod to feed orange construction string across the ceiling through the floor joists, then taped the string to the new section of NM-B 14/2 cable:

Fishing NM-B 14-2 Cable in Ceiling for New Bathroom Fan

Fishing NM-B 14-2 Cable in Ceiling for New Bathroom Fan

By gently pulling the string from the round hole while feeding the cable through the square ceiling opening on the right, I was able to fish the new cable through the joists:

Fishing New NM-B 14-2 Cable in Bathroom Ceiling

Fishing New NM-B 14-2 Cable in Bathroom Ceiling

The new cable is sticking out of the ceiling with some slack inside the ceiling (left side). I’ll feed it down the wall following the path of the existing cable:

Fish NM-B Electrical Cable from Ceiling down Wall for Bathroom Fan

Fish NM-B Electrical Cable from Ceiling down Wall for Bathroom Fan

I fed the new run of NM-B 14/2 cable bit by bit through the two 90 degree turns in the ceiling and wall. Then reached inside the switch box rough opening and pulled the cable out of the wall. The new cable is much longer than necessary – I’ll cut it to length and I can always use short sections of cable for making pigtails:

New NM-B 14-2 Cable Pulled through Ceiling and Wall for Bathroom Vent Fan

New NM-B 14-2 Cable Pulled through Ceiling and Wall for Bathroom Vent Fan

Mark and Saw the Ceiling Opening for the Panasonic Bath Fan

The old bathroom fan is smaller than the WhisperFit EZ FV-08-11VFL5, so I needed to mark a larger 10-7/8 inch square opening on the drywall ceiling per the fan installation instructions:

Enlarge Drywall Ceiling Opening for Panasonic WhisperFit EZ Fan FV-08-11VFL5

Enlarge Drywall Ceiling Opening for Panasonic WhisperFit EZ Fan FV-08-11VFL5

I’ll cut the drywall with my Stanley FatMax jab saw. Tip: Push the cables into the ceiling and off to the side to avoid damage by the saw. Have a helper hold the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner next to the saw to catch most of the dust.

Panasonic WhisperFit EZ Fan FV-08-11VFL5 - Mark Fan Body Dimensions on Ceiling Drywall

Panasonic WhisperFit EZ Fan FV-08-11VFL5 – Mark Fan Body Dimensions on Ceiling Drywall

This project is continued in Panasonic WhisperFit EZ Fan Old Work Ceiling Mount and Junction Box Wiring.

Thanks,

Bob

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