Bathroom ceiling vent has a fan cover, and a duct behind it but no wiring. What does that do?


I'm planning a renovation where the ceiling over the shower is vaulted to the rafters (see elevation below). Where is the optimal or recommended place to put a vent fan in this scenario? The rafters will be filled with closed cell foam.

The area on the top left side of the wall is attic space (where the current fan -pre-renovation- is already ducted). Is it reasonable to mount the fan in that, i.e. on its side? If I do, it seems like there will always be some small amount of space up to the peak that will be above the fan's intake - problem?

Is the best case just to build out a chase in the peak to flatten it out just enough to mount the fan unit in the expected horizontal...

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IMO, and IME, bathroom fans should always be vented outside. Bathrooms are one of the biggest (if not the biggest) producer or water vapor in your home. When water vapor is trapped is can cause things like mold, mildew, damage to furniture, added difficulty in conditioning the air, and many more.

Just because a bathroom vent is not currently vented to the outside, does not mean it can't ever be. The house I'm currently living in had no ceiling exhaust fan or light (just a vanity light).

In this situation I was able to wire in and install a new unit, with manufacturer recommended vent line and exhaust this line through the closest soffit.

Depending on the layout and positioning of your bathroom, you could run through above joist spaces until you reach a soffit, run into the attic and then out a vent, or simply through the nearest exterior wall. Many times the shortest route is the simplest.

If this is something you aren't comfortable with, I highly...

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I wouldn't bother with making smoke—at least not initially. If this is in an apartment or condo, that might set off a smoke alarm.

The surefire solution is to poke your head up into the attic with a bright hand held light. If you can't see the bathroom fan area from the access opening, you'll have to crawl through the attic until you are close enough. Attics are not usually made for careless movement through them: you might have to temporarily install pieces of plywood, 2x6s 4–6 feet long, etc. so you can lay a safe trail to get there. If you don't, you risk falling through the ceiling.

If there is no attic, such as in a multistory apartment building, maybe you could rent an inspection scope (like this) and poke it through the fan into the duct and see what you can see. There are only two or three possibilities: 1) the duct is clogged or collapsed, 2) the vent box knockout was never removed and not ducted anywhere, or 3) the far end of the duct is pinched or...

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Okay, I moved into this new apartment and quickly noticed that due to the condensation build up on the walls and ceiling from the shower that something was wrong with the ceiling mounted bathroom exhaust fan. I pulled off the cover and saw that it wasnt plugged in. I plugged it in and found out why it was unplugged in the first doesnt lift up the duct back-flow plate.

I took out the motor assembly and inspected the plate. It isnt obstructed by anything and should lift fine.

I inspected the motor assembly and it looks okay but the fan blade looks really small. It measures
3 3/4 inches across. The ceiling hole diameter measures 6 3/4 inches.

I plugged the motor in and found that the airflow doesnt blow up. Some of it goes to the side and most of it goes down...which would be back into the bathroom. This explains why the duct plate wasnt lifting up.

I took the fan blade off and flipped it over...hoping to reverse the direction of air...

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It's possible to get replacement bare motors sometimes. Broan are good about having replacement bases -fan/motor, that fit into the existing box. They have a plug/socket, so you don't have to do any wiring.

That being said, I just replaced one, and it turned into quite a big job because the replacement base was more than a whole new unit.

I put in a new one, which meant a bit of carpentry etc because the boxes were different sizes.

I had to cut the nails/screws holding the old one in, and insert the new box from below, which required a bigger hole, and careful saw cuts in addition to allow for the nailing tabs. The fan cover covers the repairs from it, in the ceiling.

The insulation around the duct had no vapour/air barrier so I used a mylar bubblewrap product and foil tape for it. Since the house was old enough to not have had an vapour bag around it, I built one with the mylar stuff and sprayfoamed it in. Lastly I decided the fan should have its own...

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Adding a bathroom vent fan can help to reduce odors and moisture in the enclosed space. There are many different sizes of fans available and some units include lights and heat. The process requires installing a duct, through an adjacent wall or the roof so the moist air vents outside the house.

Cut the Opening

Avoid installing bathroom fans over the shower or bathtub. Once you determine where you want the unit, use a stud finder to locate the ceiling joists. Use the template the manufacturer supplies with the fan to mark the cutting lines. Drive a 16-penny nail at each corner of the marks so the nail extends into the attic. In the attic, move back the insulation to locate the nails. Use a straightedge, and connect the four corners then cut through the ceiling using a drywall saw.

Install the Fan Housing

Insert the fan housing into the opening from the bathroom. Use screws to attach it to the ceiling joists. Go back into the attic, and cut the...

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Bathroom ceiling fans serve a few important functions, including removing odors and moisture from the air. There are a few different types of bathroom ceiling fans available on the market today, which can be mounted on the ceiling, or away from the bathroom completely. Many times, a bathroom exhaust fan can also be purchased with extra features.

Bathroom ceiling fans are often mounted right into the ceiling. These units are typically combined with the vent and fan all in one. When the fan runs, it draws odors out of the air, as well as moisture, which can cause decay and mildew.

Many traditional bathroom ceiling fans can be turned on by a switch wired into the existing electrical lines. This switch can often be placed near the light switch, or anywhere else that is convenient. Other bathrooms ceiling fans may have a switch on the fan unit itself. These can be a pull chain or, if the ceiling is low enough, some sort of toggle switch.

Remote, or inline, bathroom...

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originalcause: Question: How far from the bathroom window does the "fart fan" vent outlet have to be? My plumber said he didn't know, but he knew that code says it can't come out right above the window, or else the odors would right come back in through the window!

Aaron Boyle: PS- I stumped a veteran HVAC installer (25+ years) who's never installed a remote/in-line exhaust fan because I wanted to do it the "right" way, not the contractor-grade way. It was quite frustrating, anyway, having and obvious way to bridge the gap between a 4" inner diameter for PVC and a 3 7/8" outer diameter for a fan collar. May just suck it up and install with insulated flexiduct.

Aaron Boyle: Good start to a longer topic. For example, I'm installing an in-line/remote exhaust system in my bathroom and want to use either PVC or metal duct. The problem with PVC is in the sizing, sorted by inner diameter (e.g. 4", 6", etc). It doesn't fit any of the remote fans without a rubber gasket or improper...

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Before you cut your outside duct opening, drill one pilot hole and stick an object through the opening to flag the location. Go to the exterior of your home and make sure there are no obstructions or potential problems that would be caused by water vapor emitting from the duct in that location.

Use a reciprocating saw or a 4-inch hole saw to cut the opening. Secure the duct cover to the exterior, and seal around the perimeter. Install a duct cover or vent cap with a damper to prevent back drafts and insect infestation.

Although you can use flexible aluminum or plastic duct (check your building codes), rigid galvanized pipe provides a more durable installation. Rigid pipe also allows for better airflow and quieter operation. If the location is too tight for rigid pipes, use a combination of the materials. Seal all pipe connections with foil duct tape.

When installing the duct, slope the pipe 1/4 inch for each foot of the run. This will ensure that condensation...

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Residential building codes in much of the country, include the code for California, require the installation of a bathroom fan in any room containing a bathtub, shower or spa. You may have to retrofit a fan and run its electrical power supply off an existing light, especially if venting the fan directly outside the wall proves simpler than running a new duct above the ceiling, which is what you would have to do for a ceiling light-fan combined fixture. While many homeowners might prefer to have the fan and existing light run off separate switches, having them run off the same switch can work just fine. A single switch means you -- or the youngsters in the family -- won’t forget to use the fan while showering or bathing.

Turn off the circuit breaker controlling the bathroom you plan to work on. Flip the light switch on and off to test preliminarily that the circuit is off.

Mount a ladder or stepladder and remove the light globe or cover from the existing light fixture...

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Intermittent Extraction v Continuous Ventilation

Despite changes in trend in recent years, intermittent extractor fans are still by far the most common type of air movement device. Intermittent extraction is the movement of air at specific times of need when air is polluted or full of water vapour - for example when someone is cooking or taking a shower. Crucially, the ventilation unit, either manually or automatically, switches on and off - it does not run all the time.

Continuous ventilation has become more popular in recent years as the Building Regulations - particularly Part F (Ventilation) - have demanded greater control over the air coming into and out of properties. Specifically, as buildings have become better insulated and more air tight, in the drive for more efficient energy usage, they suffer more often from lack of fresh air. Before double glazing and precision engineering natural drafts kept our buildings ventilated and in the absence of this natural...

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I'm in the UK. I believe this house was built in the late 90's. The bathroom (and toilet) both have ceiling fan vents with a plastic guard covering the vent.

When I removed the guard to replace the fan, (I thought it was broken as there was no noise coming from it) I realised that there was no fan! There's also no wiring. It looks like a rubbery vent going straight up.

What's the purpose of this? It doesn't seem to be doing anything as there is mould building up in the bathroom.

Any help would be much appreciated.

I've attached a picture with the guard off for reference:

Also, apologies if this has been posted before. This setup may have a name but I don't know what it is so I'm not having much luck with...

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Bath Vent Fan

Plan the installation so the vent duct is as short as possible and makes as few turns as possible. In addition to a vent fan, a bathroom unit may have a light, night-light, or heater. A heater uses more power than a light and fan, so it may need to be on its own circuit.

A fan or a unit with a light and fan that come on at the same time requires only two-cable wiring. Wiring becomes more complex with separate function controls and additional functions. To replace an existing fan, check the wiring; you may need to replace two-wire cable with three-wire cable or even two cables.


About 7 hours to install ducting, a fan, and a switch (not including cutting a pathway for the cable and patching walls)

Voltage tester, pry bar, drill, drywall saw, jigsaw, hammer, ladder, fish tape, screwdriver, strippers, long-nose pliers, lineman's pliers

Cutting through siding or roofing; stripping,...

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by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard

Bathroom ventilation systems are designed to exhaust odors and moist air to the home's exterior. Typical systems consist of a ceiling fan unit connected to a duct that terminates at the roof.

Fan Function

The fan may be controlled in one of several ways:

Most are controlled by a conventional wall switch. A timer switch may be mounted on the wall. A wall-mounted humidistat can be pre-set to turn the fan on and off based on different levels of relative humidity.

Newer fans may be very quiet but work just fine. Older fans may be very noisy or very quiet. If an older fan is quiet, it may not be working well. Inspectors can test for adequate fan airflow with a chemical smoke pencil or a powder puff bottle, but such tests exceed InterNACHI's Standards of Practice.

Bathroom ventilation fans should be inspected for dust buildup that can impede air flow. Particles of moisture-laden animal dander and lint...

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BATHROOM VENTILATION - CONTENTS: How to install, specify or improve bathroom venting, reduce indoor condensation, avoid bathroom mold. Bathroom vent fans, required bath vent fan capacity, fan noise and sones. Bathroom vent fan ducts, where to route vent air, duct condensation, ceiling leaks; Photographs of bad or ineffective bath fan installations POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about bathroom vent fan and fan ducting installation procedures, codes, standards REFERENCES

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Bath vent fan installation, troubleshooting, repair:

This article series describes how to install bathroom ventilation systems, fans, ducts, terminations. We include bathroom venting code citations and the text also explains why bathroom vent fans are needed and describes good bath vent fan choices, necessary fan capacity, and good bath vent fan and vent-duct...

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I've spent a lot of time in attics looking at problems with insulation, air sealing, HVAC systems, and ductwork. I've also seen why so many bathroom ventilation fans don't move much air. A typical bath fan is rated to move 50 cubic feet per minute of air when it's operating, but most actually move about half of their rated air flow. Here are 5 reasons why this happens.

1. No duct, fan blowing into insulation

As you can see in the photo above, there's no duct attached to this fan. Usually, no duct means better air flow. The air doesn't go where you'd like it to, but it flows easily. Except when it doesn't, of course, as in in this case. Here, instead of blowing into an open duct or open space, the air hits compressed fiberglass insulation. Bam! Not much comes through. You can see from the dark spot on the fiberglass that some air does escape, but it won't be much here.

2. Duct terminates at obstruction

The fan shown below does have a...

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by Nick Gromicko and Ben Gromicko

According to the InterNACHI Standards of Practice, the inspector shall inspect the mechanical exhaust systems in the bathrooms. Regardless of what kind of ventilation system may be installed for the rest of the house, exhaust fans are recommended in the bathrooms to remove excess moisture, cleaning chemical fumes, etc. The fan should be ducted to exhaust outside of the home.

Exhaust air from bathrooms, toilet rooms, water closet compartments, and other similar rooms shall not be:

exhausted into an attic, soffit, ridge vent, crawlspace, or other areas inside the building; or recirculated within a residence or to another dwelling unit. Operable bathroom windows are a convenient feature, but they should not be relied on for consistently adequate bathroom ventilation. (Image of the home inspector courtesy of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) In meeting modern exhaust air flow standards, bathroom fans can be run...
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Water stains on the ceiling around your bath fan may indicate a leak coming from the vent cap on your roof, but condensation is the more likely culprit. If bath fan ducting isn’t properly insulated, the moist air from your house will condense inside the duct.

The first step is to head to the attic. You may find that the insulation simply needs to be refastened. If you see that your duct isn’t insulated at all, pick up duct insulation at the home center. Use zip ties or aluminum tape to fasten the insulation.

If your ducts are properly insulated, another potential cause of condensation is lack of use. Bath fans have a damper designed to keep the outside air from entering in through the fan, but that valve doesn’t stop warm air from escaping. Whether you use your bath fan or not, some warm air will still escape into the ducting. On very cold days, that warm air is likely to condense inside the ducting, especially if the fan is never run to dry it out....

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