Advice from your Local Dallas, Texas “Handyman” About Bathroom Exhaust Fans

Services for Real Estate Pros with HandyPro Handyman Services

Replacing a bathroom exhaust fan isn't nearly as difficult as repairing mildew stained walls and ceilings.  The manufactures provide detailed instructions for the handyman, however, here are some hints to help keep your existing fan working or to choose a new one that works for you.


Moisture in a bathroom is your worst enemy; moist, hot air must be vented to prevent mold and mildew build up, peeling paint and warped doors.  One thing to consider is using a timer so you don't have to remember to turn off the fan when it finishes its job.  Newer models of exhaust fans are quiet, so it would be easy to forget to turn it off. 


Your handyman will recommend having a fan that is capable of achieving at least 8 air changes per hour, with the exhaust of air continuing for 20 minutes after showering.  For maximum efficiency, choose the correct size fan.  First, determine the volume of your bathroom; volume = length x width x height.  Second, find the CFM (cubic feet per minute).  CFM = volume/7.5.  The CFM is the minimum airflow required to achieve 8 air exchanges per hour.  Example: volume = 10 x 6 x 8 = 480.  CFM = 480/7.5 = 64.  Therefore, you would choose a fan with a CFM of greater than 64.


Next, consider how quiet you want the fan to be and remember the price goes up as the noise level goes down.  Bathroom fans are measured by SONES.  4.0 sones are equal to the sound of normal television, which is very loud for a fan.  3.0 Sones make the sound of rustling leaves.  A very quiet fan, at 1.0 Sones or less is ideal.


If you spend the extra money to have a very quiet fan, be sure to install it properly; a handyman will recommend using screws instead of nails.  Nails eventually vibrate loose and make noise.  Use 4-inch venting; the bigger the venting, the quieter it will be.  Make bends and turns gradual; avoid 90-degree bends if possible to reduce air noise.


Other considerations are features and looks.  Maybe you want a fan with a light in it or one with a heating element.  They come in different colors and styles.  Your only limit is your budget and your taste.  Start with CFM and Sones, and then choose one that looks good in your bathroom while protecting your décor from moisture and mildew.


If your existing fan is noisy, consider repair before replacement when possible.  Most fans are easy to take apart just by removing a few screws or fasteners.  Many plug into a standard electrical outlet built into the fan box so you don't need electrical skills.  Obtaining replacement parts is often the biggest challenge for the handyman.


Replacing the motor assembly has the advantage of leaving the old fan housing installed, so there is no need to worry about electrical connections, venting and ceiling repairs.  Replacement is only necessary if you absolutely hate your existing fan or have been unsuccessful in your search for replacement parts.


Disassembly of the existing fan is different, depending on the manufacturer.  Some have recessed screws within the vent grills of the cover.  Using a flashlight, locate the screws and loosen them so that the cover turns freely without scraping on the ceiling.  Turn it slightly and it should release from the screws.  Another cover type, common with lower to mid-priced models, is held in place by a nut or screw located behind the bulb.  Take down the bulb cover and remove the bulb to expose the screw, to remove the light assembly and expose the fan motor.  Others are held up by metal springs which have long protrusions that fit into slots in the body of the fan.  Pull down on the cover to see the springs, squeeze together the protrusions to release the springs for clear access to the motor.


Shame on the handyman who has painted the ceiling without first removing the fan cover!  It may be necessary to use a sharp utility knife to score the dried paint in order to remove the cover without damaging the drywall and creating extra work in having to patch and paint the area.


Once the inside is exposed, there should be a specification label with information printed on it.  Write this down and have it handy when you start calling around or shopping for replacement parts.  Or, to reduce the risk of error, remove the motor and frame and take the entire assembly to the store for the clerk to refer to when ordering your parts.


Most fan motors last for years; by the time they fail, the design is outdated or the cover looks bad.  If this is the case, you may want to replace the entire unit.  The first thing to consider is the CFM rating, to be sure you are moving enough air to be effective, and then consider the noise level.  A slow turning fan is quieter, but if you don't get the air movement, it will not be effective.


The quietest and most powerful exhaust fans are the inline fans, mounted in the attic and connected to a ceiling or wall register with flexible ducting.  They don't vibrate and make noise because they're mounted to the roof rafters.  These are not for every home as some are actually powerful enough to cause your ears to pop!  Remember, all air being pumped out of your home needs to be replaced with outside air.  Too powerful of a fan for your needs will increase your heat and AC bills.


Following these guidelines will result in sure success for the handyman installing or repairing a bathroom ceiling fan.  Considering your budget, how quiet you want your fan to be, and the required air-flow for the size of your bathroom, choose a ceiling fan that works best for you.  Follow manufacturer's instructions and enjoy clean air in your bathroom for years to come.


This article was written by Aaron Abbott of HandyPro Handyman Services.  HandyPro specializes in home repairs and seasonal home maintenance projects.  They can handle small repairs or do large kitchen and bathroom remodeling jobs.   Their pre-screened contractors are licensed and bonded, experienced and customer friendly.  Always striving for 100% customer satisfaction, they do quality work and clean up when the job is complete. services Dallas Texas, Carrollton, Richardson, Garland, Rowlett, Mesquite, Dallas, Irving, Grand Prairie, Duncanville, Desoto, Lancaster, Seagoville and neighboring cities and communities.


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