By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Step 1 : Remove the old unit and disconnect it
Shut off power to the light/vent in the bathroom and remove its grille. Disconnect the existing wiring and loosen the locknut securing the fitting that holds the electrical line in place. If the fixture is attached directly to the joists, remove the nails or screws, then carefully pull the unit down through the ceiling opening. Disconnect the duct from the fan, but leave the duct in place.
If you can't see the fasteners that hold the unit in position, go into the attic. It may be suspended from mounting brackets nailed to the joists. Remove the nails and be careful the fixture doesn't fall when you take out the last fastener. Disconnect the wiring and any ductwork, and lift or lower the fixture away from the opening.
Step 2 : Make the ceiling cutout
The housing for a new fixture is likely to be larger than the old one. If a paper template is supplied with the new unit, use it to mark your cut lines on the ceiling. If not, trace around the fan housing itself. Use a drywall saw to cut the opening within the lines.
Disassemble the motor from the fan housing, which lightens the weight you have to hold over your head while you work.
Be careful to orient the unit so that its longer dimension is parallel to the joists, or the unit may not fit between the ceiling framing.
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