How to Install a Bathroom Light/Vent

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Utility light
  • Flashlight
  • Hammer
  • Drill/driver
  • Drywall saw
  • Neon circuit tester
  • Wire strippers
  • Screwdriver
  • Razor knife
  • Stepladder
Materials Required
  • Automatic sensing
    bathroom light/vent fan
  • Duct tape

Before You Begin

The installation steps are below but if you don't want to get involved doing this job yourself, click Home Advisor, a free referral service that connects homeowners with local contractors.

  • 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.

    Remove the old unit and disconnect it

    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.

    Cut out ceiling with template

    Disassemble the motor from the fan housing, which lightens the weight you have to hold over your head while you work.

    Disassemble the motor

    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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