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Light Up, Air Out the Bathroom

Make your bath more attractive with proper ventilation and lighting.

Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®

About this Project

The bathroom is often a small space. Installing vent fans and lighting can help add value to the room and attract potential home buyers. You might have made do with your small bathroom space, but you may need to address a few issues when preparing your home for sale. Adding a fan and additional lighting can help make this area more attractive and useful.


Most housing codes state that you must have ventilation if your bathroom does not have a window. This works to prevent the buildup of moisture and odor. Adding a fan can also reduce your air-conditioning costs. While some fans and lighting are separate, check into your area’s codes to determine if you need a system where the fan and light turn on together. Follow these steps and find out how easy it is to light up and air out your bathroom with a light and vent fan.

Light Up, Air Out the Bathroom 
Install the fan 


1. Install the fan unit

NOTE: Shut off the power. Cut a ceiling opening between joists. From the attic, nail or screw the unit's mounting brackets securely to the framing. Make sure the fan assembly is level and flush with the surface of the ceiling below before fastening.

Light Up, Air Out the Bathroom1
Run the ductwork 

2. Run the ductwork

In some climates, and if your attic has adequate cross-ventilation, you may be able to get by without venting to the outside--check local codes. Otherwise, run flexible ducting to a soffit or to a roof-mounted outlet. To increase the efficiency of your fan, run the ducts as straight as possible.

Light Up, Air Out the Bathroom2
Wire the switches 

3. Wire the switches

For a combination fan and light, fish two-wire cable to the switches, then run three wires from the switches to the unit. For a fan-only installation, run two-wire cable to the unit (for instructions, see sections on running cable, Related Projects) If the fan has a heater, you'll probably need to run a 15- or 20-amp circuit (see sections on planning and circuits, Related Projects for information about planning and adding circuits).

Light Up, Air Out the Bathroom4
wire vent fan 

4. Wire the vent fan unit

Inside the unit, connect the wires according to the manufacturer's directions. Typical connections are shown here. Install the working parts in the housing, and plug them into the appropriate receptacles. Turn on the power, and test the fan and light. Finally, fit the grille. Once a year, remove the grille and clean the fan blades and other parts inside the fan.

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