Bathroom fan & Venting - Do it myself??

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Old 01-03-12, 01:01 PM
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Bathroom fan & Venting - Do it myself??

Hi all.

My husband and I just purchased our first home over the summer and found that a ceiling above a closet is mushy--which led us to go up into the attic.

Found that neither of the bathroom fans are vented properly. One is has plastic flex duct just going to the ceiling of the attic (not outside), the other doesn't seem to have any duct--in fact I can't even locate it! It may be installed between the ceiling and the solid floor over that part of the attic (just lovely!!).

My question is this: Do you think my husband and I could vent these fans ourselves. We have no home repair experience other than recaulking tubs etc. lol.

I was going to call a contractor today, but honestly after seeing the work that other contractors have done in this house, I almost feel safer doing it myself! The idea also scares me, though, since we know nothing.

Cutting a hole in the roof or to the outside seems the scariest...so was thinking of possibly even doing all of the duct work then having a contractor just to the final step...or do you think we could even do this final step with the proper equipment to cut the hole etc. (and no, I don't want to vent through soffit after reading up on things!)..

Any thoughts on whether this may be doable for us "newbies" will be much appreciated!

Thanks!

Cassie
 
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Old 01-03-12, 01:31 PM
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It's an easy job, the main thing is to get the flashing right so there are no leaks. You can vent it out the roof or the siding.
 
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Old 01-03-12, 03:45 PM
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Depends on your skills. It is not difficult but requires some knowledge of contruction. You will need to attach ductwork to the fan outlets, usually 4", and don't use flex(corrugated) duct, it creates turbulance inside the duct. And insulatimg the duct work is recommended.

Going thru a side wall is easier, but not for long duct runs, thru the roof requires some knowledge of roofing principles. Mostly, water runs downhill, except in a hurricane. A 4 3/8" hole saw really simplifies things, One hole and the job is half done. Using the above principle, a vent goes under the higher point and over the lower point. Caulk everything higher and on the sides, and some of the lower, with a gap to let any water out.
 
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Old 01-03-12, 04:54 PM
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Hi Cassie,
Being a new home owners you might as well get started on DIY since it is a real money saver and very rewarding. As a testimonial to this forum, I started here to fill in where I needed more knowledge. What I found is a gold mine of knowledge on just about anything you want to ask. The pros here will stay with you all they way.

As for finding a good contractor, there are plenty out there, but, just like a mechanic for your car or doctor or dentist, it can take some searching to find them.

Bud
 
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Old 01-04-12, 06:05 AM
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There is nothing about adding a bath vent that is beyond the skills of most homeowners. However, there are things to consider before deciding if you want to DIY it.

How accessible is your roof? Will you need a bigger ladder? Is it a height problem? Will the pitch give you problems?
What kind of roof do you have? Shingle, metal, slate, rolled, etc?

I suggest browsing the DIY book section at a big box store for a better idea of what's involved.

Most big box stores sell the vent kit. Many include flexible ducting. I don't see a problem using flex duct, just plan the install for minimum length and bends.
 
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Old 01-04-12, 07:47 PM
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Thanks everyone --- looks like we'll be trying to tackle it ourselves and see what happens. I'm sure I'll be back with questions! Thanks for the tips so far. I had been watching lots of online videos/reading posts so I knew what I was talking about when a contractor came and could "supervise" somewhat to make sure I got what I wanted, but then it seemed like it was something I probably couldn't botch up TOO badly. Wanted to check here to make sure this was the case. Once I step into Lowes to get supplies I'm sure I'll be completely overwhelmed, though!

Thanks
 
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Old 01-05-12, 05:50 AM
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Yeah, Cassie, we're here, so go for it. One thing not mentioned, is you are in the middle of the state, near Starkeville, and probably when the house was built code didn't call for exterior venting, since you don't see as much snow and ice as the others on the forum experience. Venting to the top of the truss structure was allowed at one time. That being said, you probably have a gable roof. If so, that's even easier as you can vent through the gable and not have to venture on that roof, and it will preclude punching a hole in a perfectly good roof. Consider what the other guys have said and look into venting sideways through the gable, and let us know if you need help getting supplies.
 
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Old 01-05-12, 07:02 PM
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Chandler,

Yes, we're in the warm south. I'm from the north and not used to this nearly 70 degree stuff in January!

Well, the house is older, but the fans are pretty new as the bathrooms were re-done---so the contractor had no excuse as far as code goes. Also, the one fan is vented no where--as in I can't even FIND the fan! It is either buried under a top new layer of blown in insulation that is on top of a solid floor that is in a section of the attic, or it is actually in between the attic floor and the ceiling. Fun, eh?! I found all of this out when researching a moisture issue---we have a closet ceiling that is mushy, so up to the attic we went.

Still don't have the moisture issue pinned down, but there is a chance it could be from the buried fan/wet insulation. We will know more soon...

The one fan could easily go out a gable (the gable is just the "v" side of the attic, right?)--I read some things about that though saying that the warm air/moisture can rise and cause issues if the roof overhangs?? The 2nd fan would have a long run to get out of a gable, so I'm not sure. Food for thought, though!

Thanks again for the help. I think we're going to try to start tackling it this weekend, so I'll probably be needing you guys! Thank you.
Cassie
 
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Old 01-14-12, 07:24 PM
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Bathroom Fan Venting Duct Work questions...

Hi all,

I had posted here a couple of weeks ago asking if doing duct work for bathroom fans may be possible for my husband and I even
though we are "newbies" when it comes to home repairs.Thanks to the encouragement, we went ahead and have started to try it ourselves, but have run into a few questions/issues now:

I have posted pictures on my photobucket account:

House Jan 2011 Fans Attic pictures by cwhit224 - Photobucket

Don't mind the attic ceiling pictures and the bathroom vent pipe pictures (not the fan vent)---took some other pictures not relavent to this for my family to see. The fan in question is the one with the duct work...not sure that those pics will help at all with my questions.

Issue 1:

We read in many of the fan install instructions online to run 2-3 feet of "straight" duct work before putting in any turns...we got this part down, but now we are having issues going up. Intall instructions also say to, if possible, not just have a quick 90 degree turn, but to make it a bit more gradual.

Went to Lowes and there are no "solid" elbows....only the kind that you can twist around to get it to the angle you want. They STATE 90 degree elbow right on them, but I sure as heck can't get it to really go to 90 degrees!

If you put two together, you can get it to go nearly 90 degrees, and this also allows for the "more gradual" turn upwards that the install instructions found online state.

When all is said and done, between the "give" due to the joint where the elbows are held together and then the other connector we had to put in in order to attach the solid duct work to the elbows to go up to the ceiling, you can get it to be 90 degrees easily..However one or more of the elbow ends is "cocked" just a bit inside of the other elbow it is connected to. Meaning there will be a bump/little pocket for air to try to get up into. We'll have the joints taped, so it won't escape, but didn't know if that "bump" was an issue. I'm sorry, as I don't know if this is making any sense in writing!

2) Also, when you attach the 2 so-called 90 degree elbows, in order to get them to the appropriate angle they are almost snake-like. ...as in if you were to stand in front of the duct work and look at it straight on, when you get to these elbows they would "bend" a bit left to right, which is necessary to get the angles we needed. We did not bend the elbow, it is just because they are the twisty kind...they do it themselves. Hope this makes sense. Don't know if this is an issue or not--definitely doesn't look pretty.

We haven't "solidified" any of the duct work...at this point we were just trying to piece together to see---so when you look at the pics and see that things aren't angled correctly etc., that is why.

We aren't sure if we need to and find some other kind of elbows (Lowes didn't have any other kind that would work) or if what we're trying to do will be functional and correct.

Any advice would be wonderful!

Thank you!!

Cassie
 
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Old 01-14-12, 07:38 PM
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Bathroom fan - Prev. owner set up incorrectly?

Hi all.

Another bathroom fan question.

We couldn't even FIND the fan for our master bath. I knew the fan was in between the rafters and solid attic flooring and was hoping it was somehow vented out the soffit. Well, my husband and I cut the attic floor today to locate the fan and the previous owners vented to nowhere. It has been blowing into insulation in between the ceiling and attic flooring for years. Lovely. Wonder if this is the cause of all the mold in that part of the attic?!

Anyway, we were so happy to have finally located it, but now we have another issue. The part that sticks out of the fan where you would attach the duct work to is very low. There is a board running below the rafters and the edge of it is actually HIGHER than the bottom of the fan opening where you attach the duct work to.

We were thinking of using a wood chisel and chipping away at this piece of wood enough to where we can get the duct work attached, but I have 2 concerns:

1) We don't know anything about construction---what IS this piece of wood that is in the way---are we going to ruin anything structurally by chipping away at it and compromising its strength?

2) The fan opening is only 3" and we were wanting to put an adapter on it to make it a 4" opening, as we've been reading that this is better for air flow. I haven't looked into adapters, so not sure exactly what it would all look like in the end, but I'd assume the duct work would have to drop an *additional* half inch or less from where the bottom of the fan opening is right now. This would mean compromising that piece of wood even more. May have to even cut all the way through it!

Advice??

I have some pics at: House Jan 2011 Fans Attic pictures by cwhit224 - Photobucket

There are pictures of a different attic fan project there as well, and of the mold issue--you want to look at the one that just has the fan set down in the floor. I believe they are the last pictures in the album. You can see the pice of wood in question pretty well in one of them.

Thank you for any help!

Cassie
 
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Old 01-15-12, 03:51 PM
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This is a DIY forum, but that generally requires some basic knowledge of what you are attempting to DIY. From the pics, I am not sure what is your issue. I see a piece of pipe that I assume is the fan exhaust, if yes, it needs to go outside the house sturcture. Exhausting warm moist air into the the attic will cause moisture and mold problems. Either thru the roof or out a side wall is where that pipe must go. Extend the pipe to the nearest place to get the air outside.

Some fans have a 3" exhaust, some have a 4". If yours is 3". extend the pipe using 3" or up it to 4".

In a properly insulated attic space, you should not be able to find the bathroom fan, except by following the pipe.
 
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Old 01-15-12, 04:54 PM
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If you put a 3" ell on it so you turn right away, then you won't have to cut out much wood , if any.
Then you can put your increaser on it to 4" and run your 4" pipe. You will still get your 40 CFM of air out of it. Paul
 
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Old 01-15-12, 09:51 PM
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Thanks, Paul.

We'll have to cut some wood no matter what, was the piece of wood that sits in front of the fan is actually a bit taller than the pipe. Thanks for the idea for adding the 4" duct work later on so we don't have to cut so much of the wood. Much appreciated!

Just Bill - We are extremely novice, but we do know it needs exhausted outside---which is why we cut into the floor in the attic to locate the fan so we could vent it outside. Previous owners had it set up to where it was literally venting into insulation in between the bathroom ceiling and attic flooring. Issue is that there is a piece of wood---a "necessary looking" piece of wood---that is in front of the exhaust pipe of the fan. It actually sits a bit above the bottom of the exhaust pipe, meaning it is going to be difficult attaching duct work to the the exhaust pipe. We didn't know exactly what the pice of wood is and if it it is something structural that we shouldn't be cutting into at all. Looks like it is a very long board attached to the bottom of the attic rafters...there are others like it.
 
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Old 01-16-12, 04:22 AM
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Hi Cassie, don't worry, we all started as novices. I looked at the picture but can't really see the board in question. If you can back up a little with the camera and clear out some of the insulation maybe we can get a better view. It may just be me though.

As for having the fan buried under a floor I'm rather certain that isn't good. Electrical boxes must be accessible so I would assume a fun would also. At a minimum a removable cover should be installed to cover your work, but one of the electrical pros will comment on code requirements.

There are also larger fans that you should consider, now or in the future, as yours sounds like a smaller one. Venting that moisture to the outside is half of the problem, getting it out of the bathroom is the other half. Since you have been there a while and no mold in the bathroom, moving the exhaust to the outside will be an improvement all by itself.

You mentioned the soffits, although that would be better than in between the rafters, often the vented moisture out the soffits is simply pushed right back into the attic with the inflow of fresh air. Through the roof or gable end of the house is better and be sure to cover those ducts with some insulation to minimize the risk of condensation.

My son just had a house built about 5 years ago and what do I just learn, the builder vented the half bath into the ceiling between the first and second floor, Arghh! And he was supposedly a great builder.

Bud
 
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Old 01-16-12, 05:29 AM
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Cassie: it sure would help if you kept your single thought threads together. This is the third thread you have started on this subject. Moderators may combine them so we can straight line the solutions.
 
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Old 01-16-12, 04:15 PM
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Just do the best you can with the angles & don't worry about having it to the optimal standards. It might put a little more strain on the fan but I really wouldn't worry about it.
 
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Old 01-16-12, 05:18 PM
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Last time I checked, two 45s equal a 90, so I don't think your elbows are an issue. However, it looks like the vertical vent pipe you'll be using is an old (original construction) cast iron plumbing vent. You aren't tapping into that for the attic fan ventilation, are you? Not a good idea, if you are. Potential for messing up the proper draining of any sinks, toilets, tubs, etc. connected to it. In addition to being a definite building code violation.
 
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Old 01-22-12, 06:40 PM
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Thanks for the replies, everyone. Someone asked if we were tapping into the cast iron pipe. Answer is no. I had taken a set of pictures and posted them on my photobucket account, and some were not of the bathroom fan project--that being one of them.

Yes, the one fan is quite small. It is rated correctly for the size that the bathroom is (I checked), but definitely a small fan. For now we are leaving it, though, due to cost...may change in the future.

My husband and I were up on the roof dealing with a leak around a vent pipe and decided that neither of us should be up on the roof with a saw of any kind due to our comfort levels. We'd probably end up in the hospital. We're going to hire someone to cut the hole/put the roof cap on and we'll deal with the ducting ourselves to at least save some money.

Thanks again!

Cassie
 
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Old 01-22-12, 11:45 PM
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Wise move, Cassie. Ouch hurts! I don't know the pitch of your roof, but anything steeper than a 4-in-12 can easily become treacherous, especially for anyone not comfortable working at heights.

Quick suggestion--do some careful shopping before you pay anyone to do the roof work. I've seen more than a few butcher-jobs from so-called "handymen" when it comes to making roof penetrations. Research the potential candidates as best you can, making sure thay are State-licensed, insured and bonded. And before you sign the contract, make it clear to the selected contractor that your or hubby will be up there with them during the work, with your camera, to monitor and record what they will be doing. "Just for future reference, in case you want to do something similar in the future yourselves (wink, wink)."
 
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Old 01-23-12, 03:06 AM
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There's no way for you to run this out the gable end?? I hate cutting into a perfectly good non leaking roof to install something that may leak later. Just curious.
 
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Old 01-25-12, 08:20 AM
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I don't know if you are up to replacing the unit for something newer/quieter right now, but this looks like it might be a really good option for you. Askthebuilder.com/exhaust fans It's a fan that is in the attic, instead of your bathroom and you might have more flexibility with the ducting and stuff this way. He doesn't specify a brand, but you can just do a search for "remote bathroom exhaust fans with light" and find a lot of them to choose from. Looks like they run about $230 with the light, and are probably cheaper without it.

I hope that gives you some ideas.
 
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Old 01-26-12, 06:01 PM
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Chandler,

Can't run out the gable end with one fan--we could, but it is a LONG ways away and would also have a 90 degree turn as well, which I'm thinking wouldn't be good.

The 2nd small fan we could potentially do it with, but if we go the 2-3 feet of "straight" duct out from the fan before any turns, we end up right underneath a gable "vent" (not sure what the right name is for it....the slatted little windows in the gable ends for air circulation). Wasn't sure about venting out of the gable vent or below the gable vent since some of the air may come right back into the attic. Any thoughts? Also remember reading a few negative things about going out the gable end, although I honestly can't remember what now. We're dealing with a roof leak around a plumbing vent pipe right now. Fun.

It seems like if one installs the roof caps (probably wrong name here!) correctly for the bathroom vents, it should NOT leak. It isn't like the set up that we have for the plumbing vent pipe.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

Cassie
 
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Old 01-26-12, 06:12 PM
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Bridgeman - Yes, I don't think uncomfortable humans on a roof with a sawzall is a good idea.

I asked my HVAC guy to do it. I'm a property manager and he's done a lot of work at the apartments I work at and also has worked on my heat pump at home---so while I've never seen him do roof work, I know and trust him otherwise. He's I'm sure had to install duct work for homes he's had to cut through roofs etc., so I feel he's capable of it and just as good as any general "repair" person I'm going to find. Fingers crossed that it goes well. He's probably going to do it next week depending on the weather.

Thanks for the advice--believe me, I'd love to be up there with a camera and micromanage things. lol. And if it were someone I didn't know at all, I may have tried that--I may have to pull that trick out in the future.
 
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