How to Maintain Bathroom Vents

Someone removing a bathroom vent from a ceiling.
What You'll Need
Dry cloth/towel
Drill/screwdriver/wrench for disengaging the fan
Toothbrush/small paintbrush
Vacuum cleaner
Metal tape
Caulking mixture
Retailed motor oil

Systematic maintenance of bathroom vents is critical for ensuring proper air circulation within the bathroom. If the vents are underperforming, the moist air tends to accumulate within the bathroom and gradually seeps into the walls and bathroom cabinetry. Moisture retention is a major reason for mold growth in domestic bathrooms. Neglected bathroom vents are also unable to expel foul odors from the bathroom.

Maintenance issues arise as bathroom vents are constantly exposed to a moisture-rich environment. If left ignored, the exhaust fans can gradually develop a layer of dust particles and grime. If the dust coating is left unattended for too long, it can damage the fan’s motor unit. Grime build-up is also the main reason for bathroom exhaust fans becoming noisy over a period of sustained usage.

The good news is that bathroom fans need minimal maintenance once every six months. It should be understood that maintaining bathroom exhaust fans is easy, requiring negligible technical knowledge. A comprehensive bathroom vent maintenance regimen consists of cleaning the bathroom venting and checking their functional efficiency. Below are details on basic cleaning and maintenance of bathroom vents.

Cleaning a Bathroom Vent

The first step to cleaning a bathroom vent is to disengage it from the ceiling. Turn off the exhaust fan and pat it with a dry cloth. Unscrew and remove the fan’s grill. Sometimes the fan’s outer plate is embedded within the surrounding wall. You will need to loosen it with a knife. Ideally, you should remove the fan along with the metal bracket that encases it. This helps you observe the fan’s assembly system, making it easier to reassemble the fan after cleaning. This also makes it easier to disconnect the wires. Pull out the fan unit and unscrew the metal screws holding the metal bracket. Unplug the wires that have been hardwired into the motor unit.

Place the blades and the motor on a dry towel. You can use an old toothbrush to scrape off the dirt. However, this only cleans the top surface. Use a vacuum cleaner with a small nozzle attached to the hose for sucking out debris. Prepare a tubful of cleaning mix consisting of water and bathroom or kitchen cleaners. Soak the disengaged air vent parts in this solution. This is the best way to get rid of tar-like debris and mildew that is found along the insides of the blades. Take out the venting components after 10 minutes. Wipe each part with a sponge and then dry the parts with a towel. Let them dry in the sun or in a dry part of the house for at least two hours to ensure all the moisture from cleaning has evaporated. Then, carefully reinstall the fan unit.

Ensuring the Stability of Air Vents in Bathroom Ceilings

Bathroom vents are installed by making small openings along the upper reaches of the ceilings. Due to constant moisture seepage, the concrete lining around the fan’s frame can loosen, causing air leakage. This disrupts the expulsion of air from the bathroom’s interior. Air leakage also allows hot air from the outside to enter the bathroom. Gaps along the fan’s installation frame can also induce vibrations within the fan, making it noisy. You need to ensure that the fan is held firmly in its place. Use metal tape or a caulking mixture to fill in any gaps or crevices around the venting unit.

Ensuring Basic Lubrication of Bathroom Vents

Oiling is needed for maintaining basic lubrication of a bathroom fan. This helps the motor to function quietly and efficiently. Carefully put some drops of motor oil along each end of the motor shaft. You can ask a hardware supply store for the appropriate motor oil according to the fan’s brand and blade size. Some motors even have dedicated oil holes for precise oiling.