Who Should I Call to Install a Bathroom Vent?

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett
Updated February 4, 2022
suburban house with basketball hoop in driveway
Photo: Sharon / Adobe Stock

An HVAC professional is the best option to install a bathroom vent

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Bathroom fans quietly hum along—pumping out the moisture from those extra-long showers, keeping mold and mildew at bay—but what happens when you don’t have a bathroom vent, or it goes somewhere it shouldn’t? A missing or misdirected exhaust can empty damp air into an attic and create moisture-related issues. Depending on the project’s scope, you’ll need an HVAC professional or a general contractor to install a bathroom vent or redirect airflow from an attic to the outdoors. 

Benefits of Hiring a Pro to Install Your Bathroom Vent

Unless you are skilled in ductwork, drywall repair, and electrical work, you’ll want to hire a local pro to install an exhaust fan. The benefits of hiring a professional to install your bathroom vent include securing the integrity of ventilation, electrical connections, and roofing. A pro can also address local building codes or homeowner association guidelines and restrictions.

Can I DIY a Bathroom Vent Installation?

If you are simply replacing an exhaust fan of the same style and size, you could most likely do it yourself. Straightforward bathroom fan replacements that don’t require any re-wiring, new ductwork, or dealing with rooftop vents. However, if you’re putting in a new bathroom vent, you may be in over your head. 

You’ll be dealing with wires, ductwork, and drywall. You might need an oscillating saw, and you’ll be working from a ladder, so there is a risk of injury. Plus, the electrical and roofing aspects make this a difficult task for weekend warriors. 

The cost to install a bathroom fan depends on whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. On average, the cost is between $240 and $540. A basic bathroom exhaust fan can cost as little as $15. Bathroom exhaust fans with lights, sensors, or heaters can cost as much as $420. 

Drywall repair, electrical components, and labor contribute to the overall cost of installing a bathroom vent. You may need to hire an electrician if you’re installing an exhaust fan where there was none. 

Can I Hire an HVAC Pro to Install a Bathroom Vent?

handyman installing bathroom vent
Photo: bildlove / Adobe Stock

A bathroom vent is part of your home’s ventilation system. An HVAC professional has experience with ventilation and understands how air flows throughout the house and in the attic. In new construction, a mechanical (HVAC) contractor typically installs the fan components, and an electrical contractor wires the fan. “They are used to working with ductwork, drywall, and in attics,” says Matt Matheny, Engineering Director of the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI).

Can I Hire a Roofer to Install a Bathroom Vent?

In a word: No. Kurt Fester, National Project Engineer for the National Roofing Contractors Association, says a roofer might be necessary after the fact to replace an exhaust fan that used to empty moist air into an attic. 

If your bathroom exhaust fan vents to the roof—or the repair or installation demands access to the attic, ceilings, or roof vents—then you may need a roofer. 

Can I Hire a General Contractor to Install a Bathroom Vent?

A general contractor can install a new exhaust fan in your bathroom. However, it is most common for an electrical contractor to handle this job. According to Matheny, you may need the help of an HVAC contractor with expertise for proper ventilation installation, depending on the project’s scope.

Can I Hire a Handyperson to Install a Bathroom Vent?

Handypeople are your go-to when you need small jobs tackled around the house, such as hanging blinds, installing weather stripping, or patching up holes in drywall. However, choosing a handyperson to install a bathroom vent means finding one proficient with electric, HVAC, and drywall work. Unless you have the perfect match in mind, stick with an HVAC pro.

How Do HVAC Professionals Install Bathroom Vents? 

You might need a new bathroom fan if yours is on the fritz or is older than 10 years. Some signs that you may need a replacement are easy to spot—if your bathroom stays damp for longer than usual after a shower or bath, or towels or bath mats take longer to dry, you may need a new bathroom fan. 

They Choose the Right Fan for Your Home

Sones level and CFM are two major factors to consider when choosing a bathroom exhaust fan. An HVAC professional will pick a bathroom fan based on how well it moves cubic air per minute (CFM). 

A general rule of thumb is 1 CFM for every square foot of your bathroom floor. For example, less than 50 square feet requires a minimum of 50 CFM. Also, check the sones level, which measures how loud the fan gets. 

They Pick the Perfect Spot to Install

The primary function of the bathroom vent is to remove moisture and improve indoor air quality. Although builders like to install bathroom vents over toilets, the ideal location is over or near the shower. 

If you have a two-story house, first-floor bathroom vents should connect to an exterior wall or a sidewall. Second-floor bathroom vents should be mounted on the ceiling and emptied out through the roof. According to the Home Ventilating Institute, an enclosed toilet should have its own exhaust fan. 

They Ensure Proper Ventilation

An HVAC professional evaluates ductwork to ensure air flows properly from the bathroom vent to the outdoors. An HVAC professional can determine which type of insulation needs to go around the ductwork. They will also consider how natural ventilation, such as windows and doors, will impact airflow. 

They Connect Electrical

If an HVAC professional is replacing an existing bathroom exhaust fan, they can handle connecting the new unit to existing electrical wiring. For new construction or a job with no previous bath fan, an HVAC professional might bring in a licensed electrician who can ensure a safe installation, running wiring from the vent to the fan switch on the wall. 

They Attach the Grille

Attaching the grille, or the face of the exhaust fan, is the final touch to installing a bathroom vent. An HVAC professional will check the area around the grille to ensure the cover conceals any openings in the wall. They can also finish minor drywall repairs for a clean, seamless installation. Once installed, they will test the fan for function and noise.

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