Q: Who is the best person to hire to install a bathroom exhaust fan: an electrician, bathroom specialist or general contractor?
Sally W. of South Fallsburg, N.Y.
A: While this job’s a little small for your average general contractor, it’s right in the wheelhouse of most handymen and electricians.
Keep in mind that some states require a licensed electrician to handle jobs like these, so you'll want to confirm that with your service provider. If you hire an electrician, you may also need to hire someone – a handyman, perhaps – to patch drywall or do other finishing work.
Installing a bathroom exhaust fan usually takes three to four hours, and costs between $165 and $350. It can take longer and cost more if it’s a first-floor installation on a multi-level home, or if you choose an upscale silent fan, which can run $200 by itself.
How to vent and use an exhaust fan
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The International Residential Code says exhaust air must be redirected outdoors. Because of the risk of mold or mildew, it can’t just feed into an attic, soffit, ridge vent or crawl space. Confirm that your service provider will vent in accordance with your state or local codes.
Once your fan’s installed, here’s a tip for preventing peeling paint, bubbled drywall, mildew or mold in your bathroom: Run the fan an extra 10 or 15 minutes after a bath or shower to remove excess moisture. If turning it off in time is a challenge, use a timer switch. The fan will also last longer if you regularly remove lint and dust.
Exhaust fan money-saving tips
Because there are only two critical moving parts in a bathroom exhaust fan — the motor and baffle — just replacing one or both could return it to optimal performance and save you money.
Also, many homeowners think they need a whole new unit because their vent cover is rusted or yellowed. Give a metal cover new life with just a little hand-sanding, primer and paint. You can easily replace plastic covers if you have the manufacturer and model number, which are located inside the fan housing, next to the motor.
Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question firstname.lastname@example.org.
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