Bathroom Fan Cover Replacement

Is your bathroom fan cover or grill old and yellowed with age? They can easily be replaced. If you have to replace your fan motor, you will also need to know how to replace the fan cover. Whether you call it a “fan cover” or a “fan grill”, we are talking about the same thing here.

All you really should need is the following few items to replace your bathroom fan cover:

    • New cover (should come with new spring clips also).
    • A vacuum cleaner to clean out the fan unit before replacing the cover.
    • You might need a small screwdriver or pry bar to start or loosen the old fan cover initially, but your hands should do the job in most cases.

Replacing the Old Cover

Over the years, dust and grime will cake on the cover and it is usually best just to replace it. First,take off the fan cover. Here is how

1. Pull the fan cover straight down with both of your hands. It will be attached with springs.

2. Pinch the springs to remove them from the ceiling. There will be two springs, one on each side of the fan cover. When you pinch them, pull down and they will come loose from their mountings inside the ceiling. Put the springs aside so you can find them when it comes time to replace them

3. Vacuum out the hole. It will be filled with dust and dirt, so a vacuum cleaner is best to avoid getting a lot of dust and dirt in the air. You can use a dry cloth to remove any loose dirt also.

4. Your new cover should have come with new springs, so position the new cover in place and snap the springs in position and you are done.

That’s all there is to replacing the cover. Yes, that was easy. But, while you got it apart, you may need to replace the fan motor as well, so we will tell you how to do that as well, just in case. When you have the cover off, inspect the wiring to be sure it is not dry rotted, melted or burnt anywhere, if it is, it should be replaced as well.

After you vacuum and clean out any dirt and dust from the fan unit, you can follow the following steps to replace the fan unit if necessary.

Bathroom Fan Ratings

To be able to purchase a new bathroom fan, you need to understand the two types of bathroom fan ratings. They are rated in both sones and CFM.

Sones: Sones are a measurement of sound levels that a fan emits. So, the lower the sones number of a fan, the quieter that fan will be. Sone ratings are typically from zero to five. 2.5 or lower is considered to be quite.

CFM: Fans are also rated by airflow. CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute and each fan will have a CFM rating. To figure out what CFM rating you need for your bathroom fan; multiply your bathroom’s length by the width to get the room’s square footage. Then if your bathroom has an 6 ft. ceiling, multiply your bathroom’s square footage by 1.1 to get the CFM. Likewise, if your ceiling is from nine to twelve feet high, multiply the square footage by 1.25. If you have a cathedral ceiling, multiply by 1.5.

What you will Need

In order to replace the bathroom fan, you will need:

    1. The new fan
    2. Phillips and regular screwdrivers
    3. Drill and bits
    4. Pliers
    5. Keyhole saw/reciprocating saw
    6. Wallboard repair supplies
    7. Dust mask
    8. Duct tape/ electrical tape/ masking tape
    9. Wire nuts
    10. Circuit tester
    11. Wire strippers
    12. Utility knife
    13. Pencil/ marker
    14. Safety goggles

Replacing the Fan Motor

First, you will follow the above instructions for removing the fan’s cover. Then follow these easy instructions on how to replace the fan in case it is bad:

1. Find out what fan rating you want and purchase the new fan. Fans are rated in sones and CFM (see above). Figure out your fan ratings and write it down to take to the store with you.

2. Remove the new fan from the box and prepare your work area with everything you need from above.

3. Turn off the power to the fan at the main breaker box.

4. User your circuit tester to make sure the power is off.

5. Remove the motor and mounding screws with your screwdriver and/or drill as needed.

6. Slide the fan box housing to one side and disconnect the vent duct.

7. Lower the housing through the hole in the ceiling.

8. Label what each wire goes to and then disconnect them.

9. Newer fans are likely to be smaller than old ones, so now is the time to make any needed adjustments to the hole size. This is why wallboard repair supplies are listed above. If the new fan is larger than the old one, you will need to use your hole saw to cut the hole bigger.

10. Once you have the hole the proper size for the new fan’s housing, slide the housing up through the hole and place the wires through the hole provided in the housing.

11. Slide the housing to the side and connect the duct to it with the duct tape.

12. Now position the housing so that its bottom is flush with the ceiling and drive screws through the housing and into the ceiling studs.

13. Next, connect the wiring to the motor and light if you have one. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your individual unit.

14. Position the motor inside the housing and secure it with the included screws. Before you go much further, turn on the power to be sure the fan works.

15. Once the fan is working, install any accessories that may have came with it such as lights or safety cut offs according to their instructions and replace the cover and you are done.


The instructions for each individual fan may vary, so be sure to follow any manufacturer’s instructions as well. In some homes you can access the fan from the attic easier than trying to do it from below. If you can do it from the attic, take a piece of plywood up with you so you don’t fall through the ceiling.

Other than that, it is pretty basic. Please do use caution when dealing with electricity. Don’t get shocked; make sure you are not working with live wires. That is why it is important to use a circuit tester to be sure you are not working with hot wires, especially in a bathroom where there can be surfaces with water on them.