How To Install A Bathroom Fan On First Floor? (14 Step Guide)

How To Install Bath Fans On The First Floor?

Installing a new bathroom fan on the first floor of a home can be a big challenge if there isn’t an existing bathroom fan and duct. I invite you to read my guide on replacing an existing bathroom fan without attic access if you already have an old bath fan.

The first main step in installing a bath fan on the first floor is to determine the placement of your bath fan on the ceiling, and to choose where it should exhaust on the outside. You will need to route a flex duct from the bathroom to the exterior wall. You can use either a reciprocating saw or hole saw to cut into the exterior wall. Afterwards you will need to secure the duct to an exterior vent hood.

Besides the ducting, the other main challenge will be getting Romex wiring from the electrical panel box to the bathroom. Once you have routed the duct and the wiring, you can secure these items to the bathroom fan housing after you have cut into the drywall.

To read the details of each step, keep scrolling…

Read Also: What Are The Best Delta Bathroom Fans?


Step 10 – Pull Wiring Through Housing

Before you screw the housing onto the ceiling joists, you will need to do the wiring.

Prior to wiring the bath fan, it is recommended to install a plastic grommet on the housing which will help protect the wiring from abrasion on the metal edges.

Once you know the grommet is installed, you can put the entire housing into the ceiling hole, and then take the Romex cable which is non-metallic sheathed cable and pull it through the grommet.

Read Also: How Much Electricity Do Bathroom Fans Use?

Bathroom Specs


Specifications for the placement of plumbing fixtures and the dimensions of pipes are intended to make the bathroom a comfortable space with plenty of capacity for incoming water and outgoing drains and vents. Before taking up a hammer or a drill, check out our specs for a well-planned layout. There may be codes and regulations you're not aware of.

FAQs About Installing a Bathroom Fan

Replacing or installing a bathroom fan takes time and diligent effort to make sure the fan looks great and functions properly. Given the many steps in the project, there may be a few questions about bathroom fans and the installation process. Keep reading to find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about bathroom fan installation.


Q. What type of light bulbs can I use in my bathroom fan?

Most bathroom fans that have integrated lights use LED bulbs instead of traditional bulbs. However, halogen bulbs are also appropriate, and they are more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs.

Q. Can I install an exhaust fan directly over a bathtub or shower?

If the exhaust fan is listed as tested and approved for installation over a tub or shower, and it’s attached to a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), then it can be installed directly over the tub or shower. Just make sure to regularly check the bathroom fan grille for signs of mold.

Q. Does it matter if there is insulation touching my exhaust fan?

It depends on the type of bathroom fan you have. Check the insulation contact (IC) rating in order to determine whether the bathroom fan can be in contact with insulation or if the insulation needs to be adjusted to allow for safe installation and operation of the fan. If you are still unsure, there may be additional information included with the product or listed on the manufacturer’s website to help determine the best course of action.

Q. What is the best way to duct an exhaust fan?

Ideally, the bathroom fan exhaust duct should run directly to the exterior of the home. Avoid running the duct to a soffit or right under a roof overhang because moist air could be pulled back into the home where it could lead to mold and mildew problems in the attic.

Steps on Toilet Installation

Here, we asked This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey to show how to install a toilet. The time required varies, but give yourself half a day if you’ve got a lot of experience with plumbing jobs, and a full day if you’re a novice.

2. Prep the Floor and Soil Pipe

Photo by David Carmack
  • Stuff a rag into the soil pipe to block sewer gas and prevent hardware from falling in.
  • Check that the hole in the floor is large enough to accommodate the closet flange up to its collar. If the hole needs to be enlarged, trace around the flange’s base with a pencil, then cut away the excess flooring with a jigsaw. Don’t cut any joists.
  • Dry-fit the soil pipe into the closet bend. Place the flange over the soil pipe, then measure the gap between the bottom of the flange’s collar and the finish floor.
  • Remove the soil pipe and use a handsaw to trim it to the measurement in the previous step. Remove burrs by scraping the cut edge with a utility knife.
  • Dry-fit the flange to the soil pipe, and the soil pipe to the closet bend to ensure the flange’s collar rests on the floor.

3. Install the Soil Pipe and Closet Flange

Photo by David Carmack
  • The next step to replace a toilet is to wipe PVC primer on the inside of the closet bend and on the outside of one end of the soil pipe. Apply PVC cement to those same surfaces and immediately twist the soil pipe into the closet bend.
  • Prime and apply cement to the free end of the soil pipe and the inside of the closet flange. Twist and press the flange onto the soil pipe until the collar is seated on the floor.
  • Rotate the collar until its slots are positioned to the right and left of the hole. (The closet bolts, which will be inserted into the slots, must line up parallel to the wall behind the tank.)
  • Secure the collar to the floor with stainless steel screws long enough to bite into the subfloor.

Tip: When gluing a fixed-collar PVC flange, align the bolt slots quickly before the cement sets.

4. Solder the Stop Valve

Photo by David Carmack
  • Shut off the bathroom’s water-supply valve.
  • Place a bucket beneath the supply line, then sever the line with a tubing cutter. Leave about 1 inch of pipe to attach the stop valve and escutcheon. Allow the pipe to drain.
  • Remove the valve’s handle and stem. (Heat from soldering may damage the stem’s plastic washers.)
  • Dry the pipe inside and out with a rag. Clean the inside and outside of the pipe and the inside of the valve’s inlet using a wire-brush pipe cleaner. Apply flux to both areas.
  • Slip the escutcheon over the supply line, followed by the stop valve; the valve’s outlet should point upward.
  • Heat the supply line stop valve joint with a propane torch. Once the joint is hot enough to melt the solder, remove the flame and run the solder around the joint. When a drop of solder appears at the bottom, the joint is filled.

5. Install Toilet Wax Ring, Set the Bowl

Photo by David Carmack
  • Insert the long brass closet bolts, threaded-end up, into the flange collar’s slots. Slip a brass washer over each.
  • Gently press the wax ring, flat-side down, over the flange.
  • Lift the toilet bowl over the flange, align the holes in its base with the closet bolts, and lower the base onto the ring.
  • Without twisting or rocking, press the bowl down onto the wax ring until the bowl’s base rests on the floor. If the floor is uneven, shim the bowl with stainless steel washers.
  • Slip a nylon washer over each bolt, then hand-thread the nuts. Tighten the nuts with a wrench one quarter turn at a time, alternating between the two. Stop when the wrench meets firm resistance; overtightening will crack the bowl.
  • With a hacksaw, trim the closet bolts at a point two threads above the top of the nut. Snap the plastic bolt covers into place.

*Begin with this step if replacing an existing toilet or a faulty wax seal.

6. Install the Tank

Photo by David Carmack
  • Make sure the large-diameter rubber tank-to-bowl (or spud) washer on the outside of the tank’s bottom is firmly seated.
  • Fit the small-diameter rubber tank washers into the small tank holes from the inside of the tank, then insert the tank bolts.
  • Gently lower the tank onto the back of the bowl, guiding the ends of the tank bolts into the holes.
  • Slip a nylon washer onto each bolt, then hand-thread the nuts.
  • Holding each bolt head in place with a screwdriver, hand-tighten the nuts, alternating from nut to nut and checking repeatedly to make sure the tank is level. Overtightening will crack the porcelain.
  • Connect the tank’s handle to the flapper chain.

7. Install the Supply Line and Seat Assembly

Photo by David Carmack
  • Using a tubing bender, curve the supply line to fit between the stop-valve outlet and the tank-supply fitting. Then hold the pipe, flared-end-up, between these two points and mark it half an inch below the outlet. This will leave enough line to sit inside the outlet.
  • Cut the supply line at the mark made above, using a tubing cutter.
  • Slip the plastic nut, compression nut, and compression ring (in that order) onto the supply line. Add a thin coat of Teflon paste to the valve’s outlet threads, then seat the line in the outlet, and fit the compression ring.
  • Hand-tighten the supply line’s plastic nut under the tank. Then tighten the compression nut with a wrench.

8. Finishing Touches

Photo David Carmack
  • Position the seat assembly over the bowl, then insert the plastic bolts through the seat back and the bowl’s seat holes; tighten the nuts by hand.
  • Turn on the main supply line, open the stop valve, and allow the tank to fill. Flush six times. The final step to installing a toilet is to check for leaks.

Tips for Revamping a Current Bathroom

Whether you want to improve the value of your home or improve the way you feel about your bathroom, you can also consider giving an existing bathroom a facelift. This is a more affordable option than adding a whole new bathroom and can still achieve some great results. Consider these tips to help you revamp a current bathroom:

  • An affordable way to give your bath, shower or sink a new look is to replace the faucets with ones that have modern appeal.
  • Painting is a tried-and-true means of giving any room a fresh new look. You may also want to consider an accent wall with a fun wallpaper, tile or wood planking you love.
  • No one wants a dimly lit bathroom, especially at the vanity where you likely spend time getting ready. You also don’t want to have outdated light fixtures. If you’re dissatisfied with your current light fixtures, replacing them with bright ones you love is a great move.
  • The mirror over your vanity may need an update if it’s a plain, builder-grade mirror. Instead of replacing the whole mirror, consider adding a frame to give the mirror a more stylish look.

Does adding a bathroom add value to your home?

Adding a bathroom will always increase the value of your home, but how much will largely depend on your location. The average return on the west coast of the United States is around 67 percent. East coast is roughly 47 percent, but this number will change largely on the materials and size of the bathroom you are adding to your home.

Finish the walls around the tub

Figure C: Surround installation detail

Figure C: Surround installation detail

Fill in above the surround carefully for a smooth transition to the wall board.

Photo 12: Fill the gaps between the wall and panel

Photo 12: Fill the gaps between the wall and panels

Cover the flange and gap with 1/4-in. tile backer. Predrill oversized holes and drive special tile backer screws to avoid breaking the thin backer board.

Photo 13: Tile and grout Tile the back wall first, centering the layout. Then, starting at the outer corner of the end walls, tile toward the back wall and down to the floor. Let the adhesive set, then apply grout.

Making a nice wall finish around the new surround requires special attention to detail. Because of the thickness of the flange, use 3/8- or 1/4-in. backer board to keep the surface flush with the drywall (Photo 12). In addition, we chose to tile around all the edges to cover the joint and avoid a difficult taping job. The thin backer board is fragile in narrow strips; predrill and fasten it to the studs with the special screws designed for backer board. Hold it back about 1/8 in. from the edge of the surround (Figure C).

Clean and prime painted walls before tiling. Then set the tile, working from the outside corners on the end walls and from the center on the back wall for a symmetrical layout (Photo 13). Caulk the tile/tub joint the day after you grout.

Extending an existing bathroom

A popular option would be extending an existing bathroom instead of installing a new one somewhere in your home. The benefits of this would be that you get to keep your existing bathroom design as you would only be expanding the size of your previous bathroom. In addition, any modifications or improvements you make already have an existing framework to build off of which means less stress on your wallet. Depending on the size of a change you want to make, this type of installation will run anywhere from $2,000-5,000+ depending on how large you want your bathroom to be.

What Should I Know Before Adding a Bathroom?

What Should I Know Before Adding a Bathroom?

Before you look to add a new bathroom to your home, you should ask yourself, who is this bathroom for? Below are some considerations you should keep in mind when looking to add a bathroom: 

You Need Room

You Need Room

No matter what size home you have, space is always a premium. Installing a new bathroom to an existing space such as a closet, garage, or an otherwise underused part of your home can drastically increase the amount of available space. The drawback to this is that you may need to alter the plumbing to reach your new bathroom, and adding a new bathroom can be quite expensive-ranging, from $4,000-12,000.

Make it Accessible

Making a bathroom more accessible is always positive, and especially for older individuals, navigating stairs can be pretty troublesome. So before you add a bathroom, consider its accessibility and look to make it easily accessible for all household members. The most significant drawback to an accessible bathroom will also be ensuring that the plumbing lines up.

Decide on Height

Before you look to install a bathroom, remember to make your calculations and position your fixtures and accessories accordingly. You want to ensure you have a rough idea of how large your space will be to ensure that everything fits; otherwise, it will be a great hassle to re-do an area due to improper measurements.

Fit Pipes Well

You don’t want your bathroom pipes to use the exterior walls for plumbing and fixtures. When adding a bathroom, you want to ensure your pipes are aligned to accommodate everything in your bathroom layout. If you don’t have plumbing knowledge, a plumber will charge you anywhere from $700-20,000, depending on the complexity of your home and existing plumbing setup.

Consider Your Wiring

Many bathrooms often utilize a single outlet which can violate safety issues and risk overloading the power in your bathroom. Plan and distribute your wires evenly so you can use multiple outlets to power your bathroom. An electrician will charge you roughly $200-1,000, depending on the size of your bathroom.

Get Lighting Right

Proper lighting in your bathroom can make it more enjoyable and safer. Keep heavy traffic areas illuminated. You can utilize traditional lighting or add a dimmer switch for a more subdued environment. Mirror backlighting is popular as it is less intrusive than conventional setups. Lights range from $100-500, depending on style and size.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

Moisture and your bathroom don’t get along, so it’s essential to ensure that your bathroom is properly ventilated. Excess moisture can cause mold and odors, so ensure you have a fan that covers at least 1 CFM per square foot of room area. Installing a new fan with ducts and a roof vent will cost around $350, with higher-end models costing about $800.

Building a Wet Wall

A wet wall is needed to build a new bathroom, half-bath, shower unit, or laundry room in your basement. It's a bit of an undertaking, but manageable for most homeowners. With our instructions, you'll learn how to dig a trench in your concrete floor, make a connection to the main drain line, and frame a wall that encloses the drain and vent lines.


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