Bathroom Exhaust Vent Acting Up? Check Out These DIY Repair Tips

bathroom ventilation system

Is the exhaust vent in your bathroom rattling, showing signs of decreased performance, or outright not working?

In today’s post, we’ll examine a few ways you can do simple DIY repairs all on your own, because maintaining your bathroom exhaust vent is more important than you might think. It’s not there just to remove unpleasant odors—it protects your home from the effects of humidity common in bathrooms, especially full bathrooms with a shower and tub.

Let’s begin by discussing what your bathroom exhaust fan does exactly, and then we’ll move on to some common problems and how to resolve them. In some cases, you might need a professional to help you, and that’s what we’re here for.

Your Bathroom Exhaust Vent is Responsible For More Than You Might Think

how to fix bathroom ventilation

The exhaust vent in your bathroom has several purposes, but the primary one is to reduce humidity in the room caused by running water (e.g., in the shower). Humidity left unchecked can cause a lot of damage to a home in the form of ruining paint, causing wallpaper to peel, and even causing wooden objects like the door to the room to warp.

Of course, and perhaps most importantly, mold loves humid environments—keeping your bathroom as dry as possible will prevent it from accumulating. In a nutshell, humidity is the enemy. Besides, nobody likes a foggy mirror.

In addition to the removal of unpleasant odors, your exhaust vent is also responsible for removing airborne contaminants from the room. Consider that your bathroom is one of the places in your home most likely to be cleaned with rather strong chemicals, and that’s not something you want to let linger in the space, let alone breathe in.

The Most Common Problem Leading to Reduced Bathroom Exhaust Performance

Next time you’re in your bathroom, try this quick test: take a piece of toilet paper and hold it up to the exhaust vent. You should feel it getting pulled upward. If not, your exhaust is functioning less ideally than it should be.

Whenever you’re experiencing reduced performance from your bathroom exhaust vent (that is to say, it hasn’t stopped working completely) the very first thing to check for are obstructions. Bathroom vents are often forgotten as part of the cleaning process, especially in smaller bathrooms where they can be unwieldy to get at.

Check the visible parts for dust. If you can see quite a bit, it’s time for a cleaning. If necessary, remove the grate of the vent and remove any dirt, dust, or debris you find. Do the “toilet paper test” again and see if the performance has improved.

What to Do When Your Bathroom Exhaust Isn’t Working at All

diy bathroom vent repair

If you’re sure that an obstruction isn’t causing the problem and there’s no air flow at all, odds are there’s a problem with the fan. It may need to be cleaned or replaced.

Whenever working on an exhaust fan (in your bathroom or elsewhere), turn off the power to it at your circuit breaker or switch. You do not want any accidents to happen—disabling the power at the circuit breaker level ensures that no mistakes will be made.

Once the power is safely off, you can remove the vent cover to get at the fan. Most fan covers have metal pins on either side. These should be gently squeezed to release the cover. The fan should then be visible, and it can be unplugged from the fixture. Some models are easier than others, but make sure you have a screwdriver handy just in case.

Remove the fan and inspect it for obstructions for damage. If the fan still doesn’t work after a thorough cleaning, it more than likely must be replaced. Don’t delay on installing a replacement, since as you know the longer you go without a proper exhaust the more likely it is that humidity will build up in the bathroom and cause home damage.

When to Call a Professional to Repair Your Bathroom Exhaust Vent

If you’re having difficulty reaching your exhaust vent or feel at all uncertain about fiddling with the fan and other components on your own, your best course of action is to contact an HVAC specialist like the ones on our team here at Best Buy Heating and Air.


While you’re at it, why not consider scheduling us for a full inspection of your HVAC system? We’ll uncover and resolve any other issues you may be having, which will lead to lower energy bills and increased performance.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to serving you!

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