Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bathroom Redo - Part 1: We Gotta Vent

Last week I spilled the beans about how we're tackling the bathroom first instead of the nursery (although it's really killing me not to get started in there yet! I blame the hormones.)

The first part of our bathroom remodel actually didn't involve demo - surprising, huh?

Instead it involved installing a fan vent.

While not the most exciting remodeling update, fan vents serve a great function by venting out the steam from a shower so it goes outside and doesn't stick around your bathroom. They're pretty standard in homes nowadays, but oftentimes older homes will be lacking in the vent department.

Why are they so important? Here's what would happen everyday when it was shower-time: Steam would rise from the shower, causing it to get really hot and sticky in the bathroom. Condensation would form on the walls, the sink, heck - even inside the medicine cabinet. Said steam/condensation would then hit a point and start streaking/dripping down the walls, causing mildew buildup everywhere in our bathroom and actually causing things like the door handle and glass shelf supports to rust (admittedly, we do take hot showers, but this even happened in the winter time when we only have a 15-minute window of hot water to work with and the starting temperature in the bathroom was pretty chilly. Honestly, I think it's the combo of not having anywhere to vent and having such a small bathroom space).

Lovely, right?

So in order to protect and preserve all our efforts of the future bath remodel, we knew we needed to install this not-so-exciting-but-totally-functional-and-worthwhile vent in there.

While I was busy at work, Tom got right to it.

First he examined the light switch. And immediately hit his first obstacle (figures, right?).

The electrical system for the light switch was a nightmare. What the heck is going on with these wires?!...

Fast forward 3 hours later, and he finally got it figured out. Don't ask me how - I've no idea how he did that. I must say I'm totally impressed, though. You go, Tom.

He installed a new light switch and ran new wires up the wall and into the attic, which required that he completely empty out our office closet nook, since that's where our attic access is. Fun, right?

Then it was time for fan installation!

Bathroom fan vents are usually installed in about the middle of the space and not directly over the shower for safety reasons. So Tom took apart our towel rack and marked where he wanted the fan vent... with the towel rack rod. Nice, honey. (it's a good thing I'm still on the fence about keeping that particular towel rack!)

It was a special way of marking it, but I can't argue with the logic - once he was knee-deep in insulation up in the attic, he said it was super-easy to see that rod sticking out of the sea of newspaper-like insulation. Then it was an easy task of cutting out the drywall to fit the new vent, creating a cardboard "barrier" to keep the insulation away from the vent, and installing it (sorry, no photos of that part - it was too hot and cramped up there for him to lug up the camera!).

Then comes the fun part (because we hadn't had enough fun yet, apparently!). It's strongly recommended to vent bathroom fans to the outside, since venting straight into your attic can cause all sorts of problem, thanks to the steam buildup that would be accumulating up there.

There are several different ways to vent a fan: through the roof, through the side of the house, or through the roof's soffit.

Since we didn't want to touch the roof (roof leaks scare us!), and venting through the wall seemed impossible (how would we do that?!), we opted for the soffit vent.

So Tom ran some duct tubes from the vent over to the roof soffit area, and marked the spot. We went outside and he used a variety of tools to cut into the soffit. We followed the directions on the soffit venting-thing and traced an outline of the circle onto the soffit, which Tom then cut out. After taping and screwing in the duct tube to the soffit vent, it was a simple matter of caulking and screwing in the vent.

And we were done! Hallelujah.

Check out these beautiful before and after photos of our bathroom ceiling...

I know this post makes it sound decently easy, but in reality it took alot of work to get that simple, innocent little fan vent up in our bathroom. Of course anyone can do it, but it took us amateurs (although mostly Tom) a good 8 hours or so once it was all said and done.

But the good news? It was alot of work, but it was totally worth it. We noticed an immediate difference the next time we showered with how much moisture was in the room and was accumulating on the walls, which was fantastic! It means a cleaner bathroom and much less damage to everything in it, which is a priority since we'll be totally redoing the space (and why spend valuable time and money redoing something if it can't stay nice, anyways?).

And even more good news? In our area a bathroom fan vent installation runs about $450. Guess how much we spent total? $100 on supplies. We saved $350 by doing it ourselves.

Gotta love DIY.

What about you? Have you ever installed a bathroom fan vent? Have you ever dealt with an older bathroom that didn't have one? Anyone else know what I mean with the "dripping wet walls"?

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  1. I have to do this job as well but have been putting it off for 8 years.

    Didn't know you could do a sofit install.. makes me more inclined to do it.. but will i be inclined enough to actually do it?

    Wish I could see the attic install in your setup.

  2. I know exactly what you mean about water dripping! Our house is about 100 years old and even though there's a fan it's pretty pathetic (and I'm pretty sure it just goes into the attic although I haven't bothered to go up and check). I'd love to have a better fan to help with all of the moisture in there. Great job saving $350!

  3. Where did you buy the vents? What brand/store did you get it from?

  4. NancyO -

    We bought all the supplies from Lowe's. The bathroom ceiling vent we picked was a pretty basic standard one (they have all sorts - some with heaters and lights, even) and cost about $30 (sorry, we can't recall the exact brand).

    Hope it helps!


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