Adventures In Replacing a Bathroom Vent

Sunday, December 30, 2007 10:29:27 PM

In our wonderful old house, which I love, we needed to replace our old bathroom fan because it just wasn't doing anything and it was very loud.  Another joy of it, was that we had one switch in the bathroom, to control the light and fan together, so if the light was on, so was that fan.  To Home Depot we go!

We found a pretty decent fan, low noise, decent air movement (60 CFM for a 30'2 bathroom should do) for about $30.00.  I started off pulling off the old fan and placing the new one over the existing hole, set the screws and started to rewire.  I wanted to wire in 2 more switches, one for the fan and one for the fan's light.  Pretty simple, right?

Our electrical in this house is beyond substandard and I have been just aching to rewire, but money and time have been lacking.  The wiring goes from the breaker box in the garage, outside to a junction box, into the kitchen wall, up into the attic to a junction box over the kitchen light which feeds the kitchen, then to a junction box over the bathroom which feeds the bathroom, then to the "master" bedroom's junction box, then to the second bedroom's junction box, then to the living room...  You get the point, one circuit, 90% of the house, not good when you have toys.

I began fishing the wires through the walls and trying to replace all the bathroom wiring, gutting what I can as I go.  All wires in the house our two conductor, oil cloth wrapped and then metal armored.  It is hard-core old school in a very bad way.  I guess I should be thankful it is not nob and tube?  The wires going from the switch up would not come out, so I had to snip those.  I could see at least two beefy staples holding it in.  I ran 3 new wires down to a new two-gang switchbox and life was good there.  I then wired up everything into a new junction box for the fan circuit, which is now mostly dedicated per code.  This circuit home-runs to the panel and ties in to the same circuit that it was using before because I have no more breakers, an issue I'm sure I'll be writing about soon.

Now, the outlet on the wall in the bathroom, which of course is not GFCI, also feeds an outlet on the opposite side of the wall.  We like to call that room the kitchen, though it is more of a glorified broom closet with a stove.  Run another wire, tie it in, new home run, rinse, lather, repeat.

Ok, all of the electrical is done.  I'm sure I missed a few problems, but that pretty much sums up my troubles.  Now, time to yank the old cover from the plaster ceiling.  Oops, was that a bunch of plaster that just fell on my head?  Yep.  Seems as though the cover was the only thing holding up the water damanged plaster surrounding the vent.  I also noticed some water in the roof rafters above the bathroom, not a good sign.  Probably a good thing we are doing this replacement.  So, now I have to either fix a plaster ceiling or replace it with sheetrock.   We opted for sheetrock, time to call the sheetrock master, my father in-law.  We get the gang together, before they arrive I hammer down all the plaster, clean up, cut the lath down prep for drywall.  They show up, we start measuring and getting ready to put up the drywall.  That's when my granddad in-law shows up, and asks if we want a sky light, his treat.  Feeling bad, knowing how much the roof-dome, shiny tube, sky lights are, I try to refuse but he iniststs.

So, I got the sky light and while they were framing in the bathroom for drywall, I got to hang in the rafters cutting a big hole in my roof...in the rain.  Roof cut, time to go to the outside.  Our roof is an 8-12 or a 9-12 pitch, which translates to pretty darn scary.  No rope, wet roof, lets rock!  We made a make-shift harness using an extension cord, a bowline knot, a cast-iron vent pipe on the roof and a brother in-law couter weight.  Mounted the dome, tarred up my hands, and completed the outside portion with a little fright but all-in-all pretty much no problems.  The hole ligned up nice, the shingles moved out of the way to let it slide up, and nobody got hurt.

So, right now we have a drywalled bathroom with all new electrical, GFCI outlets, a new fan/light combo, a skylight and a new run for the kitchen that keeps it off the same circuit.  I've ran three new home runs of wire to the panel, even though I joined them in a junction box for the time being.  All that we need to do now is finish the drywall mudding, texture, paint and admire.  All of this work to get a new fan installed.  I love this house.

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