A bathroom fan controls moisture and keeps air in the bathroom fresh. Fans dispel steam, eliminate odors, and prevent mold and mildew damage. In high-traffic bathrooms, a fan is an absolute must.
Exhaust fans need an electrical connection and ventilation to the exterior of your home (or in some cases the attic). Most electricians can do both wiring and venting, but some people choose to hire an HVAC professional for venting. With new construction, the electrician typically does the wiring and the HVAC professional does the venting.
Some fans incorporate a light fixture; others do not. Some fans/light fixtures also incorporate heaters to keep your bathroom warm and comfortable when you’re getting out of the shower.
Generally, the wiring and venting requirements are the same no matter which combination you choose. But if your fan performs multiple functions, you’ll need a multiple-switch fixture.
Additional features to consider include speed controls and noise dampening technology. If you have children, consider investing in a humidity sensor that turns the fan off and on automatically - this way the fan won’t run unnecessarily if the little ones forget to turn it off.
The total cost depends on the type of fan you choose, the difficulty of installation and local labor rates.
- The fan itself can cost anywhere from about $30 to $400, depending on features. A basic, single-speed fan without a light or heater falls on the low end of that range. On the high end, you’ll get a top-of-the-line model with a light, a heater, variable speeds and more.
- Installation generally costs $200 to $400. Plan to pay on the low end of that range if your ceiling is already wired and/or fitted with ventilation ducting. Budget on the high end if it’s not, or if the ceiling is difficult to access.
Because prices vary so widely, it’s always a good idea to get estimates from multiple electricians before choosing one. Make sure the quote includes a line-by-line breakdown of all costs, including materials and the hourly rate. Hourly rates vary widely from one region of the country to the next, ranging from about $40 to $100. The national average is probably closer to $50 to $80 per hour.
A ventilation system is necessary for your fan to do its job. If your bathroom has never had an exhaust fan, installing duct work for ventilation is a must. The duct work will run through the bathroom ceiling to the attic or the outside of the home. Most experts recommend venting to the outside of the home - and many local codes require it - but venting to the attic can work if the attic itself has adequate ventilation.
Installing the bathroom fan yourself can save a significant amount of money. However, this is only advisable if you’re replacing an existing bathroom fan and/or light. Any type of electrical work should only be handled by a professional electrician. If you’re renting, the law requires you to hire a professional to do the job.
Price is important, but you should never choose an electrician (or any tradesman) on price alone. It’s important to hire someone who is experienced and reputable. Here are some tips for finding an electrician you can trust:
- Make sure the electrician is licensed. Ask to see a copy of his or her current license, or ask for the licensing number and check with your state’s labor department or licensing board to make sure the license is active.
- Do some background research on any electrician you’re considering. Ask for references and check them all. Check the electrical company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau.
- Make sure the electrician obtains the necessary permits. Unlicensed electricians can’t secure permits, so consider the lack of permits a major red flag.
- Make sure the electrician carries at least $1 million worth of liability insurance to protect your home (and bank account) in the event of an accident.
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