New Cover for a Bathroom Fan

4 Materials
30 Minutes

When a cover for a bathroom fan becomes so old and brittle it falls to pieces when you need to change a bulb, you have to get creative. This was at a friend's house, they didn't know what do do next, so I had this idea.

My pilot buddy Kathy owns a house built in 2003. The bathroom fan cover had become heat damaged from incandescent lamp. When we went to change the bulb, the brittle cover crumbled. This (pictured) is what was left. We looked for a replacement fan and found it was an odd size, with most replacements in the $200 range. It was also between the first and second floor, so tearing it out and putting in something similar would have been a big job. I asked her to give me a shot on something creative.

We found this Nutone cover on Amazon for $18.00. Add a couple dollars of simple hardware and I have a plan.

I got a few L brackets at the local hardware store, both 1" and 2" just in case. It turned out the 1" fit better on the lamp side, and the 2" on the other side, because it fit an existing hole. Here I'm holding up a 1" and marking where I want to drill a 5/32" hole to attach the L bracket with a No. 10x 1/2" sheet metal screw. Note that both of my bracket mounting screws are located where there is NO electrical to worry about.

Here you can see I've already installed the 1" bracket on the left (Just above my first knuckle) and am installing the 2" bracket on the right to an existing hole in the housing. Note that I'm using a quality screwdrived and not a power tool. I did not want to risk 'stripping' the hole with more torque than needed.

With both brackets mounted, I held up the cover. A couple of nice 'ears' in the middle of the plastic gave me a nice spot to attach some screws. Here you can see I marked a spot (black Sharpie to the right of my thumb) to drill for the left side where the 1" bracket is. I used a 1/8" drill bit.

I used a clip-on Speed nut (No 8) with a No 8x1" sheet metal screw. The first speed nut is barely visible on the L-bracket, so I'm holding an additional speed nut below so you can see the orientation of the one on the bracket.

On the right side I used a No. 8 x2" screw because I bought a couple of them not knowing the final height of the fan cover. I didn't have room for the 2" on the left due to the angle of the lamp cover. Once attached, the fan cover is now in place and very secure, the home-owner says better than the original. We installed a 9W LED this time with a much lower heat output, and longer life as well.

I bought the 2" screws just for this job. I have a small storage tote at home I keep other spares in, I had the 1" on hand. If you own a cordless drill, a handfull of sheetmetal screws are nice to keep around. They work in metal and wood as well.

And finally with the lamp cover installed and the power on. Yes, there's a hint of light leaking out around the sides. I offered to put a 1/8" line of caulk around it but Kathy says it's fine. Absolutely no rattles etc from this cover, and we saved about $160 so I'm calling this a win.

I know this is not the typical fun/cute DIY you see here on Hometalk, but if I can help someone else save a buck or two, and clean up some simple asthetics, why not? One nice thing about this DIY, there was no electrical at all (other than swapping the bulb)

Holler if you have any questions, and please comment if you have ideas to make it better for then next person. Happy Hometalking!

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2 of 14 comments
  • Trudy
    on Mar 14, 2020

    I am happy to read something practical and useful!

  • Thomas Ophardt
    on Mar 21, 2020

    great idea! I would have taken that hot bulb out, though, during the process.

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