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Bathroom exhaust fan problem - please help

Posted by gardeningannie (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 4, 12 at 17:37

My bathroom exhaust fan is doing anything but ! Noticed today when replacing the bulb and cleaning the grooves that a lot of hot 'attic smelling' air was flowing all around the vent cover. Temps today are 100 degrees, so had two thoughts: 1.Keep fan running to exhaust the heat out instead of in and 2. Line up someone to better insulate around the fan. Problem is the fan doesn't seem to be drawing any air out of the room. Even held a tissue up to the fan and nothing although it sounds like it's running smoothly.

The fan is a Broan QTR series fan/light/night light combo. The exhaust is vented to the outside by a short piece of ductwork with a flapper at the outside to keep birds, etc. out (like a dryer vent would be done). It was professionally installed in 2008, but installer has since moved to another state, so I can't contact him.

I get that the area needs insulation to reduce the heat/cold when the fan is not in use, but what is keeping it from even pulling a tissue up to it when on. I've never had the feeling that it wasn't doing the job, but now have serious doubts as I don't think this problem just started.

I can usually figure things out if given the facts and some thought, but this has me baffled. Counting on my Gardenweb buddies for a bit of 'handyman' advice. Happy 4th !


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Bathroom exhaust fan problem - please help

Hi Make sure the flapper on the vent works freely. You said it was like a dryer. Bath fans also have a flapper on the housing make sure that works.Bath fans come apart pretty easy from the iside the house. If you can go into the attic, in the early moring go up there and make sure the vent is connected.
Good Luck woodbutcher


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RE: Bathroom exhaust fan problem - please help

Woodbutcher ~ thanks so much for your reply. This sounds like a job for a handyman and not a 65 year old woman, but this gives me some thoughts to share with him.

Would certainly explain the 'attic smell' flowing in in spite of the fact that the fan is vented to the outside, so it does sound as though something has come apart.

Having said that, I just keep thinking that even if the vent pipe has come apart, it seems like the fan should still draw. Instead, when turned on, it won't even hold a tissue ~ in other words, absolutely no pull at all ~ just the fan noise, but no air movement. Really strange. Thanks for your thoughts and time.


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RE: Bathroom exhaust fan problem - please help

There may also be a flapper just after the fan, that won't open for some reason.
Check Broan/Nutone's website for a FAQ section, maybe?


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RE: Bathroom exhaust fan problem - please help

Thanks for your thoughts. The vent levers to the outside wall were opening fully when the fan was on, thus eliminating the possibility of 'stuck levers' or any thing disconnected as being the problem.

So, I called Broan and spoke with a man who said it sounded like the motor wasn't doing it's job and in spite of the fan being out of warranty, he was very generous in his offer to send a new motor at no cost. I'm a Broan fan for life as a result.

On Monday, our handyman is coming to install the new motor and use spray foam around the opening to the attic which should eliminate the 'attic smell'. I think that sealing up this gap will also improve the fan 'draw'.

I can always count on my Gardenweb family to come to my rescue ~ thanks for your time ! gardening annie


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RE: Bathroom exhaust fan problem - please help

It's probably time for a new exhaust fan. The three in one fans are kinda tricky because you can't use either of the features too much especially the light because it wear down the motor quicker. I bout a fan in 2006 online and its been rolling with the punches of Arizona and Cincinnati heat.


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RE: Bathroom exhaust fan problem - please help

How on earth would using lights 'wear a motor down?' If you're talking about voltage drop, then the circuit's underwired.

I don't know what the code states, but in engineering terms, a circuit, including a breaker or fuse, should not be loaded more than 80% of the rated capacity.

If a light or other ancillary device draws that much current that it affects the motor performance, you have a problem.

As for heat causing an issue with motor life, it's a design issue.


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RE: Bathroom exhaust fan problem - please help

Well, I don't know about any of that ~ I'm just happy my fan is working again. New motor was installed, gap was filled and caulked and all is well. Thanks again !


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RE: Bathroom exhaust fan problem - please help

That's great. I bet the new one is quieter too, I sure appreciated that when I changed ours.


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