nutone-recessed-fan-lightIf you are renovating  your bathroom and want to add an exhaust fan — consider this minimalistic, recessed fan/light combo from NuTone/Broan. When I updated my bathrooms, I added a light/fan combination above each tub. It’s really nice to have light directly in that area, and the fan works just fine from that location as the bathrooms are quite small. Two tips:  (1) Be sure to wire the fan and light separately – I am presuming this model makes that available. And (2) put them into separate (side by side) boxes so that you can add a timer to the fan. You can use this light in other parts of the house, but I do not believe that its exhaust-power is enough for a stove. For that, you need to get the more high-powered, “utility fan”. On that front – note that I am told that Nutone no longer makes the metal cover. Ugh. Try R&I Distributing to see if they still have any in stock. Or, you’re going to have to spray paint the plastic. Finally, note, I am on the scent of another source of an authentic vintage exhaust fan that might prove terrific – stay tuned. 

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  1. Nicole says:

    53 Ranc Anita- Rejuvenation’s $100 off promotion actually goes through May 17th. (I work there) I love the idea of Otis over a bathroom mirror, never would have thought of that. Nice work!

  2. 53 Ranc Anita says:

    atomicbowler – thanks for the information. BTW – Rejuvenation has $100 off for purchases over $500. Ends today Apr 6. I bought 3 Otis lights to put over the bathroom mirror. They’re porch lights, but should work.

  3. atomicbowler says:

    Hey, Nancy–

    Sometimes those things get a honking hum and throb to the noise because the blades are hideously greasy with gobs of dust sticking to them. Might check that first.

    Don’t know if it would impact your situation, but I have seen a number of older installations (late 40’s/early 50’s as retrofits in older homes (1920’s, etc.) where the “duct” was actually the deadspace in the overhead between two joists. YIKES! I’ve never heard of a grease fire up in one of those, but they scare me silly worrying about that…if I had a setup like I just described, I’d stick a plenum up in there and run a muffin fan, hiding the mess with the original grille. Just a thought.

    PS-We have a fan, but it just means the grease sticks to the overhead ceiling and everything on the way there. 6 to one, 1/2 to the other, maybe!

  4. Glamorlux Nancy says:

    Thanks for the advice, Dave! Our home inspector told us that the blades were “unbalanced” two years ago, but we haven’t actually took the thing apart to look at it yet… Our old 1951 house didn’t even have a fan, and the kitchen never got greasy or anything (even the white painted cabinets directly above the stove), so our sense of urgency to get it working hasn’t been very high. Maybe if I got my act together and took the time to cook “real” dinners more often, it would be an absolute necessity!

  5. atomicbowler says:

    OH, yeah–
    Glamorlux Nancy? Do you mean that you have a bent fan blade that makes the thing vibrate and shake and try to ruin the motor?

    Check a good-size industrial hardware store, you will often find blade-fans in multiple diameters with multiple hub configurations “by themselves, on a plate” as I like to say.

    If there is no place near you like that, check out Grainger Industrial on-line or also McMaster-Carr. You’ll probably find something that wil work, or maybe just look at used fans in the ReStore until you find one with a blade-fan that will do.

    If the thing is a lost cause, i.e. you cannot find a blade-fan to fit it at all, consider hiding a muffin fan in the existing duct path. Could be a challenge to duct and wire (or not), but you would have a quiet, high-efficient fan and still retain your vintage fixture.

    Good luck,

  6. atomicbowler says:

    I’m staring at every fan and cover I have had in my hands that I can remember in my remodeler’s mind’s-eye to cook this up.
    There are probably a way or two to put a different cover over the fan for appearance…if you can find a cover grille that you like at a ReStore or wherever and it is slightly larger than the stock cover of the fan you are using you’re in business. Concoct a way to have sheet metal available to screw the fan cover to near the corners if there is not already. That’s the most critical, of course.

    If the cover had some sort of center-mounting affair viv s vis a hole in the middle, find some sort of finial you like and attach it with a machine screw or bolt from the other side.

    The “new” cover can be refinished if need be. There are lots of fairly convincing spray paints on the market, and if you do a good job no one will be wiser. If you are looking to replicate a chrome finish, be glad it’s up on the ceiling. If you are looking to replicate an anodized aluminum finish, try Hammerite if you can find it, or look at Rustoleum HardHat.

    You can mount the new retro slight-oversized cover with corner mounting screws. Oval-head Philips-type sheetmetal screws would be appropriate, get stainless or if you really have to have shiny chrome…there are sources if you look around.

    To look right you need to have a countersink for the screws, and since it’s sheet metal that really means a dimple as there isn’t adequate metal to really cut a countersink into.
    There are purpose made dimpling tools in the sheetmetal trade, maybe a sheet-metal shop could do it real quick on the lunch break for a tenner, or…here is a low-volume way to dimple sheet metal up to about 16ga. maximum. I’ve done this many times and it works well:

    Take a piece of HARDWOOD dowelng, about the diameter of closet rod, and clamp it in a bench vise with one end sticking up a couple inches past the jaws and the other end resting atop the sliding member of the movable jaw. If your vise is cheap and has an exposed screw, put a piece of scrap wood across there to try and spread any loads. Clamp the dowel in TIGHT.
    Drill a hole just large enough for your screw to pass into without friction more-or-less centered in the end of the dowel.
    Take a countersink, or failing that, a drill bit that looks right, and go to enough depth to JUST seat the screw head. Good. Now go a bit deeper, to just make up for the metal thickness of the part you want to dimple. This is your new dimpling die. Now layout and carefully drill the pilot holes for your screws in the corners of the grille.
    Use a screw to line up the hole in the grill with the hole in the mandrel, and have a helper hold the grille right there. DO NOT be tempted to smack the screw with a hammer, you will wind up thrashing the grille! Take a large-ish centerpunch that happens to match the taper you want, or a bolt that you have ground to profile, and use that as the mandrel. Center it on the pilot hole, tap-tap-tap (as opposed to WHUMP! BANG! OOPS-SPLIT THE METAL!) with a hammer, and there is your pretty dimple.
    Really easy and simple, the only thing to be sure of is that your tapers match.
    Mount your grille and smile, right?

    For noise considerations, I really like inline “muffin fans”. You will use a duct box in the ceiling and then run dryer-type hose to a remote, inline fan. The fans are not forever, so try to put it somewhere with service access available without cuttting things apart, right? You can run a LOT of duct length and still have PLENTY of suction, and QUIET. Nice.

    Right over the bath or shower is a great idea to me. I also like the idea of a seperate “F**t Fan” NEXT TO the toilet in the wall. I’ve seen this in a lot of older houses and it makes great sense to me.

    I have also always wanted a HEATED bathroom mirror so it wouldn’t steam up while I’m shaving. Gotta be a way.


  7. Elizabeth Mary says:

    My bathroom is also tiny (6 X 8, I think) and needed a fan. But, I really liked the original light fixture in the center of the ceiling. So, for a while I left it as it was when I bought it. Then, last year I had a fan installed right over the shower, and I love it. I went with a Nutone also and it is very quiet and bland looking, so I still get the benefits of the old light fixture but now have dry mirrors when I get out of the shower. The only downside was needed to change the switch plate to accomodate two switches. But, I like being able to use one or both of them.

  8. 1953 Ranch Anita says:

    Great information, Pam! The Nu Tone fans at Home Depot are louder than I would like. (Home Depot’s display has demonstration on how loud the different noise levels (“sones”) are – good way to get an idea of how loud the fan would be.) The Panasonic line is very quiet, but it does not have the retro look.I heard that there is a metal cover that you can buy to cover the fan to make a Panasonic fan fit the retro style. Do you have ideas of where to get something like that?

  9. 1953 Ranch Anita says:

    I’m working on my bathroom and was looking at fans. The electrician (a good one recommended by a friend) taught me about “sones” – how loud the fan would be. So an experienced electrician would be a good place to start at.

  10. Glamorlux Nancy says:

    Nice idea! Our pink bathroom has no fan, and we should put one in… Along this thread, our original 50’s Fasco kitchen exhaust fan has “unbalanced blades” and doesn’t work properly. Any ideas on who one should consult to fix it? An electrician?

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