Think Fix It First, Replace It Second – Replacing A Bathroom Fan

by The Happy Rock on January 6, 2009

bathroom-fan-fixedFor months we have had a very squeaky fan in our bathroom. The task of fixing the fan has haunted my todo list for months.  It drained my energy and laughed as each day passed that I consciously put it off.  The fan is a 10 year old contractor grade fan and my initial thought was just to get a new one, but the idea of spending money is what caused the task to languish.

Spending money is an ordeal for the frugal at heart.  It means researching prices, fan quality, and proper sizing…none of which I know anything about right now.  All those things are the inertia that needs to be overcome before the task actually gets done.  The best way to overcome the inertia on big projects is to break it up in to small well defined easily accomplished tasks.

After some motivational help from The Rockette, I finally went to the Big Orange to check out fans.  I was quite surprised to realize that a quality new fan was going to be close to $100 dollars.  After some study, it seems the main difference between inexpensive fans is the sound versus power ratio.  Our bathroom is small so I don’t need a big fan and I also don’t mind having to hear that a fan is running.  I would almost prefer hearing it, so that we remember to shut it off.

I went home disappointed because I was ready to put off the task again. I contemplated looking on Craigslist or eBay, but then came the epiphany , Fix It First! Not sure why my frugal self didn’t go there first, but that is why I am writing this article…to help change our thought processes.

I loosened two screws and the fan was down in two minutes.  In ten minutes I had vacuumed and cleaned the years of built up dirt from the motor and fan blades.  I applied some Canola oil to the fan shaft and fix the misaligned duct pipe as an added bonus.  Now the fan was purring.   I reinstalled it and it’s like having an almost like new fan!  $100 saved for about 20 minutes of work.  $300 an hour!

Think Fix It First!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed January 6, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I hope it lasts…


Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet January 6, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Congrats on a job well done! Don’t you hate when you’ve been putting something off and when you finally get to it it only takes a few minutes.


Krunk January 7, 2009 at 5:40 am

I noticed you mention you used canola oil to lubricate the fan shaft. Does that really work? I would’ve thought something like WD-40 would be better.


The Happy Rock January 7, 2009 at 7:51 am

@Ed – If it doesn’t, I really am not much worse off. I think it will last though.

@Ashley – It does feel silly, but yet it still feels so good to be done. The task ends up weighing 100 pounds because you put it off so long.

@Krunk – It seems to have worked fine. I would have used a real lubricant, but most of my tools are packed away so that our little condo shows much better. This was a quick and easy at home solution.


Jessica W January 11, 2009 at 10:00 am

Great save ! Congrats on fixing it and hopefully it will work for long time. We can save a lot with this kind of house fixes.


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