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What is the best way to install a bathroom exhaust fan in a short, dropped ceiling? From what I can tell without having removed anything, the tiles look to be at most 3 inches below the actual ceiling underneath. Are there fans which include a housing that can expand downward to fill the few inch void between the grill mounted on the tiles and the actual ceiling? If not, then I assume some type of duct work needs to be added? I have not yet purchased the fan.

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There's really no extension involved. You'd suspend the fan flush with the drop ceiling tile as you normally would with drywall. The specific hardware used depends on the fan. You could DIY by simply adding metal or wooden crossbars with sheet metal screws to the fan housing that rest on the tile and extend over the grid rails. Some kits may offer bars similar to what you'd get with a recessed light canister.

You'd also need to create clearance in the drywall ceiling. If there's no insulation there, that's easy. Just give yourself enough room to work and hack out a rectangle.

If you're in an insulated ceiling you'll need to box it out and be sure to replace the insulation above, along with any vapor barrier present.

  • The one problem I see is if the fan is mounted on the ceiling tile, there will not be enough room for the duct fitting that sticks out of the side of the housing, which would not be an issue if mounting in the normal way directly on the drywall ceiling. The only way I can see around that is to cut a slot in the drywall ceiling alongside the rectangular hole, to allow for the duct fitting. Does that sound like a good solution, or is there a better way to do it? – garypch May 10 '18 at 20:25
  • That's the ticket. It's what I meant by "room to work". – isherwood May 10 '18 at 20:42

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