I am trying to remove an old (1950s) kitchen exhaust fan shroud. I went into the attic thinking it was attached to the ceiling joists with mounting brackets but found no exposed fasteners whatsoever (not even on the other side of the joists). When I looked inside the shroud from the kitchen I found two nails that I believe are solely responsible for its mounting, but in the confined space I am having a very difficult time removing one of them.

The nail is the further from the wall, so I'd have to be inside my cabinets and on top of my stove to get a good angle. Plus it has a tiny head -- could be an old finishing nail. Add in some sixty-year-old grease/dust and it becomes quite difficult.

My 12-inch prybar barely fits inside the shroud, and even so I don't get any leverage. Due to the angle I can't get a great grip on the head with a needle-nose pliers but I keep trying since I can't think of anything else.

Is there anything else I can try?





2 Answers 2


When all else fails, brut force. I'm assuming you don't want to reinstall this fan so try going up in the attic and beating it out with a 2x4, forcing it down into the kitchen. You'll probably bend the nail holding it in and the shroud should slide down and out..... Good luck.

  • That's definitely my course of action if another answer doesn't do a great job of convincing me otherwise :) Aug 25, 2019 at 15:35
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    Plywood on the stove if it's still there! Nobody likes catching a falling knife. Aug 25, 2019 at 16:21
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate I barely skidded by using newspaper -- plywood would have been better. Luckily the chunks of sheet rock were small enough not to break through. Aug 26, 2019 at 13:48

I ended up successfully using JACK's brute-force method with success. I was wrong about the nail in-question being solely responsible for mounting, however, so I'd just like to share what I found.

The old fan shroud actually mounted on the bottom side of the joists between them and the sheet rock. Pounding on the unit from above exposed these nails, and once they were out the unit was easily removable. This picture from a HomeD review of my new fan unit is very similar to mine. Note that the third mounting hole, opposite the exhaust vent, was not used in my setup.

Similar fan unit

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