My bathroom fan suddenly stopped working and planning to replace current one with this one from Amazon but I am having hard time unscrewing the existing one. Here is the picture of current fan, highlighting screws that I am battling with: https://imgur.com/59wkg0f

Used all the screw drivers from this picture and still it won't move.

Any ideas on how to unscrew? TIA.

enter image description here

  • 4
    It's difficult to be sure from the pic, but it looks at though you still have the fan 'body' attached to its housing up in the ceiling. If that's the case I strongly recommend that you take it out (usually just one or 2 screws on one side and a clip or slot on the other) so that you can work on this down at ground level instead. It'll make the task 10 x easier.
    – brhans
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 21:01
  • 3
    see the screw on the right edge of the picture? ... remove it ... that should allow the whole assembly to be removed from the ceiling
    – jsotola
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 21:02
  • 1
    the whole silver metal plate should swing down ... it is hinged on jeft side in the picture ... tbe two metal tabs on left fit into slots in the metal box
    – jsotola
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 21:57
  • 4
    I once removed things like this by drilling a small hole in the screw head and hammering a square bit into the hole; nice tight connection. Repeated multiple times. Alternately you can just drill the heads off the screws as you have replacements
    – Chris
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 3:05
  • 1
    Note Amazon has a big problem with counterfeit electrical equipment, which can be a fire hazard. The linked unit advertises UL certification, which is good. I strongly recommend validating that certification when it arrives.
    – Reid
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 19:12

8 Answers 8


Once you have the assembly out of the ceiling and on your workbench, you'll probably find that there are hex nuts on the other end of those screws, possibly with thread sealant. If removing the motor from the mounting plate will further the repair, loosen the hex nuts with a wrench while holding the screw heads with a screwdriver. Judicious application of heat may help if there is thread locker on the screws.

Even if you manage to remove the two screws on the motor with the assembly still in the ceiling, it gains you nothing. The fan remains attached to the motor shaft, and that fan won't come through that hole.

  1. Remove the 1 screw near the outlet.

  2. Use a putty knife to break the seal between the brown adhesive at the bottom of picture #3 and the motor mounting plate.

  3. The right side of the plate swings down and pivots on the two tabs on the left side. It's stuck, so pry it, encourage it or force it until it comes free. It will come free, you just need to work on it.

Before you consider replacement, plug the motor into a working outlet to confirm that you have a bad motor, not bad wiring that feeds a good motor.


Try with a pair of locking pliers on the shaft of the best fitting screwdriver and press with all your weight when turning with the pliers.

Some penetrating oil might help also.


You remove the whole bracket. Just that one screw. Your power plug is already detached. It is designed that way.

When mine when bad, I just bought a new fan and only used the motor with bracket (it was easier than trying to find and order parts).

It is one of the easiest repair jobs you will ever do!

  • 2
    This is the correct answer to the question that should have been asked. The whole bracket is designed to be replaced as a unit. While people sell individual fans, it is far easier to replace the whole module.
    – gbronner
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 14:06


You presumably used the wrong screwdriver to begin with. Most people should lock up their "small" (#1) Phillips in a vault and never touch it again until they're doing work on small electronics. They're almost never the right size for household hardware. #2 is what you need for 99% of home improvement work, and 0.9% of the time you need #3.

Or your screwdriver is in poor condition. Screwdrivers wear out, especially if they're misused in the wrong size screws or as drilling or prying tools. Phillips screwdrivers can't be easily repaired, so replace them.

Or, you didn't apply force parallel to the screw. Phillips is a convenient design, but it requires good technique. Press straight, press hard, at least until the screw breaks free.


Every homeowner and DIY mechanic should own a mechanical impact driver. They're a tool with screwdriver bits and a stricken handle. They allow directed force to break sticky screws free.

Or, a locking (Vice-Grip) pliers can do the job, if there's clearance to get the jaws on the screw sideways, with the teeth parallel to the screw shaft. Clamping it on end is less effective.

As a last resort, use a rotary tool (Dremel) to cut a clean slot in the screw and use a large flat-blade screwdriver to remove the screws.

  • Actually there are two nuts above those two screws(from inside), thats the reason those two won’t come out. I will post a picture of what I am talking about.
    – javanoob
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 13:59
  • 1
    No need. I get it.
    – isherwood
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 14:00

There's a special type of pliers called front grip pliers, aka "screw removal pliers".

The Japanese brand ENGINEER is famous for them, but Knipex has started making them as well. Specific models include

  • ENGINEER: PZ-56 (slip joint), PZ-57, PZ-58, PZ-59 (combination pliers in increasing size)
  • Knipex: 82 01 200 (slip joint, dipped handles), 82 02 200 (slip joint, comfort grip)

Looking closer at your photo I see these won't work here, since the screws are recessed.


Sometimes a stripped phillips screw can be removed with the addition of a wide rubber band between the scewdriver tip and the screw head.

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/woodworking/21015710/easy-way-to-extract-a-stripped-screw source: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/woodworking/21015710/easy-way-to-extract-a-stripped-screw

Here is a video demonstrating how this works:


  • You don't need Creative Commons status. You just need attribution.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 15:02

The other answers are probably better, but you can also use a small saw to cut across the head of the screw AND the piece the screw is holding at the same time, creating a new slot in the screw head. Now, use a large slotted screwdriver to undo the stripped screws.


I would try all the suggestions that avoid removing the screw (upside-down) in the first place, but failing those, use a screw extractor. It's basically a reverse-threaded tapered drill bit. You put your drill in reverse to embed the bit into the screw head, and eventually the friction and CCW rotation unscrew it. I own the set I linked and use it all the time. Once a screw is truly stripped (or even vaguely stripped) it's not wise to try and reuse it, so destroying it isn't a problem.

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