My ancient 1960s bathroom fan (a NuTone 8832) stopped working. I removed the cover and fan, but the "metal box" assembly is still in the ceiling. I'm not sure how to get it out.

Here's the unit, with the cover and fan removed: bathroom fan box

What I've tried:

  • undo all exposed screws. didn't help.
  • look for a way to tilt or pry a piece of it down. no luck there either.

Any ideas how to get this box out of my ceiling? I bought a new fan unit, but I need to get the old one out before I can install the new one! :)

  • I'm going to suspect brute strength and some drywall repair, but perhaps someone else will have a better idea.
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 29, 2014 at 20:09

2 Answers 2


I am assuming that new fan is bigger or same size.

  • You have joists that this is nailed/screwed into. Try not to damage adjacent drywall. I am going to guess from this picture your joists are on the top/bottom of picture.
  • This is because your exhaust/and electric look to be coming from the left. I would cut straight along the top and bottom (using picture) of the fan cut-out and extend that about 2 feet to the left.
  • Remove drywall
  • Take out old fan with hammer or screwdriver or just club it out gently.
  • Install new fan - with the 2 feet you have room for maneuver duct into fan slot and electric work.
  • Put new piece of drywall on and then you have 3 pretty easy seams to mud/tape.

It's either attached to a joist or there are brackets attached to the joists. Look for screws or nails on the side of the box into the joist. If it is brackets, you will need to use a reciprocating saw to cut it out. Make sure you don't hit the wire though.

  • If you click on the below link for the instructions and look at page 2, Figure 4, you'll see where the bracket is located that is probably screwed to the joist, where mentioned in an answer above you'd need to saw it off if you can't reach/see the screws. homedepot.com/catalog/pdfImages/94/…
    – user20754
    Mar 31, 2014 at 18:33

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