Well That Explains Why Our Fan Doesn’t Work!

So back when I started this bathroom project, I knew something had to be done with the fan.  I’ve kinda been putting it off because frankly, I didn’t really wanna climb up into the attic.  I hoped that by cleaning the old fan up and lubricating the motor that it would magically start working again.  Yeah, like that would ever happen!  The one thing that worried me about just leaving the old fan in there though was the fact that when I pulled off the fan’s grill, I found a bee.  A dead bee, but the slats in the the grill were pretty narrow and I don’t think he could have gotten in via the bathroom.  The only other explanation is that he flew in from outside.  And I didn’t like that explanation either.  So I decided he was just a lone bee and he got lost.  Or at least I tried to convince myself of that.  Maybe by thinking it hard enough, it’d be true?

Then my dad offered to come up and help me put in a new fan.  Suddenly going up in the attic didn’t seem so bad.  I mean, he’s replaced more fans than I have, he’s actually been up in and has worked in attics, and he has all the fun tools :)  But I still had to go up and scout things out so he’d know what to bring.  It started out well enough…


That’s our attic!  It looks smaller than it actually is because the ceilings in the kitchen/dining room and living room are vaulted.  If you peer over the probably-not-code cardboard retaining walls, you can find them:


And if you follow the electrical wiring, and dig through a foot or so of insulation, you find a fan!


I excavated around the fan a bit further and unearthed this:


Spectacular!  Now I’m all worried about mice in our house!

I also found this gem:


Yup, that’s standard duct tape (not the foil kind like you’re supposed to use on duct work, confusing, I know) wrapped around the bottom chord of the roof truss, totally kinking off the 3″ flexible plastic “duct”.  Ugh, that picture seriously makes me cringe.

Since we’ll be replacing the whole thing (fan and duct), I had to find where it vented out.  Instead of venting straight up through the roof, or even out the side wall nearby, I finally found the vent 18′ away on the other side of the attic:


Huh… I mean, the wall right by the fan would mean a vent would be right over our deck, so I guess I get that, and going through the roof… well, maybe they just didn’t want to put more holes in the roof, which I also get, but still…  anyway… remember that bee I found in the grill?  Yeah… I found his house:


I gingerly picked around it just in case there were any sleepers in it.  The insulation stuck to the top of it, so it’s kinda hard to tell from this top view but the teal arrows point to the duct and the red arrows outline the edges of the hive.  I didn’t actually measure it, but it was pretty massive!


I shouted through the attic hatch for my husband to grab me some plastic bags and a giant garbage bag so I could clean everything up.  Fortunately, there was no one home, and the hive was pretty crumbly, so I’m guessing it hadn’t been inhabited for a while (our house did sit empty for a year before we moved in almost 2 years ago), but the bees did some pretty extensive damage to the duct while they were there:


There were several holes in the ducting (I cringe every time I call this flexible plastic tubing ‘ducting’ because it totally isn’t in my opinion!) and the hive was actually extending into the lumen!  How crazy is that!?  I guess that explains why our fan did absolutely nothing!  And I’m really glad we decided to replace it instead of just living with the old one and hoping the cleaning/lubrication helped it out!

Since the hive was extending into the duct, and since we’re replacing it anyway, I decided to just rip it all out while I was up there.  Here’s the hive after I ripped the top half off:


(I should probably mention that I was fully suited up while I was up in the attic- I’m talking isolation suit, booties, hat, mask, goggles, headlight and gloves- even if there were bees in there, there wasn’t much skin for them to get at.  I really should have taken a picture- I looked like a marshmallow!)

Once I had the hive remnants cleaned up, I disconnected the ‘duct’ from the vent and guess what I found!?  Yup, more hives!


These looked newer than that giant behemoth of a hive, but no one was home in them either, so they got bagged up too.  I took off that stupid reducer because the duct we’re putting in will be 4″.  Also note the fibers from the improper form of duct tape.  If we use this vent, we’ll have to seal it up better:


Also, we’ll have to cut an actual circle.  And probably properly flash it.  Awesome.

(and yes, those are dead bee bodies along the bottom between the vent and the OSB)

In the meantime, I threw some house tape over that opening so nothing can get in before we either hook up some new ducting to it or patch it up.

So besides the whole there’s-a-giant-bee’s-hive-in-our-attic, and the fact that at one point there was a critter up there, I rather enjoy being up in the attic- climbing from truss to truss is kinda fun!

There’s a giant snowstorm heading our way this weekend, so the state of the roads will determine when my dad will be able to come up to help me out, but I really can’t wait to start working up there!  AHHHH!!! I seriously love house projects!!!

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10 Responses to Well That Explains Why Our Fan Doesn’t Work!

  1. brandy says:

    that was cool.

    • Rebecca Lynn says:

      Thanks! I was seriously dreading going up there- in my head it was cold and dark and icky, but I brought up a light with me (and had a headlight for those hard-to-reach corners) and it wasn’t nearly as cold as I thought it would be. I actually rather enjoyed climbing around up there and exploring a bit- can’t wait to go back up and see what else I can find/learn!

  2. Crysface says:

    yikes! I seriously hope I never find bee hives in my attic. I will have to move!! (Very irrational fear of bees) Glad you didn’t encounter any :)

    • Rebecca Lynn says:

      Me too! There was an initial moment of panic right after I found the hive, but when nothing flew out at me, I felt pretty comfortable with removing it (as long as I kept a bag or some sort of barrier between me and the hive!)

  3. Wendy says:

    Ick! Glad you figured it out. :p

    • Rebecca Lynn says:

      Not icky, fun! If there had been bees in it, then it would’ve been icky and scary and I probably would never go back up in the attic again! But I rather enjoyed climbing around out there, so I’m glad this was a relatively obvious fix!

  4. Matt says:

    Wendy and I have been thinking of you while watching All American Handyman.

    • Rebecca Lynn says:

      haha! AWESOME!! There are so many more skills I need to acquire before I’m at that level, but I’ve learned so much over this past year alone- I can’t wait to tackle some bigger projects!

  5. Toby says:

    Rebecca, Just so you know – that’s a wasp nest, not a bee hive. Big difference that a surprising number of people don’t realize. If that were full of wasps they would have been mighty mad at you for disturbing them . . . .

    • Rebecca Lynn says:

      Yeah, I know I tend to use bees, hornets and wasps interchangably- the dead one in the fan grill wasn’t puffy like a bee, nor did the nest look like a bee’s, but I didn’t know if it was a wasp or hornet… thanks for the clarification!!

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