Building Codes and Inspections/Bath Exhaust Fan

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Question
We are selling our home to a relocation company.  We had it inspected when we bought it seven years ago and no issues were sited with the exhaust fan that is installed in our windowless bathroom.  It is installed up on the wall near the ceiling and vents directly through an outside wall.  The inspector from the relocation company is telling us we have to remove it, re-install it on the ceiling, route the vent back out the wall, and then patch up the hole in the wall it was taken out of.  Stated it was not made to be in a "wet environment".    It is on the wall near the ceiling above and outside of the footprint of the bathtub/shower surround so I would not consider it a wet environment.  Is moving it a couple of inches upwards really going to make a difference here?

Answer
If there is in fact a shock hazard, I would replace the unit with a newer, safer unit in the same location, or add GFCI and arc fault circuit breaker protection to the circuit as is done in new homes. This would also be a good solution if the unit was installed illegally by a previous owner. I would probably do this anyway for additional protection even if the house was not sold.

I think it would be silly to do what the inspector said and create a hole which has to be patched inside and outside. That won't help the relocation company resell the house.

With an existing building built legally, the condition can usually remain unless a permit is taken out for renovations to prompt an upgrade to the newer code requirements if a change was made over the years.

In my state, a private inspector can't do code inspections because they are not certified or employed by the municipality. They just reflect the condition to potential buyers and educate them on life spans of the building's elements. There's no mandate to do anything a private home inspector says, as far as I know.  You can always let the relocation company fix it if they want it fixed.  

Building Codes and Inspections

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Keith Fuller

Expertise

I'm an ICC Certified Master Code Professional fielding general building code questions. My experience has been heavy in fire related issues.

Experience

I've been employed since 1985 as an inspector and plan reviewer, and am a municipal Assistant Building Official and Deputy fire Marshal. I've had fire service experience since 1972, having served as a three time Fire Chief and Fire Marshal in years past. The increasing workload, mandatory certifications, and continuing education requirements in recent years have caused me to concentrate my efforts on code related issues. I hold national fire service certifications as well.

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ICC Master Code Professional

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