Replacing Bathroom Ceiling Fan/light on bottom floor

Folks, It was easy for me to replace the ceiling fan/light in the upstairs bathroom as I could attack if from the attic, where everything was right there and open for me. I now would like to do the same with the ceiling fan/light in the downstairs bathroom (1st floor), but my problem is that I don't have the handy attic to get at it from. I took off the cover from the existing light/fan, and I see the box, which is about the same size as the hole cut in the wallboard ceiling. I just do not see how I can get the box out without ripping apart the ceiling. I would really like to be able to do this without messing with the ceiling wall if I can.
What to do? Has anyone done this and what was your strategy? Thanks for any help here, Tomes
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It largely depends upon the height of the ceiling beams and the height of the fan. If you have 2x10 beams, and the fan is no more than 10 inches high, you can remove the existing unit by beating it toward it's center, then dropping it straight down. Make sure the new fan is the same size or slightly larger, and square or rectangle, and has the ability to be screwed through the interior side wall of the unit into the ceiling beam to secure it. Cut the opening so the unit can pass straight up into the ceiling,(without the duct connector piece attached) Connect the wiring to the unit and push it into the ceiling and slide it to one side so you can attach the duct adapter, then attach the duct, then position the unit flush with the ceiling finish and screw it to the beam. One more thing, its important to install the side of the unit opposite the duct adapter flush against the ceiling beam

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I have found that the Panasonic fans are good for retrofits. In some cases it is possible to install a new Panasonic without damaging the ceiling to the extent that it needs patching. One of the difficult tasks with retrofits is trying to connect the duct and then install the fan. The duct connection on the Panasonic fans is a separate piece that can be connected to the fan housing from inside of the housing. Of course you will need to use flex duct.
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I had the same problem, and there was just no way around it. I ended up with a 9"x9" hole, which I patched by putting in two narrow boards between the studs and screwing a piece of drywall to each board. Some tape, compound, and sanding, and it looks perfect. Pain in the ass, but not difficult.
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<h> ...

Thanks to the three of you folks so far. My first problem is how to get the old box out. The ceiling is cut so it will slip down through the hole OK, and if I mess up the ceiling a little bit around the edges it is OK as the new fixture covers up more ceiling than the old one, I just need a strategy on removing that box from the beams. Maybe grind off the nail heads? Anyone tried that?
The thought on sliding the new box in there sideways to re-attach the existing duct is the strategy I plan to use for that, thanks. Cheers, Tomes
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"Tomes" ...

OK folks, I thought that I would close this story as I finished the job today and it turned out to be easy once I knew the trick. Maybe someone else can use this experience. I replaced the old box with the new box and the ceiling never knew anything happened.
Getting the old box out entailed using a hacksaw that had a pistol grip (something I picked up in a garage sale long ago and finally had the perfect use for). It enabled that thin blade to get up between the box and the wall that it was nailed onto. I sawed off the 4 nails which were on the tabs outside of the box (and unapproachable any other way) that way. Box got loose.
Then just moving it around up there was all it took to remove the duct and the wires. Then it angled out of the hole. Installing the new box was then easy enough, as it too angled up into the hole with no new cutting required. It came with holes in the sidewall of the box so a couple of screws through those holes is now holding it in place really well.
Light looks good up there now, brighter and the fan sucks better too. The ceiling is unmolested. All is well in that part of the world. Tomes
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