• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva explains how to keep your attic cool with a fan activated by the sun.


    1 In attic, mark location of solar-powered vent between two roof rafters.
    2 Drive nail through center of vent location.
    3 Install roof brackets and fall-arrest system to roof.
    4 Scribe outline of vent’s flashing on roof using homemade dowel compass.
    5 Cut shingles along circular outline with a utility knife.
    6 Pull nails and remove shingles from within the circle.
    7 Use compass to scribe hole for vent onto roof sheathing.
    8 Cut hole in roof with a reciprocating saw.
    9 Remove shingles from around the vent opening.
    10 Apply continuous bead of tri-polymer roofing cement around hole.
    11 Set roof vent over hole, then screw the fan’s flashing to roof.
    12 Apply more caulking around flashing.
    13 Replace all the roof shingles around the vent fan with 1 ½-inch roofing nails.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      The only really difficult part is climbing onto the roof.

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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • hammer
      • flat prybar
        Flat pry bar,
        used to remove roof shingles
      • utility knife
        Utility knife,
        used to cut roof shingles
      • reciprocating saw
        Reciprocating saw,
        used to cut hole in roof
      • drill
      • caulk gun
        Caulking gun
        with tri-polymer roofing cement

      Shopping List

      1. Solar-powered roof vent

      2. Hardwood dowel and 1 5/8-inch decking screws,
      for making a compass for marking the vent hole on roof

      3. Roof brackets and planks,
      used to provide secure place to stand on roof

      4. Fall-arrest system, used to prevent falls from roof

      5. 1 ½-inch roofing nails, for nailing down roof shingles