• This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shows a quick and clever way to keep a home cool


    1. From inside the attic, take up any plywood floor covering the desired fan location.
    2. Lift out the insulation from between the ceiling joists.
    3. Cut two pieces of 2x10 to fit snugly between the ceiling joists. Set the blocks slightly farther apart than the length of the whole-house fan. Nail the blocking in place with 16d nails.
    4. Replace the plywood floor, fastening it to the joists with 1 5/8-inch drywall screws.
    5. Use a plunge router fitted with flush-cutting bit and guide bushing to cut out the plywood floor.
    6. Cut through the ceiling with a reciprocating saw, making sure someone stands below with a wet/dry vacuum to catch the dust.
    7. Fill the gap between the ceiling hole and attic insulation with spray-foam insulation. After the foam hardens, trim away the excess with a utility knife.
    8. Apply self-stick weatherstripping around the underside of the flange on the whole-house fan.
    9. Set the fan down into the hole, pressing it tight against the plywood attic floor.
    10. Secure the fan by driving 1 5/8-inch screws through its flange and into plywood floor.
    11. Attach the fan's grille from below.
    12. Plug the fan into a nearby outlet; if necessary, hire a licensed electrician to install an outlet close to the fan.
    13. Open the downstairs windows and any attic windows.
    14. Use the remote control to turn on the fan.

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    • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
      working in an attic can be difficult, but the installation itself is easy

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      Video Directory

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      Tools List

      • hammer
        Hammer, for installing 2x10 blocking
      • circular saw
        Circular saw, used to cut blocking
      • speed square
        Speed Square, for squaring up blocking with joists
      • plunge router
        Plunge router fitted with flush-cutting bit and guide bushing, used to cut the fan hole in the attic floor
      • drill
      • reciprocating saw
        Reciprocating saw, for cutting hole in ceiling
      • wetdry vac
        Wet/dry vacuum, used to catch the dust when cutting the ceiling hole
      • utility knife
        Utility knife

      Shopping List

      1. Whole-house fan, used to exhaust hot air from home

      2. 2x10 blocking, for nailing between ceiling joists3. 16d nails, for attaching blocking

      4. 1 5/8-inch drywall screws, for fastening plywood attic floor

      5. Spray-foam insulation, used to seal hole in ceiling