14 posts / 0 new
Last post
dandolf
WHole house fans

I'm seeking advice on advisability of installing a whole house fan in the attic (finished) of my three story Victorian in Mass.. Few comments I've heard relate to how great a help they can be in cooling , but not sure of downside, outside of noise.

jyssilly
Re: WHole house fans

We had one in our house in MA growing up - it was great. It just sucked air through all the open windows and created nice cross-breezes. It was kind of loud, but nothing worse than an A/C would be.

I'm looking to install one in the house we live in now so if there are any tips/instructions/info on putting one in yourself, I'd love to hear advice also!

ed21
Re: WHole house fans

Fans will come with instructions. You'll need power & a switch, most likely cut & header off rafter.
Probably the most important thing is to have adequate exhaust from the attic.
Not that difficult an installation, but it will take a while to do.
Mine can be a bit noisy on high, but mine works well on low speed. The only down side is my fan will sometimes suck in little gnats attracted to lights where the suction is greatest. I also cover the fan with an insulated enclosure in the attic in the winter.

jyssilly
Re: Whole house fans

Oh, and does anyone have recommendations as to brands?

applianceman
Re: WHole house fans

Be very careful about using "whole house ventilators" that typically mount in the uppermost ceiling of a home and blow into the attic. These are high capacity fans that if the home is not set up correctly, meaning all the windows are open, it can cause backdrafting down the flue of naturally vented appliances. This means that carbon monoxide is drawn back into the home.

You would be much better off putting a quiet medium capacity fan to remove hot air that builds up on the ceilings in the home. See: http://www.rinutonedistr.com/High%20CFM%20units.htm

Then install standard ceiling fans to move the air and create evaporative cooling on the skin from the moving across it.

Re: WHole house fans
applianceman wrote:

Be very careful about using "whole house ventilators" that typically mount in the uppermost ceiling of a home and blow into the attic. These are high capacity fans that if the home is not set up correctly, meaning all the windows are open, it can cause backdrafting down the flue of naturally vented appliances. This means that carbon monoxide is drawn back into the home.

You would be much better off putting a quiet medium capacity fan to remove hot air that builds up on the ceilings in the home. See: http://www.rinutonedistr.com/High%20CFM%20units.htm

Then install standard ceiling fans to move the air and create evaporative cooling on the skin from the moving across it.

Good call Appliance man that could happen:eek:

littleboutlot
Re: WHole house fans

Instructions do say to cut rafters. OK to center on a truss and box in as I can't cut a truss?

judyrg
Re: WHole house fans

We live in the Central Valley of CA where it can get quite hot in the summer. When we remodeled our house a couple of years ago, we installed a whole house fan, because every one said that they were good to have, and we got a rebate from the local electric company. It was my understanding that the idea of a whole house fan was to suck the heat out of the house, such as when we came home after being gone all day. Well, we have seldom used our whole house fan. First of all, there is hardly anytime when there isn't someone at home so we would never turn off the AC. The only time we would turn off the AC is when we go away for several days. Even when we do leave during the day we don't turn the AC off completely. During the day we set the thermostat at 78. I think the house is insulated and shaded fairly well, that the house rarely gets "hot". Am I misunderstanding how to use the whole house fan?

A. Spruce
Re: WHole house fans
judyrg wrote:

Am I misunderstanding how to use the whole house fan?

Whole house fans are an air circulator, of sorts. They are used in the evening and early morning when the outside temps are lower than house temps. Doors and windows are opened when the fan is in use to draw the cooler air into the house and exhaust hot attic air out. In the central valley, without significant delta breezes to knock the heat down in the evening, it isn't likely you'd use it much. You'll primarily use it in the late spring and late fall when it's no longer hot enough to require AC, but still a bit too warm to go without some cooler ventilation. Also, with all the fires going in California right now, the air quality is so bad you don't want to open up your house anyway.

Re: WHole house fans

Whole house fans to bring back memories, i.e. pre-central air conditioning, polution, indoor air quality, etc.

If allergies are not an issue, then a whole house fan can create a pleasant environment and as has been pointed out earlier in this post, make sure there is adequate ventilation. The average person is not in a position to determine what the 'adequate ventilation' is, and as a result, may create an unsafe environment due to the creation of negative pressure in the house.

Because these fans discharge the air into the attic space, there has to be some thought given to the ability for the air to escape the attic space. I have seem these fans (or similar ones) used where there is a dedicated discharge to a louver located on an outside wall of the attic (dormer, etc.). Of course with a hip roof system this would not be possible. If there is a gable however, I believe it could be achieved. In this manner, you don't have to worry about the air that is 'pumped' into the attic via the fan.

I for one, enjoy the fresh air from the outdoors, but have become spoiled with central air conditioning. As long as there is not a high-humidity situation where you pull the humid air into the home, the results should be pleasing.

I would strongly suggest having a professional come out and provide you with an evaluation that would include any structural changes that need to be made as well as what your electrical requirements would be. I am not saying this is not something you are capable of doing yourself, but that is not necessarily a reason not to have a professional provide you with the installation.

All the best, Irishmist

judyrg
Re: WHole house fans

Thank you for your response. Very helpful.

Pages

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.