Round the home: Attic fan can cool home | Residence & Backyard
Dear Ken: We have a 2,500 square foot house and we want to add an attic fan. What should we pay attention to and what should we know? – Tim
Reply: This is a wonderful system for our region. The thin air here cools down very quickly after the sun goes down. An attic fan draws large drops of it through open windows and doors into the living room and pushes them out through the attic. Not only does this cool the house, but it also drives the hot air of the day out of the attic and recharges it with cooler air – which can lower the temperature in your bedrooms.
There are two basic styles of these whole house fans: direct drive and belt drive. The latter design sets the motor to one side so it’s a bit quieter than the direct drive scheme, where the motor sits right on top of the fan blades. Choose a model that has a labeled CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute Air Flow) that can accommodate a house your size.
Also, you need to check your roof vents. If there are not enough openings to the outside, the fan will work and work less efficiently. Review the installation instructions to determine the requirements for your particular fan. Don’t just rely on the tiny reveal openings that sit under the eaves – half the time they’re blocked anyway. You may need to add a few extra turbine or gable vents to provide enough discharge points for the evacuated air.
The electrical requirements for an entire home fan are a bit daunting. Fan manufacturers usually insist on a special circuit that is pretty hard to find in most attics. So choose an installer with electrical expertise and the right credentials.
There is a subtle danger associated with these fans. You can sometimes draw fumes into the living space of your home through your gas water heater if they run long enough. This is a pretty rare phenomenon, but you can avoid it altogether by installing a one-hour timer on the fan instead of a normal on / off switch. If you fall asleep while it’s running, it will turn off. Also, the maximum cooling benefit for both the house and the attic of your entire house fan typically comes in around 20 minutes. Long-term operation simply wastes electricity.
Dear Ken: The space between the panes of some of my windows is fogged up. How can we fix the problem? – Alan
Reply: Unfortunately, there is no reliable way to fix them. When your insulated windows were built, the manufacturer probably injected some super dry air between the panes. Our high altitude sun breaks open the seals around the glass, letting in ambient moisture, which then condenses. The good news is that it will essentially not affect the energy efficiency of the device, but the bad news is that it will need to be replaced. If it is the moving part of your window, you can save money by bringing it to the store yourself. Here’s a workaround: a friend of mine put gray window-tint film on a misty window pane and the condensation has practically gone.
Dear Ken: One of my toilets overflows and runs all the time. Can i do this alone? – Sally
Reply: Why not replace it instead of trying to tweak and adjust aging and stuck floats and valves? There are different systems for rehab your toilet. The ones i like (and by the way preferred by landlords who have neither time nor money to waste)is the FluidMaster system. For around $ 15, you can swap out both the flap and fill valves. There are adapters and fittings for virtually every brand and fixture configuration, and no special tools are required.
Dear readers: This week I became aware of security concerns. The steel cover of your breaker bay is an essential part of the electrical system. It’s more than just a protective shield to avoid shock – it’s there to hold the breakers firmly against the main bus. This is the aluminum rod that distributes the electricity from the energy supplier in the box. If your cover is missing screws or not tight enough, there is a risk of overheating and possible arcing fire in the box.
This precaution is especially important if your panel is a Federal Pacific (FPE) model. This is an older system, popular in the 50s and 60s, their breakers can be problematic. If your model is an FPE model, make sure that none of the breakers are loose and that the cover is particularly tight. If you have any concerns about the system, contact an electrician. Check cpsc.gov for more information on this now outdated system. Eventually, these older panels should be replaced or remodeled.
Moon is a house inspector in the Pikes Peak area. Visit aroundthehouse.com.