Attic Fans … what are they really used for and why they are important!
Keeping your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter can be expensive. Add in the cost of regular maintenance to your heating and air systems and it’s no wonder that many homeowners look for other ways to keep things cool. One increasingly popular option is the attic exhaust fan. These fans help you to circulate air through the attic eliminating the buildup of heat that attics often experience which can make your whole house seem hotter.
How do these fans work, though? Do they really save you money? Perhaps most importantly, how can you get an attic fan of your own to get rid of all of that heat your house is holding? Let’s take a look at these questions and see if an attic fan is right for you.
What Is an Attic Exhaust Fan?
As the name suggests, an attic exhaust fan is an electric fan that blows the hot air inside the attic out into the great outdoors. While many of these fans are wired into the electrical system of the house, some are solar powered so that they don’t add to your electrical usage. As the fans blow hot air out of the attic, cooler air from outside is pulled in from vents to keep the overall attic temperature lower. This air cycling also helps prevent mold and mildew that can result from moist air becoming trapped in the attic – something that’s useful both during the summer and in other parts of the year as well.
How Do Attic Fans Work?
Many attic fans are connected to a thermostat, allowing them to turn on and off when the temperature in the attic passes a set temperature. Unless the fan is installed under an eave, the outer portion of the fan generally has vent panels that open and close automatically as well based on airflow through the fan body. This allows the fan to blow without hinderance while ensuring that the fan is covered to prevent rain and pests from getting into the attic.
Another important part of the attic fan system is the series vents that allow air from outside to enter the attic. These vents are installed in the soffit and gable around your roof, allowing air to flow through the vents and into the attic space when the fan is active. Since the attic builds up heat, the air outside is typically much cooler than the air in the attic, even during the summer. This cycling of air lets cooler outdoor air enter the attic, keeping the attic space at a much more respectable temperature, so it won’t heat up the ceilings and other air in the house.
Installing Your Own Fan
Installing an attic exhaust fan is often seen as a DIY job, with homeowners making the appropriate cuts and installing the various components themselves. Since you’ll need to cut through portions of the wall or roof to install the fan, it’s definitely a project that you’ll want to double-check all of your measurements on before you dive into the work. Ensure that you schedule the job for a day when there isn’t any rain or temperature extremes in the forecast and follow all installation instructions exactly to prevent leaks or other damage.
Once your fan is installed, it’s important to check your insulation and try to locate any air leaks from within the main house itself. A well-insulated attic gives you a greater amount of temperature control, though you’ll want to make sure that you didn’t accidentally cover up your intake vents or else air won’t be able to flow from outside. Likewise, track down any cold air leaks from within the house to prevent the fan from pulling air-conditioned air up into the attic; if you don’t prevent this, your AC unit will have to work even harder as it cools more air to replace what’s being drawn up into the attic space.