attic fan
Home Repair

Man, it is HOT in here! Is it me or the attic fan?

I may be at that “age” where I have my own personal Bikram moments, but lately it’s been HOT HOT HOT in our upstairs. Since I had a task for the hubs to do this week during a heatwave we were having, I picked the HOTTEST day for him to climb up into the attic (yes, no “wife of the year” prize for me)…even though timing wasn’t good, it actually was. Turns out our attic fan motor had burned out after just 3 years since last replacing the housing and the motor. NOW I know one of the contributing factors to being so HOT HOT HOT.

Here are some interesting facts on attic fans. First of all, be sure that the eaves in your attic (that area of overhang below your gutters) is NOT covered over with insulation. The reason is simple: the venting in the eaves is to allow air to flow into the attic and then get pulled through the attic when the attic fan is running. Secondly, your fan should be running on hot days – or else it has seized up and isn’t doing you or your electric bill any good. Attic fans are different from whole house fans. Whole house fans have a large vent located in the ceiling, and on the top floor if you have more than one story. These are hooked up to their own switch in order to be manually turned on/off. An attic fan kicks on automatically when the temperature reaches a certain temperature. A whole house fan requires you to open windows in order for the fan motor to pull the air through the windows and the house up, and out through the attic. CAUTION: if you have gas for heat, water or cooking, BE SURE TO OPEN WINDOWS, else the fan will suck air RIGHT THROUGH THE GAS LINES and that is very dangerous!!!

Replacing the motor of an attic fan is a 30 minute job at the most by any electrician or if you do it yourself. I am not a fan of crawling up and around attics so I did hire out for this job to be done. A typical attic fan is sold with the housing so even if you only need the motor, you will always get the housing unit (I’m talking about from Home Depot). Cost is around $85 for the fan.

In closing, a working attic fan can make a huge difference in keeping the upper level, or if you have a one level home, balanced in temperature. If you haven’t checked lately, stick your head up into the attic on the hottest part of the day and if you don’t see it running or hear it running, it’s time to get it replaced.

It’s nice to be cool again 🙂


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