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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Our Old House - Making a Whole House Attic Fan

Whew.... it's hot!  I know that is the story all over the country.  Us folks in Wisconsin are not accustomed to this heat nor the humidity.  No thank you, you can have it in the South.

As for us, we are lucky to have central air conditioning in our 2 story 102 year old home.  But like all two story homes, the main floor stays nice and cool but the cold air really doesn't reach the upper floors as well.  The ductwork goes up that far, but does't blast good cool air into the upstairs rooms.  By bedtime, it's usually quite hot up there even if the main floor is a comfy 70 degrees.  Since the thermostat is on the main floor, it doesn't call for any more coolness throughout the night. That leaves the bedrooms rather warm in the 80 degree range.  With this type of weather we don't open the windows when it's so hot and humid even at night.

We tried to solve the problem by adding a small window air conditioner in the bedroom walk-in closet.  It blows into the master bedroom, but we have to keep the door closed out to the hallway just to keep our room cool. That works for our room, but not the rest of the second floor.

If I want to sew in my sewing room, it's quite hot even during the day. That is not acceptable to be leaning over a hot sewing machine with and extra full spectrum light aiming down on the work too.

If we have company, the guest room, which faces south, is too hot as well.  It shares a register with the bathroom and if you open one all the way the other side of the register is closed.

All in all, often our upstairs can be 10-15 degrees hotter than the downstairs.  Not good.  With my lung damage problems, it's tough to handle the humidity as well as the heat.  So central air is appreciated and comfortable on the main level but we don't want to sleep on the livingroom floor either.  LOL

Well.... one day I saw a PBS episode of This Old House.  They were installing a permanent whole house attic fan and cutting a hole between the ceiling rafters and putting in this really expensive whole house fan unit that ran $600-800 and used a remote control.  Cool!   It sucks the air from down below upwards into the attic and increases the amount of cool air reaching the second floor.  I like that idea, but not the price.

Sooooo Googled and I found this idea on YouTube! 

Wow... that made sense! 
We want to suck up the cool air from the main floor 
and the basement 
and help move it upwards.  
Without cold air returns on the upper floor, 
this hasn't been possible before.

We measured up our existing attic scuttle hole, which happens to be in the middle of our upstairs main hallway. A perfect location for this device----  and we can remove it in the winter months and put the original insulated wooden attic cover back in place.

We found a super duper fan that moves a lot of air ... and best of all it has a remote control!  So we don't have to have a cord hanging down or wire in a switch to the wall.  $39.99 at Walmart.  $10 less if you want the one without a remote. 

Steve cut a circle shape out of a square board. 
We removed part of the fan housing to get it to fit in our scuttle hole.
We have an outlet to plug it into up in the attic.
He set it right down into place in the opening and it works great! 

We just aim the remote upwards and voila--- 
instant air movement!  
What a great idea....

The cool air now comes upstairs, and moves down the hall, into all of the bedrooms, the sewing room, and the bathroom.  In our attic we have ridge vents, and three gable end vents to move the air out.

Keep in mind, this is not running all of the time. This is only for those few days or weeks (like now) during the hot humid streak we are having.  Otherwise, we can manage fine the rest of the season with open windows and fresh air.

Since we installed it, we are now comfy and it's been easier to sleep or sew or even wash up in the bathroom without getting heat stroke!


  1. Replies
    1. I like our team work where I come up with the ideas, but Steve is the go-to guy to grab the tools cut the board and mount it in place.

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  2. Glad that worked for you. BTW, why is it that you wives always come up with the ideas that put us husbands to work?

  3. More years ago than I care to remember my dad did this, we lived on the second floor so we had the opening to the attic in the hallway. So he stuck a fan in there and walla sucked all that hot air into the attic and out the vents.

  4. What an innovative and inexpensive way to solve your problem. It never hurts to check to see if others experience the same problem that you do, online. Most times somebody has tried something and a lot of times what they tried, or tried and failed, can save you big bucks! Kudos to you, Karen for finding the information, and Kudos to Steve, for making it all happen! Now you can have cooler nights and good sleeping!


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