With Grading Done, I’m Preparing for a Hot Summer with a New Attic Fan

One afternoon. One attic fan installed.
One afternoon. One attic fan installed.

I am trying to get a jump on a hot-hot summer, because last summer was a scorcher. While there are a lot of things that I would like to do to our house, some things are more affordable than others. My attic fan installation project today was one that had potential to help out without costing too much.

Last year, Y and I sealed up every seam and joint that we could find inside the house, and we cut R-Matte Plus-3 insulating boards–covering the edges with metal tape–to cover the south and west facing windows (the east windows get a good amount of shade from trees across the street).

This year, I kicked off our preparations by installing an attic fan. I had thought about installing one a long time ago before graduate school, but I never got around to it. I had experimented with an industrial fan pointed at the gable, but the blown air couldn’t adequately escape.

I picked up a Master Flow 1600 cfm attic fan with thermostat, wire, and wing nuts from Home Depot. To cover the gable opening and mount the fan, I pulled up old 1″ x 4″ boards from the attic floor and cut them to the needed sizes (these are old boards left over from shelving the previous owners had built–I disassembled them years ago and used them for flooring). I began by framing the opening for the fan. Then, I installed the fan in the frame before filling in the rest of the gable’s triangular opening with shorter boards (everything was put together with Deckmate screws). I wired the fan into an existing circuit and set the thermostat to 70 degrees. It ran a couple of hours and shut off automatically this evening. Now, the attic is cooler than the upstairs rooms. I am hopeful that tomorrow, the fan will help the upstairs area remain cooler (it isn’t a whole house fan so it won’t suck air through open downstairs windows and fill the house–another option that I considered but decided against due to high humidity later in the summer–which can make it feel warmer than it is and can support book lice).

Besides caulking windows and openings and installing the attic fan, we use fans to wick away moisture and cool us naturally. Outside the house, we’ve removed most bushes that were adjacent to the house and blocking the crawlspace vents. Unfortunately, we have a long house facing north to south (the south side is where I installed the attic fan–the north side is bricked up with no gable opening), but there is no space between our house and our neighbor’s house to the south to plant shade trees (a tremendously good investment for natural cooling).

Soon, we will reinstall a window air conditioning unit upstairs to lower the temperature upstairs. What tips do you have for cooling a house without increasing humidity? Please leave your thoughts in the comments to share with others.