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Send Some Love to the Attic Fan (Importance of Repair/Maintenance)

on February 9, 2018

Vexed lovers and once-spurned sweethearts may scoff at Valentine’s day, but to us, it’s a day that’s all about giving credit where it’s due. The government-backed energy efficiency group, Energy Star, calls attic fans “the key to a durable and energy-efficient home.” If properly installed and utilized, attic fans and other types of attic ventilation can play a major role in reducing energy bills and cooling our homes, especially considering the climate of the greater-Post Falls area. So what, exactly, do attic fans do, how do they work and how should they be used?

The term “attic fan” is sometimes used interchangeably to describe various types of roof, attic or ceiling ventilation systems. In the broadest sense, we’ll look at two categories of ventilation: attic-specific and whole-house units.

Your Biggest Fan

For whole-house systems, an electric fan is located in the ceiling of the house. This type of fan pulls air into the living quarters of the home by blowing into a vented attic space. These systems are designed for strategic use in climates similar to our spring and summer.

In the evening, when the temperature drops into a tolerable range, you flip the A/C off, open the windows and let the fan draw in cool outside air. An oft-overlooked aspect of these systems is sturdy window screens. Since the system results in a vacuum inside the house it places some stress on the screen and sucks bugs into the home.

Call Me the Breeze

Attic-specific systems are designed to circulate air only in the attic. You’ve probably seen the round turbine fans whirling up near the top of the roof. Smaller powered fan units are sometimes used instead of turbines. These devices are designed to cool the attic temperature in the summer. As hot air vents near the roof’s peak, it is displaced by cooler outside air drawn in through vents along the roof’s overhang.

In summer, the sun’s heat is trapped in the attic. Of course, this additional heat is counterproductive for your A/C, which must work overtime to offset it while trying to maintain tolerable temperatures in the house.

Take-Home

As is the case with most systems involved in the heating and ventilation of your home, proper installation and upkeep make all the difference.

Because attic-specific systems create a vacuum inside the attic, their efficiency can be undone by air leaks between the living quarters and the attic. Small leaks are magnified because of the vacuum, which results in conditioned air being sucked into the attic and circulated outside.

Whole-house fans on the other hand, displace much larger volumes of air, requiring large vents in the attic and a break in the usual ceiling-to-attic barrier we try to create with insulation. If not properly sealed in the winter, these spaces can hurt energy efficiency by leaking warm air where it’s not wanted.

In addition to its role in regulating the temperature of the attic, an attic fan also helps regulate moisture in the attic (and thus the rest of the house). If you’re considering installing ventilation in your roof, it’s a good idea to have a certified technician help you decide what is best suited to your needs and the layout of your home. Call the experts at Mainstream Electric, Heating, Cooling & Plumbing at 866-411-9277 for an assessment today!