Big Mistake Number One:
Heading down to to the local hardware store and purchasing a house fan without doing the proper research first is one of the biggest mistakes a home owner can make when installing one. If you assume that you have the right size fan, the best manufacturer, or all of the information you need in order to install the whole house fan yourself, chances are you will have to call someone to correct your do-it-yourself mistakes.
Solution Number One:
Hire a electrical contractor who has a good reputation for installing whole house fans. Even though the project can be relatively small, there is a lot more to it than just cutting a hole in your ceiling and turning it on. A good qualified electrician will know: What size fan to use, whether or not you have adequate attic ventilation, where to place the fan opening, and when is the best time to use the fan to maximize its benefit.
Problem Number Two:
Installing the fan without the proper tools, right insulation, and proper placement of the main intake vent is a big mistake.
Solution Number Two:
A electric services company will always recommend a fan that comes with built in insulation. When it is cold, it is important that the fan, the fan housing, the vent opening, and the attic vents have the right insulation so that you are not losing money by escaping warming air. Also, a good licensed electrician will know that the whole house fan needs to be installed in a place that permits maximum airflow starting at the windows and into the attic.
Mistake Number Three:
Purchasing the most inexpensive attic fan from a website is definitely a really big mistake. These units are a cheap investment when compared to HVAC. The less expensive models are not insulated, have generic fan assemblies, and are very loud. The last thing you need is to hear what sounds like a rocket taking off inside your house, or a squeaky fan assembly each time the house fan is switched on.
Solution Number Three:
Go ahead and get a quality attic fan that has good reviews and low maintenance. A quick search on several consumer goods review sites will steer you in the right direction. Also, consult with your electrical contractor. They might carry a certain brand of whole house attic fan that they trust and that has a great reputation for being a quality product. Definitely do not go with a brand that has no history of past performance or good reviews by lots of people.
Mistake Number Four: (And this one is a big one)
Having an attic fan installed that is too large for the home is one of the biggest mistakes a home owner can make. If there is not proper attic ventilation, a house fan that is too large can draw all of the hot air up from the interior space and into the attic, and then push that hot air back down into the home through the ceiling lights, electrical outlets, HVAC vents, small cracks, wall switches. In fact, a fan that is too large for the house may make it hotter, not cooler.
Solution Number Four:
Before installing a house fan, consult with a electrical contractor and chose the model that is right for the house. If you don't have enough attic ventilation, there are some simple steps that may be to provide that ventilation. A ridge vent, gable vent, soffit vent, and whirly gig are all worthwhile options for attic ventilation. A good electric services company will also work with a licensed builder who can usually add the correct attic ventilation in a about a day if there is not any in place.
Usually, a smaller whole house fan will cool a dwelling with less wasted energy than a larger fan, which is more often than not overkill. The goal with a whole house fan is balanced air flow. With constant movement of air throughout the house, it will stay cooler with less energy needed. Also, a smaller whole house fan means less installation work, which is always a bonus.
Mistake Number Five:
Using the whole house attic fan with the windows closed can cause a potentially hazardous. The whole house attic fan functions by drawing cooler air in from the exterior of the house through the open windows and pushing the warm air up into the attic where it leaves the home through the attic vents. If you close the windows, there is a great chance that air will be pulled from the diverter that is on top of the water heater or boiler. What this means is that poisonous carbon monoxide can be pushed into the living space, creating a potentially fatal situation.
Solution Number Five:
Make sure to open the windows before turning on the whole house fan! The whole house attic fan is not there to re-circulate bad stale air throughout the dwelling. Its primary function is to remove hot air from the home, and provide a less expensive, environment friendly cooling solution than HVAC. In fact, a properly installed whole house fan can cool an averaged sized house for a tenth of the cost of air conditioning.
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