Attic Fans 101

If you live in an Alabama or Mississippi home with an attic fan, you may be unsure how it works with your air conditioning system. For example, you might wonder if it is good or bad to use it, if it will run up your electric bill or if it will take some of the load off your air conditioning and save money. You might also wonder if you should upgrade or seek out a larger attic fan. These are all legitimate questions and the answers are worthy of exploring. So let’s get started with everything you need to know about attic fans. Here is a small glossary of terms. As you can imagine, the term attic fan is a catch-all referring to many types of units. The most commonly found types of attic fans include:

  • Whole-house Fans – An attic-mounted fan designed to release air from a home at night — in order to cool a house (to lower the indoor temperature).
  • Powered Attic Ventilator – Designed to lower the temperature of an attic by exhausting air from the attic and replacing attic air with outdoor air.
  • Solar Attic Fan – Using solar panels, the sun powers this type of attic fan, alleviating reliance on gas or electricity.
  • Wind-Powered Fan – As the name suggests, a wind-powered model which relies on the natural energy of the wind for operation.

What function do attic fans perform? The most common type of attic fan, ventilation fans or powered attic ventilators, are utilized to cool the attic. By pushing out hot attic air and rushing in a flow of cool outside air, they can be effective in cooling off the attic area. They are typically used in houses with a slope of the roof or in the gable wall of the attic. The whole house attic fan is actually an exhaust system used to vent a building’s attic and circulate air in a home or building. In addition, attic fans prevent the buildup of condensation or in extreme cases, ice dams, during winter months. What is the best way to maintain attic fans? The good news about most attic fans is they are easy to use as long as they’re installed properly, and there’s easy access to the operating switch or dial. Typically an attic fan requires minimal maintenance. For example, the ports helping the motor run in the whole-house attic fan, should be lubricated only every few years. An attic exhaust fan, designed to cool the attic space only, almost never requires maintenance. If the fan has shutters which open to release, washing the fan blades will ensure the fan works properly. What size fan do I need? Call an air conditioning professional to help here. A NATE-certified technician has the skills to accurately measure, recommend and install an attic fan or replace one to assist your air conditioning efforts. At your consultation, the technician will determine the square footage of your attic space and multiply it by .07 to get the minimum number of cubic feet of air per minute the fan should be rated to move. He or she may add an additional 15% if you have a dark roof and an additional 20% for a steep roof. An average attic fan is typically appropriate for attics as much as 2,200 square feet. Air Specialty has expertise in all aspects of heating and cooling. For over 25 years, we have offered the very best in HVAC services to Mobile and its surrounding communities. If you have an attic fan and need help or have questions, we’re here for you. We can check out your HVAC system as well as your attic fan unit to ensure everything is working well together, at its most energy-efficient levels. Our technician team is NATE-certified and dedicated to professionalism. Contact Air Specialty today for an attic fan assessment today.

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