Want to know all the attic fans pros and cons? They can be a useful thing for your home, but like everything in this world, they also have their drawbacks. So, in our article, you will learn the following things:
The attic ventilation fans pros and cons:
- What the long life of asphalt shingles has to do with the installation of fans
- What gas problems the presence of fans can bring
- Why does the temperature in an attic drop after a fan is installed?
- How operating costs increase after a fan system is installed
- And how the presence of fans will keep your attic from icing up.
Intrigued? Then let’s not bore you long and get down to business.
What Are Attic Fans?
Attic fans are roof vent fans that eliminate warm air in the attic by sending it outside. They are usually placed on the roofs or gables of homes. What are they placed for?
Their main purpose – to dramatically reduce the temperature in the attic and get rid of the constant accumulation of moisture. Attic fans are connected to the general home network, and can also be powered by solar energy or wind gusts.
Let’s take a look at the specifics of fan construction. Almost all of the fans we install in our attic (except those equipped with a turbine and solar fans) have built-in control, which is done with a thermostat.
You adjust the thermostat yourself, depending on your needs, the attic fan will only turn on when the temperature in the attic exceeds the mark set on the thermostat.
Let’s give you an example. We set the thermostat to the standard setting (ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit), the attic temperature reached that mark, the fan turned on and will run until that mark drops.
The most common type of fan on the fan market is an electrically driven fan. This type of attic fan is built into the overall electrical system of your home. They can be placed on the roof, or attached vertically to the gable wall of your home. An attic fan engages the built-in vent hole to get rid of the warm air in your attic.
Solar Attic Fans Pros And Cons
Do you know solar roof vents’ pros and cons? Attic fans that use solar energy for their operation are powered by it. The solar panel can be built into the device itself, or it can be placed separately and connected to the fan with a special cable.
Solar attic fans are most often not equipped with a thermostat with a regulator and simply run all day when there is no sun in the sky. Solar fans are ideal for homes that get a lot of sunlight.
Attic turbine fans feature wind turbines that propel any gust of wind. Turbines are most often made of metal, and they become a great solution for homes in areas where there are often high winds.
What Are The Main Factors That Affect The Performance Of An Attic Fan?
An attic fan has some pretty good benefits, such as the ability to cool the attic and get rid of excessive humidity, but there are a few benefits that you probably didn’t even know about. But how well the attic fan will work, will depend on a number of factors, in this section, we will list them.
Insulating your attic
Do you think your attic is well insulated? A poorly insulated attic will keep warm air in the attic in the winter, and in the summer it will work like a furnace, letting heat directly into the house. Before you think about buying and placing a fan in your attic, make sure it is insulated, this is a very important thing you need to do.
Does your attic have the right amount of intake air? In order for a fan placed in your attic to work efficiently and not break down, it should have the right amount of passive ventilation nearby, from which it will draw air for its work.
If there is a catastrophic lack of passive ventilation in the attic (and it comes from special holes in the gable, ceiling ventilation and so on), then it will take air from the house, from your conditioned rooms.
Attic: What Is The Ventilation
If we consider that the attic – is a living room, which is arranged in the attic of the house, then the requirements for it should be made accordingly. First, it must be safe. Secondly, it is necessary to mount a few layers of insulation, so you can use the room all year round.
Thirdly, it is necessary to well think through the underlay ventilation of the attic to ensure a comfortable microclimate and good conditions for all occupants of the house. Dusty and stinky air does not fit the requirements for living rooms.
In houses with a large area often in the expanse of the attic space are arranged bathroom, toilet, bedroom.
A ventilation system for the attic is a prerequisite if there is no desire to overpay for the repair of the roof. Moreover, ventilation is required as a result of the repair of the attic, and the roof itself, to ensure a long service life of roofing materials.
Ventilation, used in the attic, can be:
The first option involves the use of natural draught resulting from properly equipped vents and ducts. This is the cheapest option of all. It requires a minimum set of ventilation materials – grills, aerators, soffits, ventilation pipes and other elements.
The natural option is more dependent on weather conditions. As a result, instead of a perfectly functioning ventilation system, you can get condensation and frost in winter.
A forced-air system works through mechanical intervention. It uses fans for inflow and removal, additional equipment to warm the cold outside air.
This is an expensive option for attic ventilation, especially if you buy climate control equipment with rich functionality – temperature sensors, humidity sensors, humidification, ionization, and air heating functions.
With a mechanical method of ventilating the attic space, the main element is a fan.
A mixed type of attic ventilation assumes that the mechanical will be a single process – the inflow or removal of air. Most often the exhaust system is forced, letting the fresh air by gravity.
Video: Attic Fans Pros And Cons and Is It A Good Idea Of Installing an Attic Ventilation Fan?
Watch this video and at the very end of it you’re going to be given away a free guide about the top three asthma triggering allergens that are in your home and what you can do about it.
What Are The Attic Fan Pros?
Installing a roof attic fan has a lot of pros, so we have tried to collect the most important ones for you.
1. Protecting your asphalt roof
We think the biggest, yet not particularly well-known, the benefit of having a vent installed in your attic is that it protects your roof from rapid aging, especially if your roof is asphalt. You may ask, how? We have an answer to this important question.
In many attics, according to experts who inspect such places, either the old insulation, from which there is no use, or it is absent at all, so the air from everywhere gets into the attic. Also most often there are problems with the presence of passive ventilation.
Under the eaves should be special ventilation holes, in fact, in many homes, they simply do not exist, and even if they are, they do not fit the established requirements or even painted over the owners.
In general, it is easy enough to determine the premature aging of your roof, just look at the color of its tiles. Note that the picture above is relatively young roofing, it is not even seven years, but it faded as if it is in this place for over two decades.
This is because roofing tiles are made from asphalt, which in turn is derived from crude oil, and when he is in a state of intense heat, it simply burns the tiles on the roof, turning it is a dismal sight.
Premature roof aging is characterized by dull paint colors, bubbling and twisting of your home’s shingles. According to building repair professionals, a poorly ventilated attic greatly increases the risk of premature shingle aging, and it also damages the roof sheathing by adversely affecting the wood. It begins to warp and crests appear.
2. Cold house
There are other benefits of a fan besides saving the roof. If the temperature in the attic goes down when the weather is warm enough, your home will end up being more comfortable than it was before. A heated attic contributes to the temperature differential in the house, the second floor of the house becomes warmer than the first floor.
In the summer heat, the sun heats the roof a lot, and its heat is transferred to the attic with the help of wood framing material and cladding. The attic traps heat just like a car left in the sun outside the supermarket while you go shopping. You close the windows, and your car becomes a kind of heat trap. The same thing happens to your attic.
And very hot temperatures, sometimes as high as 150 degrees, transfer heat into your home long after the sun has gone down. If your attic is kept cool at all times, it will cool your home considerably and reduce your utility costs for using air conditioners.
If your attic gets very hot during the summer heat, this heat will transfer from it directly into the living area of your home, which will greatly increase the operation of your home air conditioners, and therefore your utility costs.
In addition to increased energy costs, turning on your air conditioner frequently can cause it to expire quickly. On average, an average air conditioner in the regular price range can last you about fifteen years, but if it is operated frequently and intensively, this will only be reduced to six years.
3. Stop mold growth
An attic with poor ventilation leads to an increase in mold any time of year, in cold and warm weather. In hot weather, your air conditioner will help you by pushing cold air into the house, while the attic heats up to hot temperatures at the same time.
When these opposing temperatures collide, you get condensation in the attic first, and then the moisture content rises as well. Now take a dark room, high humidity, and wood as a source of sustenance, this creates the perfect conditions for mold in your attic.
4. Eliminating the ice dam
Ice damming is a fairly unusual phenomenon in an attic that is poorly ventilated, and it only occurs in fairly cold weather. According to professionals, ice dams can be caused by a variety of factors and can lead to terrible problems in the future. If your attic is poorly ventilated and insulated, warm air can get in from the living areas of your home.
When this happens, snow begins to slowly melt on the roof during the winter. When the warm air stops flowing into your attic, the snow begins to freeze, turning to ice. Because the part of the roof next to the eaves is the coldest, ice builds up on the edge of the roof.
And when another batch of fallen snow begins to melt, it sinks off the roof again onto this ice buildup, which slowly becomes a sort of dam that holds back the proper drainage of your roof. This dam is far from safe for your home.
It can damage the exterior sheathing of your roof and even the walls of your home, break wooden beams and cause damage to drywall.
Moisture and water will begin to enter the house, leading to areas of mold. This brings us back to the previous item on our list of benefits of installing attic ventilation.
What Are The Cons?
Not only does installing an attic exhaust fan have pros, but it also has cons. We’ve compiled a few of the most popular cons of attic fans for you.
1. The risk of carbon monoxide
If you have appliances in your home that run on natural gas or propane, such as water heaters in attic or a furnace, putting an electric fan in your attic puts you at risk of serious carbon monoxide poisoning. It is worth saying that this problem does not apply to solar and turbine fans because they are inferior to other types of models.
If you believe contractors who are involved in home improvement, the main reason for this situation is that electric fans in the attic can generate a negative pressure inside the dwelling. While the air inside your dwelling turns negative, it becomes able to literally absorb gases from the water heater or kitchen stove, leaving them in the house while not letting them out.
The easiest and surest way to find out if your house has that negative air pressure is to slightly open a window sash while your attic fan is running. If the air is going into the house and not out, then it is under negative pressure. That said, the risk of poisoning can be greatly reduced if you carefully read the instructions that come with the attic fan.
Also, if you do place an electric fan and gas equipment in the same house, purchase a carbon monoxide detector so that you can measure this level on each floor of your home, especially if you have gas appliances and a garage in the outbuilding.
Attic fans are rated at cubic feet per minute, this figure tells us exactly how much air the fan can draw in for one minute. Attic fans have a minimum intake rate, which looks like the vented area from which the attic fan draws air.
If the attic is not ventilated enough for the fan to draw in air, it will start pulling air out of the house through empty spaces in the walls and ceilings if they are made of drywall because of the insufficient vent area.
2. Can increase energy costs
Experts have conducted investigations after which they concluded that attic fans do not reduce the energy consumption of a home HVAC system at all. Researchers convince us that the energy it takes to run an attic fan offsets all costs by increasing attic ventilation.
In addition, a thermostatic attic fan can take air from the air conditioner from the living rooms of your home, thereby reducing the energy gain much more, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
What’s more, when you consider the prices of attic fans and their placement in your home, it can take more than three decades to recoup all of these costs through increased energy efficiency due to the fact that attic ventilation is enhanced.
3. Risk of leakage through the roof
Every time you decide to put something on your roof, you run the risk of creating a leak in it. The chance of a leak can increase dramatically if you use the wrong masonry or if areas in the roof are not properly stabilized. On its own, an attic fan is not at risk of this at all, since it is not usually placed on the roof itself, but on the wall in an upright position.
According to research, most attic fans are completely inadequate to protect the roof from water intrusion during severe storms or hurricanes. Attic fans are mostly used to withstand normal rainfall rates, but during a storm, strong winds can force water under the roof.
How Do You Check Your Attic Fans?
№1. Will it turn on?
First, look for the thermostat (it looks like a tiny box made of metal), usually placed on a beam near the attic fan. Unscrew the knob that adjusts the temperature so that the temperature is lower than what it is now in the attic. You can also use a heat gun, hairdryer, or incandescent lamp to heat the thermostat a bit if your attic is already cold enough.
№2. Rotate the blades.
If your attic fan doesn’t want to start, you can try spinning the fan blades. If you can’t get it to do this and the blades refuse to spin, you may well just have a jam in the motor.
№3. Performance Quality
If the fan still managed to start, but some strange noises started to come out of it. Does it run smoothly? Can you feel air coming out of it or not? Make sure that the louvers are not clogged with debris, or the air will not get through.
№4. Water spots.
Often fan operation can cause leaks in the roof of your home. So you should occasionally look at the areas around the fan, paying particular attention to the roof sheathing.
Is It Worth It To Fans In Attics?
The whole sticking point about whether or not to install an attic fan is this: every home is unique in its own way, and it’s impossible to say unequivocally. The climate varies from state to state across the country, and some places are more suitable for installing an attic fan than others.
So our article is not at all a panacea for all homes, but just a guide to the main pros and cons of it all.
If your home has strong continuous soffit ventilation and ridge ventilation, then you should not spend large sums of money to install a fan in the attic. You simply don’t need one up there.
However, based on our years of experience, many homes do not have good passive ventilation. Many times we have seen that the owners of the house painted over the holes designed for ventilation rooms, put insulation so that it closes all the holes in the attic, and the ridge ventilation is laid with roofing felt.
One of the arguments against attic fans, about their effectiveness, can be opposed to the presence on the market of solar and turbine fans, which simply do not consume energy.
In addition, your homes have completely different levels, and therefore quality, of attic heat insulation and airflow, which directly affects the most important indicator of attic fans – their performance.
We will only agree with the fact that there are a bunch of positive reviews from satisfied customers of attic fans. They are not tied to a specific state; they are published all over the country.
In contrast to them, there are a lot of negative reviews as well. They mostly come from contractors and handymen, so fan installation is still an issue in the home industry.
We hope that after reading this article, you have clarified for yourself all the major positives and negatives of attic fan installation. This will help you come to a definitive conclusion about it.