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How to Install a Whole House Fan

Jul 26, 2008
This is a great home improvement project that any handyman can finish with the right tools and a little bit of help. Also, it's the best kind of project -one that has immediate results on the comfort of your living area and savings on your utility bills.

First things first, always read the directions that came with your whole house fan from front to back. Second, check and know your local building codes so you don't do something unsafe, or that you'll have to undo someday when you sell your house. Third, continue reading, using this article as a tip-sheet to compliment the whole house fan installation instructions supplied by the manufacturer.

Location
I assume you've already read the first article in this series about choosing a whole house fan, and now want to install it? Good. Location is everything. You need to look for one that has a number of features that will, very soon, make your project go much easier. First, as the handyman who is going to be doing the work, you want to pick a location that's fairly easy to access from the attic.

No matter what you do, you're going to have to go up there and muck around, so it might as well be somewhere you can easily access. Make sure there's enough overhead room for the fan itself. It needs some space not only to physically sit, but also a place that facilitates pushing air into the attic with the least resistance possible.

You should frame this whole search around the fact that you want the whole house fan to be located in as central a position in the house as possible. The closer it is to a window, the more air it will pull through that window when it's open. You want it to pull air in long runs so your entire house gets the air turned over. Generally a centrally-located hallway is best. That way it's not behind any doors and it's out of plain sight in your main living areas.

Next, look to see how you're going to run electric to the fan. If you plan on branching off a circuit near the fan, find it and scope it out. If you're going to run a new line, scope it out. If there's already a box in the attic that you can access into, scope it out. If I'm not being clear, SCOPE IT OUT so when you cut a gaping hole in your ceiling drywall you don't get that sinking feeling 15 minutes later when you realize you missed some critical detail! You need to get your eyes on the space in the attic where you plan on placing the fan to check clearance, electric access, and access to a wall if you need to run a line for a switch. Have a plan, and think it out before you start cutting drywall.

Installation Tips
If possible, build a box that your fan will sit on top of. This will serve to keep it as far away from your living area as possible. The farther up it sits, the less noise it will project into your living area. Make sure that you build the box with air-tightness in ming. You don't want the whole house fan pulling air from the attic and spitting it back out into the same place. That's a waste. When you have the box constructed (I used 2x6s), caulk all the seams with door/window caulk. Is that over the top? Maybe. But it can't hurt, it's cheap, and it's easy to do. It certainly won't hurt anything, so go ahead a do it while you have everyone open.

When everything is built and it's time to place the fan in the attic, get some foam rubber weather strips and install it so that the fan sits on a nice, soft, cushy base. This will minimize vibration and further reduce noise pollution.

If you're a forward-looking handyman, build an open box around the top of fan that you can use to mount an insulated cap on in the winter. Heat rises, and if you don't have your fan closed in the winter, you're going to pay for it in real dollars. Make arrangements now for easy winterization, whether you do that from the attic side or the house side.
About the Author
Allen Wright is a freelance writer who follows whatever topics hold his interest. Look for more handyman information here:

Install a Whole House Fan
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