Your Home Improvements: Whole house fans can keep things cool

By Signal Contributor

Last update: Friday, August 26th, 2016

Question #1

With the heat we are experiencing and the electric bill I just received, I’m “burnt out.” I’ve talked to many people recently about all of this and what options I have to try to both stay cool and reduce my electric bill due to the air conditioning.

The one item that keeps coming up is a whole house fan. I know now that several acquaintances have these and swear by them.

Can you explain how they work and if they are really all that they say they are? Do they really cool the house as much as is stated?

Please help me with this decision. I can’t take either the heat or the cooling bills any longer! Mike B.

 

Answer #1

Mike, whole house fans are amazing, I highly recommend them. You’ll need first to verify that you have attic space that will accommodate the fan itself, as well as the volume of air that will be forced to that area.

There is an abundant amount of information online to help with this, so once you’ve determined that this is an option for your home, you can either order online or go to your big box store locally and make your purchase.

From experience, my recommendation would be to go with the higher-priced, quieter model. The nicer models also come with timers; this can be a great asset to you.

You’ll need to be knowledgeable yourself, or hire an insured general/electrical contractor who can help with a proper install.

Whole house fans come with very specific instructions so most handy folks can take this on; however, installing a fan requires dealing with your attic, drywall and electrical, so make sure that you are prepared.

The way these fans work is that they take the outside air once it is cooler, usually in the evenings, and literally bring that air into your home via open windows/doors while pulling the hot air currently in the home, into the attic.

Essentially they are reverse fans; they suck the air and circulate it from the outside into the attic, and it then vents back out through the attic. What is really nice is that you can determine which rooms get cooled.

For instance, if you are relaxing in your family room and one person goes to bed, you can open the one bedroom window and the family room window, and these are the two rooms that the cool air will enter. You really end up with a “wind” traveling through the rooms.

You do always have to have a window or door open when the fan is in use as it will otherwise not function properly. It would be much like putting your hand over the vacuum hose – it doesn’t have a way to pull the air in.

With costs in mind, it will cost you much less to run a 110 circuit for the whole house fan than a 220 circuit that an air conditioner takes. I highly recommend these if your home will accommodate it.

Please note that you will not want to leave any door or window open enough to allow a person to enter. Always remember to use security locks that will allow a window or door to be open slightly, but still locked. Safety First! Good luck.

 

Question #2

I live in a HOA that is in a nicer area of Canyon Country. However, we do have vagrants who keep finding their way onto our property and making sleeping quarters.

We have locked gates but they still find a way to climb over. With the photos that I sent, can you give me an idea of what I can suggest to our board of directors to try to keep these folks out? Stephanie R.

 

Answer #2

Stephanie, thank you for sending in the photos with your question,.ely fool-proof solution to this problem.

Since your gates and fencing are iron and look like they are in good shape, my recommendation is to have custom fabricated arched pickets with spears installed at the top of this fence/gate area.

This is called Guardian Fence. This solution will keep the look of your property uniform and will serve as a barricade against the climbers.

Luckily, your area is not too big, so it won’t cost the HOA the national debt, but it will be a long-term solution.

You can customize these to be any height as long as you stay within code and can attach to the current iron that is there. A good welder will make it look great with clean welds.

Follow that up with prime and paint, and you will be set. Good luck.

Question #3

Hi, Robert. I have a beautiful curio cabinet that I’ve had made to hold a very special heirloom piece. This is something that needs to be locked, and I’ve had it made so that I can inset it into the wall.

My next step now that I’ve received it is to get it installed. I’d like to do this myself and I have the spot picked out.

What is the best tool to cut into the drywall in the area that I want this? I can just cut the hole, and then secure this box to the studs, right? Is there anything I need to be concerned with?

I’ve sent photos. Please let me know if you think this is something that a somewhat handy guy can do. Ron D.

 

Answer #3

Well, Ron, I encourage you to start this project the correct way, unlike what I recently did. The best way is to score the drywall with a utility knife and slowly cut the wall open.

If you use power tools as I did, you’ll end up with the mess that I made in my own home – I cut through two high-voltage lines, one telephone (yes I still have a phone line for my alarm system) and one alarm panel line.

The key here is to slow down and do it right, and safely. Once you have your wall open, then secure the box to the stud.

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at robert@imsconstruction.com.

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Your Home Improvements: Whole house fans can keep things cool

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Question #1

With the heat we are experiencing and the electric bill I just received, I’m “burnt out.” I’ve talked to many people recently about all of this and what options I have to try to both stay cool and reduce my electric bill due to the air conditioning.

The one item that keeps coming up is a whole house fan. I know now that several acquaintances have these and swear by them.

Can you explain how they work and if they are really all that they say they are? Do they really cool the house as much as is stated?

Please help me with this decision. I can’t take either the heat or the cooling bills any longer! Mike B.

 

Answer #1

Mike, whole house fans are amazing, I highly recommend them. You’ll need first to verify that you have attic space that will accommodate the fan itself, as well as the volume of air that will be forced to that area.

There is an abundant amount of information online to help with this, so once you’ve determined that this is an option for your home, you can either order online or go to your big box store locally and make your purchase.

From experience, my recommendation would be to go with the higher-priced, quieter model. The nicer models also come with timers; this can be a great asset to you.

You’ll need to be knowledgeable yourself, or hire an insured general/electrical contractor who can help with a proper install.

Whole house fans come with very specific instructions so most handy folks can take this on; however, installing a fan requires dealing with your attic, drywall and electrical, so make sure that you are prepared.

The way these fans work is that they take the outside air once it is cooler, usually in the evenings, and literally bring that air into your home via open windows/doors while pulling the hot air currently in the home, into the attic.

Essentially they are reverse fans; they suck the air and circulate it from the outside into the attic, and it then vents back out through the attic. What is really nice is that you can determine which rooms get cooled.

For instance, if you are relaxing in your family room and one person goes to bed, you can open the one bedroom window and the family room window, and these are the two rooms that the cool air will enter. You really end up with a “wind” traveling through the rooms.

You do always have to have a window or door open when the fan is in use as it will otherwise not function properly. It would be much like putting your hand over the vacuum hose – it doesn’t have a way to pull the air in.

With costs in mind, it will cost you much less to run a 110 circuit for the whole house fan than a 220 circuit that an air conditioner takes. I highly recommend these if your home will accommodate it.

Please note that you will not want to leave any door or window open enough to allow a person to enter. Always remember to use security locks that will allow a window or door to be open slightly, but still locked. Safety First! Good luck.

 

Question #2

I live in a HOA that is in a nicer area of Canyon Country. However, we do have vagrants who keep finding their way onto our property and making sleeping quarters.

We have locked gates but they still find a way to climb over. With the photos that I sent, can you give me an idea of what I can suggest to our board of directors to try to keep these folks out? Stephanie R.

 

Answer #2

Stephanie, thank you for sending in the photos with your question,.ely fool-proof solution to this problem.

Since your gates and fencing are iron and look like they are in good shape, my recommendation is to have custom fabricated arched pickets with spears installed at the top of this fence/gate area.

This is called Guardian Fence. This solution will keep the look of your property uniform and will serve as a barricade against the climbers.

Luckily, your area is not too big, so it won’t cost the HOA the national debt, but it will be a long-term solution.

You can customize these to be any height as long as you stay within code and can attach to the current iron that is there. A good welder will make it look great with clean welds.

Follow that up with prime and paint, and you will be set. Good luck.

Question #3

Hi, Robert. I have a beautiful curio cabinet that I’ve had made to hold a very special heirloom piece. This is something that needs to be locked, and I’ve had it made so that I can inset it into the wall.

My next step now that I’ve received it is to get it installed. I’d like to do this myself and I have the spot picked out.

What is the best tool to cut into the drywall in the area that I want this? I can just cut the hole, and then secure this box to the studs, right? Is there anything I need to be concerned with?

I’ve sent photos. Please let me know if you think this is something that a somewhat handy guy can do. Ron D.

 

Answer #3

Well, Ron, I encourage you to start this project the correct way, unlike what I recently did. The best way is to score the drywall with a utility knife and slowly cut the wall open.

If you use power tools as I did, you’ll end up with the mess that I made in my own home – I cut through two high-voltage lines, one telephone (yes I still have a phone line for my alarm system) and one alarm panel line.

The key here is to slow down and do it right, and safely. Once you have your wall open, then secure the box to the stud.

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at robert@imsconstruction.com.