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Whole house fan cooling

Discussion in 'Homeowners Corner' started by kholbert, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. kholbert

    kholbert Member

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    I, like so many Broadlands homeowners, am struggling to keep our upstairs cool. Our upstairs simply cannot deal with the built-up heat, especially recently with nightly low temperatures in the upper 80's. The main level and basement are fine due to the fact that cool air falls and hot air rises. So I figured a whole house fan installed in a upstairs window would force the hot air out, replaced with cool air from downstairs. I purchased a Air King 20" 3560 CFM unit from Amazon based upon good reviews.

    Installation was easy and it works, kinda. Where you install it makes a big difference and you should be willing to put up with some noise temporarily. Initially I put it in a window off our upstairs hallway. Later I put it in MBR but wife said it was "too loud" (it did work better there). This thing moves so much air that it creates suction in the home. To work right it needs a window in basement or first floor to be opened to create a draft. This would be fine if outdoor temps dropped to say 80 degrees or lower. When its hot and humid till past midnight the fan ends up sucking in that humidity and makes house uncomfortable.

    The other problem is that when mounted to a window, its still not high enough to draw out accumulated hot air near ceiling of upstairs. An installed whole house fan mounts to ceiling (with a whole cut and louvers when shut off) and blows into attic. You should already have a attic fan to blow hot air from attic to outside. I think once the outdoor temps drop below 80 in the evenings, I'll be able to turn on the whole house fan either exhaust hot air or draw in cool air (instead of running AC which is more expensive).

    I think the design of our homes HVAC is flawed. I have a zoned system with multiple furnace/ac units (one in attic). The attic unit draws air from returns in the upstairs ceilings. During summer, the attic AC is easily overworked drawing in hot air then trying to cool that air. The attic AC air return should be located on first floor or better yet the basement. Part of the reason the basement AC unit does well and fails less is that its drawing in cool air that collects in basement. It has less work to do recycling cool air. If only there was a way through ducting to draw the cool air from basement and blow it out upstairs where its needed. Has anyone had their upstairs ductwork reconfigured?
     
  2. StevieD

    StevieD New Member

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    I posted this on a few other threads, but we also had tremendous problems cooling our upstairs with the standard two-zone (smaller upstairs unit) HVAC that the Broadlands builders originally installed. Last year, I had Bowman HVAC install a new downstairs unit, and they recommended that I get the attic ductwork reconfigured - that this would solve my upstairs problems. At the time, I asked about an attic fan, and they told me it wouldn't do much good since we already had a ridge vent - and that what I really needed was the reconfigured ductwork.

    So...we ended up getting the ductwork reconfigured, and the result - nothing...it was a colossal waste of time and money.

    This year, we contacted Steve at Roofer911 and had him put in an attic fan. I've already posted on what a great customer service experience I had with Roofer911 - two thumbs up on that. In addition, the attic fan has worked absolutely as advertised. Even with this recent +100 deg heat, we have had no trouble cooling down upstairs. I would skip the reconfigured ductwork and go with a properly sized, properly installed attic fan which kicks on automatically based on attic temperature.

    S
     
  3. hberg

    hberg give me some of your tots

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    Hi Ken,
    I can second Roofer 911 but will tell you we had an attic fan installed and it makes a difference during normal summers but this past heat - the coolest we got the upstairs with thermostat set at 72 was 78 degrees. Now who knows how much the attic fan contributed to that not going any higher. We also had to have freon added this past summer so we know we have slow leak somewhere. We are on borrowed time with those crappy units the builders installed.
     
  4. cobymom

    cobymom Sheila Ryan

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    We need to get our attic fans fixed, they're not working and we can really tell the difference in this heat! Do you think Roofer911 would just repair what we already have, or should I just call an electrician?
     
  5. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    While the AC unit is designed to work on a delta temperature drop (yes, the hotter intake is a higher starting point for the AC unit to cool from), the intake is supposed to be in the area the unit is servicing else you don't get actual air circulation.. and instead the unit is trying to blow into a closed area and can't actually do so. With no returns upstairs, your unit wouldn't be able to recirculate the air as well and you'd still struggle.
     
  6. kholbert

    kholbert Member

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    Donna,
    I may call Roofer911 to put in an extra attic fan. From my research 1 is not enough for our sized home. Plus, as far I know, there is no air moving between the attic space over the garage and over the MBR. As a result hot air trapped in that area is pressed against one side of our MBR which is why its hotter than the rest of upstairs (colder in winter). Pretty good guess that its not well insulated either. In addition, we have a cathedral ceiling in MBR which further constricts airflow and limits insulating space.

    Checked on our existing fan and noted it wasn't working despite high heat. I think the motor has failed. I imagine 911 can fix that as well. Or is replacing the motor a DIY job? Nah never mind, it wont be cool enough to do the work myself. I may choose to have solar powered attic fans installed.
     
  7. Mike-and-Kim

    Mike-and-Kim Member

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  8. mikec

    mikec New Member

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    Stevie D,

    Do you mind posting how much it cost for the attic fan and installation from Roofer911? Thanks!!
     
  9. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    mikec-

    Roofer911 charges $800 if electrical hook-up is needed.
    Had mine installed by Apex Roofing. Cost was $500 with electrical work.
     
  10. hberg

    hberg give me some of your tots

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    Roofer 911 did a thermal inspection so we could see where air was escaping. There is a bunch of insulation missing in the bump out corners in the MBR. That's also how we found our gutters were pitched and installed wrong. I agree the main issue is the air between the attic space over the garage and over the MBR. We get between a 6 to 8 degree difference with the air in the summer. Goodman are lousey cheap units. I am impressed that someone here gets 76 and under because we do not on 90+ days. We have our units serviced twice a year too. Apex has also done some great work for us on our roof with a leak we had. So I think you are good with either just not sure they can really fix the issue as it is more than roofing.

     
  11. Roofer911

    Roofer911 New Member

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    This summer’s heat has been unbearable lately! Please understand that in order for any home to stay cool during extreme warm temperatures, insulation and ventilation is mandatory along with making sure that the doors and windows etc are sealed properly so not to let any heat inside the home. Please understand, even with an attic fan installed some homes will see little temperature differential if any of the problems listed above occur.
    With all power fan installations we perform a free infrared scan to detect any areas of heat infiltration through walls, windows and doors to insure efficiency.
     
  12. Kilkenny

    Kilkenny New Member

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    $800......OMG, I'm coming out of retirement!
     
  13. StevieD

    StevieD New Member

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    Let me tell you - when you are sweating uncomfortably with no relief because your upstairs can't cool, $800 doesn't seem so much!! Seriously, I'm not sure Roofer911 is the cheapest, but as I have reported in other posts, I've never had such a good experience with a contractor - unfortunately, most of my experiences have resulted in significant time/effort/grief on my part, and so the additional premium for me was worth it.
     
  14. Roofer911

    Roofer911 New Member

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    I think you fail to realize everything that goes into our price of $800.00 for the attic fan installation. We also include an infrared scan ($450.00 value) to the entire upper level of the home to insure that the attic fan works efficiently during very hot days.
    Without the scan, many homeowners will be spending their hard earned money for attic ventilation systems that will serve no purpose because of the heat infiltration through the walls, attic, windows etc.
    I'm sorry that you feel our price is high, if you think about the energy savings for the long-term you will realize our price is very reasonable. Have a wonderful day!
     
  15. Kilkenny

    Kilkenny New Member

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    Naturally you will defend your prices; I would also, but please realize that a majority of the good folks in Ashburn have no clue as to what a "going" price is in the real world. Most just pay what is asked. Loudoun is the wealthiest county in the nation and of course the trades want their piece of the pie. :2thumbs: Stay cool and enjoy life.
    Back to lurker status:scaredhide: You get the last word.
     
  16. Roofer911

    Roofer911 New Member

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    I respect your opinion and you have every right to say what’s on your mind but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, you are 100% correct, many homeowners have no clue what is wrong with their home and it’s my job to inform them exactly what is needed to ensure a permanent fix for the long-term. Also, I would like to mention, Ashburn homeowners are a MUCH smarter than you think; they will not just simply pay what is asked unless they fully understand what is required.
    In closing, I would like to say, “thank god for the homeowners in Ashburn you are not a contractor” your comments do not serve you well! Have a wonderful day!
     
  17. Charlie

    Charlie New Member

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    We had Roofer911 install and attic fan and have been very happy with the results. We have the two zone HVAC system with one unit in the attic and had always had trouble cooling the upstairs (this summer it was 81F up there some days). The most important part of what Steve did for us, was the infrared scan. Based on that I was able to see exactly how bad the insulation was in parts of the attic and subsequently rented a machine from Home Depot to blow extra loose fill up there. Now, with the combined effect of the power fan and extra insulation, we have no problem keeping the upstairs cool, even on really hot days like we had last week. In fact, it has completely taken the pressure off the upstairs unit, which used to run continuously all day. Now it cycles off frequently.
     
  18. kholbert

    kholbert Member

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    I've resolved the excessive heat issue upstairs. My main problem was twofold. For one, my attic AC unit was low on freon and not producing adequate cool air. Cascade Comfort services added 2 lbs? of freon and checked AC for $185. Next was that my attic fan motor had failed. I asked Cascade to fix it but they said that was not a service they provide. I asked a roofing contractor to take a look and they recommended replacing the entire fan (for $750).

    Based upon other posts on this forum I decided to see if I could replace the fan motor myself. After shutting off power I removed the old fan, detached wires and fan blade. I could not find a motor replacement at Home Depot or a couple of other local electric supply outlets. I ended up ordering a new motor and fan blade from Amazon for $75 with shipping. Parts arrived within 4 days and I successfully reinstalled fan in cool morning attic.

    Before these fixes, the upstairs temps were in the low 90's @ 10 on hottest days. This despite the AC running all day. Now AC cycles off @ set temp of 80 by 10PM. While the heat problem has been resolved for now, I still think that my attic space over my MBR needs more ventilation since it is still hotter than rest of upstairs. This is the second summer in a row I've had Cascade add more freon (they suspect I have a leak).

    Has anyone installed a radiant barrier in their attic? If so, did it help.
     
  19. Roofer911

    Roofer911 New Member

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    Yes, I know someone who works with radiant barrier and does perfection work at a reasonable price. Please call Anthony at VA Home Iinsulation at 703-980-1085.
     
  20. Mazinger

    Mazinger New Member

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    Actually you want the return to be where the hot air collects. You need to get rid of the heat. And you will obviously want a unit large enough to do that job.

    And you found out about adding a large exhaust fan. Any air you take out of the house has to come from somewhere. Large fans won't work unless you have air coming in.
    Small bathroom fans are fine since air comes in from leaks throughout the house.
     

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