Airing Things Out

Montana summer is near, and we love enjoying the warm weather outside.  And we want that warmth to stay outside.  In our first house, keeping it cool wan’t too difficult.  Ben super insulated the walls and we had a functioning geothermal to cool.  Well, the mountain house has neither and we’ve got loads of large windows and southern exposure.  It heats up in here.  Luckily, our nights cool off nicely this time of year. Ben came up with a genius idea to tide us over during these in between months; a whole house fan.

After some discussion and weighing our options, we decided to remove the ugly fluorescent light in my office to make room for the fan.

The electric from the light made install easier.  Removing the light was easy enough, then Ben located the roof rafters using a stud finder.

Typical install involves cutting the rafter to make room for the fan.  Not cool with us.  Something about tearing out part of a structural element seems wrong.  Instead, Ben used the fan template and cut the sheet rock around the beam.

Here’s the big guy now.  The fan, not Ben.  🙂

Ben used 2 by 4s to build a brace around the outside of the opening, then put the fan in place.

I’d love to give you a detailed tutorial of everything he did, but I wasn’t in the attic.  However, I can give you this shot of how it looks from afar when on.

The fan sucks warm air from the house and puts it in the attic, which also pulls the louvers up.  The beam across the middle blocks the center louver from moving, so Ben cut it loose from the rest.

When off, the louvers kind of look like a vinyl fence.  Still, it is a far better look than the huge oak encased light of yore.

Even better, when on, the fan does a great job pulling the cold outside air through the open windows.  If we close everything early enough, the house stays cool throughout the day.  What a smart man I have.

16 thoughts on “Airing Things Out

  1. My parents had a house fan when we were growing up and it kept the house cooler during the hot Indiana summer nights. It was also very loud, which was fine during the night but annoying during the day.

  2. My folks also had that before we had air conditioning installed. I don’t remember it being loud – we only really ran it at night – but it really worked.

  3. Our house had this when we moved in & honestly I wasn’t sure about it at first…but it is great! We love it, I feel like I can not only cool the house quickly but also it’s great to air the house out after being closed up all winter…we love it! 🙂 I really enjoyed the house tour yesterday as well! 😉

  4. Never have heard of that before! Our house has no insulation and runs by a swamp cooler that is mediocre at best. This would be very handy here too!

  5. We have had an attic fan in our old house and our new house, and we love it! I hate using the air conditioning, so it’s a great alternative and also better for our electric bill!

    1. Hi Abby, This one isn’t terribly loud, but it’s not whisper quiet either. I’m happy keeping the house cool even if there is a little more noise. 🙂

      Hey Emily! We usually run it really early in the morning, leaving the windows open at night. It doesn’t keep the house a nice 68 degrees, but it does keep it bearable.

      Hi Holly! Oh yeah, it’s a super quick way to air out the house. Love that, especially with lingering cooking smells.

      Hi Megan, You should look into it. Your house probably heats up during the summer months. If you get cooler nights, this might be a good option for you.

      Hey Rachel! We never had AC in our first house until the geothermal. Running that is super cheap, so I didn’t mind using it. But now we don’t have an efficient way to cool the house. This works and it was only about $400 for the whole thing. So glad you love yours. 🙂

      Hi Julia! I don’t know a specific decibel rating, but on high it’s still easy enough to talk over if you’re in the same room. The boys are loud, so this constant white noise is nothing compared to them. 😉

      Hi Ashley, This is our new go to system for spring and fall.


  6. We’ve been thinking about doing this for sometime to save money on hot days and allow our windows to be open at night since it easily gets to 100+ in Northern Cali in the Summers. One of our neighbors has ones and swears by it…..most likely we’ll put ours in the hallway…..I’m hoping this is a easy DIY project for us 🙂 Glad you shared this!

  7. We installed a whole house fan in our house in Northern California several years ago. It’s perfect for this climate. We only have to use the A/C on the hottest of days. The only downside (for allergy sufferers) is that it also pulls in whatever pollen is in the air.

  8. That was going to be my comment also. I’m in Texas & both my in-laws and my mom have one. When it’s my allergy suffering time of year it’s horrid. The rest of the time, it rocks!

  9. are your stovetop flames affected by the fan? I have one in the hallway in the bedrooms and it keeps that end of the house cool. I would like to install one in the kitchen area, but am unsure? any ideas

  10. Does this only work in ranches with big attics? Our house has a flat roof on part of the 2nd floor because of the dormer so we’re probably out of luck. Luckily it’s only hot a few months of the year here. I actually love being hot (as long as I’m not cooking or cleaning or really doing anything but lounge) because it’s so fleeting!

    1. Hi Karin, Yeah, I never thought of that because no one in our house has allergies (that we know of).

      Hey Hannah! We have an electric cook top right now and we only run it at night because we use it to cool the house off right now. I don’t know how often you’d run the stove and the fan at the same time though. If you’ve got a vent hood, you should run that while cooking, then if you want to get the smell out or cool the house down, you could turn on the whole house fan. Hope that helps a little. 🙂

      Hey Nora Rose, Well, you need some sort of attic space, but the fan isn’t especially tall. Maybe a foot or so? If you’ve got attic space in some of the upper level you could probably get a fan in there.


  11. We installed one in our house when we remodeled out second floor many years ago. We don’t have air, but in the Seattle area we don’t need it. The fan works well on those few hot summer days when there is no air movement. Ours is loud but worth it. In the winter, I take out the louvers and put up some 2″ styrofoam cut to size (stays put on its own) to keep in the warm room air. I hav’nt figured out how to make the styrofoam pretty in winter though!

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