Installation and Repair
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Bathroom exhaust fans are desirable in any bathroom, and
they are required in bathrooms that have no windows or a
window that can't be opened. On the topic of bathroom
ventilation, click this link if you would like to read more
about bathroom windows.
Bathroom fans should exchange the air in a bathroom
completely every five minutes. In addition to keeping the
air fresh, they also help inhibit the growth of mildew and
other fungi that easily breed in a bathroom.
Fans can be noisy, so listen to the model you are buying
before you bring it home.
Before installing your bathroom fan or beginning any
electrical work, be sure you have the required permits.
Failure to do so is illegal and may invalidate your
homeowner's insurance. If you are not comfortable or capable
installing your own bathroom fan, click here to get matched
to a Handyman.
Many changes will be dictated by electrical code, for
example, the number of outlets per circuit or use of special
GFCI outlets in bathrooms or kitchens. Your service
professional should be familiar with these codes.
Ceiling fans are a smart solution to achieving a comfortable, energy efficient home.
In fact, ceiling fans have been helping to provide relief
from the heat since the 1860s. They help to circulate warm
air during the winter and cool air during the summer.
Ceilings Fans and Energy Efficiency: Ceiling fans
increase the energy efficiency of your home in two ways. In
the summer a fan makes a room more comfortable thanks to the
air movement it creates. That
simple fact makes it possible to set the A/C higher than if fans weren't installed.
In the winter, on the other hand, your fan serves another
purpose altogether. Warm air from your furnace rises and
collects at the ceiling, where it doesn't do you much good.
By flipping the switch on your ceiling fan so it turns the
other direction, you eliminate the stiff breeze it creates,
but still benefit from the air circulation it provides. All
that warm air up at the ceiling is conveniently recirculated
throughout your home.
Ceiling Fan 101: The larger the fan, the more air it will
move. The faster the fan, the more air it will move. More blades, bigger blades, steeper fan blade
pitch, and more powerful motors provide you with the
greatest air movement. From a design perspective, fans
typically have three, four or
five blades. They can be made from a variety of materials:
wood, composite, vinyl. The blades can be painted or veneered, and come
in so many styles that there's sure to be a ceiling fan out
there to catch your fancy.
Ceiling Fans and Placement: First of all, a fan should be
installed in the center of a room, where it can provide the
widest area of circulation, though be careful that blade
tips are at least two feet from walls or sloped ceilings.
You can mount your fan flush or suspended from a drop rod,
depending on how high your ceilings are. In order to avoid
injury, however, you're well advised not to mount your fan
lower than seven feet from the floor. Any lower than that
and you could lose a finger or two stretching when you stand
up from the couch.
Ceiling Fan Installation: Fans can be installed by a
do-it-yourselfer, though since installation involves working
with electricity it's important that you understand basic
electrical work and safety before you tackle this job. If
you have any doubts about your ability to get it done
safely, you can hire just about any handyman or small
contractor to come in and install your new fans for you. If
you do install fans yourself, be sure to cut all power at
the breaker box before you begin, and remember that ceiling
fans require solid support. Their heavy weight and
centrifugal motion strains hangers, so they should never be
mounted to conventional ceiling fixture boxes. Other than
that there's not much to it. Some basic wiring, attaching
the fan to the box, and you're in business. All you'll have
to do is balance the blades, so that your ceiling fan runs
smoothly, and provides with the comfort and improved energy
efficiency you expect
For more information, see the
HomeTips Ceiling Fans Buying Guide
Whole House Fans
You know you want to make your air conditioning system
more energy-efficient, but the cost of removing and
installing an entirely new system can often be prohibitively
expensive. If this is the case, you should be looking at
auxiliary installations that can work in conjunction with
your current system, improving performance without the
expense of a total remove and replace project. Whole house
fans are one of the best supplemental systems available.
How Whole House Fans Work: A whole house fan works by
quickly pulling in large amounts of fresh cool air from
outside and circulating it through the house. Meanwhile, the
hot air gets pushed out the attic in minutes. If the
temperature outside drops from 85-degrees to 75-degrees in
two hours, for example, the air in the house will take about
four hours to drop that much.
Whole house fans can do the job in less than half that
time. Since it pushes air out the attic, it also cools the
attic and reduces heat gain in the house. So by turning on
your fan in the cool morning hours, you can bring in
comfortable air, then close up the house and avoid the
searing heat of summer. Turning it on again in the evening
ensures all day comfort on all but the very hottest days.
Advantages of Whole House Fans: In milder climates, whole
house fans can eliminate the need for central air
conditioning altogether. This can allow you to focus on
installing an efficient heating system for your home, such
as radiant flooring. Even if you need something more than
whole house fans during the summer, the fans will greatly
reduce the stress and need for high performance from your
current air conditioning system.
The operating cost of a whole house fan is about one-tenth
that of air conditioning and should enable you to cut your
electricity usage by 80 percent. The fans typically draw 400
to 600 watts of electricity, operating for eight cents or
less per hour. Therefore, under the right circumstances a
whole house fan can ventilate an entire house on the
electricity an air conditioner would use to cool one room.
Whole House Fan Installation: A whole house fan can be
wired into an existing electrical circuit and most fans are
designed to go in easily, requiring no cutting of trusses.
Direct-drive whole house fans are available at home centers
for do-it-yourself installation, but these are noisier and
less efficient than belt-driven models, making them
inappropriate for medium and larger homes. You'll also need
to determine what size fan is appropriate for your home.
Fans between 24 and 36 inches in diameter are usually the
standard and whether you need a bigger or smaller fan
depends on the size of your home.
Outdoor Ceiling Fans
Most everybody knows the advantages of indoor ceiling
fans—the reduced energy bills, the pleasant breeze it
creates, and just the ambiance it can create over a kitchen
table. Few people realize, though, that some these
advantages and different ones also come with installing an
outdoor ceiling fan. These ceiling fans are built to create
downward drafts, just like their indoor counterparts. Flying
insects find it difficult to fly in this draft. More than
just the summer heat, no longer having to constantly swat at
bugs while dining on your patio is often the reason people
choose to install an outdoor ceiling fan.
A Different Fan Altogether: Don't think that difference
in outdoor and indoor ceiling fans is nothing but a name.
Outdoor ceiling fans must endure the humidity, the sun,
wind, and the heat and cold of the elements. Metal hangings
designed for a home's interior can rust. A basic attachment
that would be more than adequate inside may cause the sway
that ceiling fans are known for. Unless you know the
particulars of installing an outdoor ceiling fan, it's best
to call your handyman.
Your Choices: Ceiling fans were invented at the end of
the 19th century and have gone through several different
reincarnations. People have appreciated their decorative
value since their inception, meaning the options for the
appearance of your ceiling fan are nearly endless. You can
have a fan that imitates a plane, the motor blades of a
boat, a bird's wings, or anything else you can thing of that
goes flap. The fan's blades and casement can be wood, metal,
plastic or a few other less common alternatives. Retro-fans
can imitate the décor of previous centuries if that's what
you need to match the theme of your patio furniture.
Most outdoor ceiling fans also have overhead lights. These
lights are as numerous as the fans themselves. They can
imitate the reflected light of a chandelier or can be
encased in the latest style of contemporary art. Whatever
you want, it can be done is probably already available. The
overhead light is especially useful in an outdoor setting.
In fact, many people need outdoor lighting for their patio
and realize the benefit of installing a light and a ceiling
fan in tandem.
The Tropical Ceiling Fan: One of the most popular outdoor
ceiling fans is the tropical ceiling fan. Although you can
also choose one for inside your home, the tropical ceiling
fan is especially adept in an outdoor setting. The wider
blades create a larger draft that can be necessary for the
open air. These wide blades usually take on the appearance
of plants or palm fronds making this fan a favorite of
people who live on the beach. If you're looking into kinds
of ceiling fans for your patio, this is definitely a good
place to start.
During the hot summer months, attic temperatures can
reach up to 160 degrees, and even though passive cooling
systems, such as ridge vents, can certainly disperse the
heat, more efficient ventilation can be attained through the
use of attic fans. Though these fans can certainly cool down
your attic, they have a much broader function: whole house
In the Attic: During the summer, your attic acts as a
giant radiator, retaining heat which can end up ruining your
stored possessions. This built-up heat can also spill over
into the rest your home, causing your utility bills to
steadily climb. In the winter, although the attic is
certainly cooled off, moisture can eventually build up on
the interior of the roof, creating havoc on your household
structure (mildew, mold, peeling paint, decaying shingles,
warped beams and floorboards). Since you don't want to waste
energy by heating or cooling your attic, the most efficient
way to solve these problems is simple ventilation.
Even though natural ventilation can alleviate a lot of
problems, attic fans can increase the air flow by pulling in
air outside of your home and pushing it out through attic
vents. Just as with central air conditioners, when the air
in the attic hits a certain pre-set temperature, the fan
will pull in cooler external air and push out the warmer air
at a faster rate than passive ventilation systems that
normally have to wait until the air gets so hot that it
expands and slowly floats out through the vents on its own.
For the winter months, these fans can also come with a
humidistat that can pull moisture out of the air in order to
Whole House Fan: These fans not only cool off your attic,
they can be designed to ventilate your entire house. Central
air can be very expensive and inefficient. Plus, if you live
in an older house without central air, why spend all that
money on new units and duct work when attic fans can to the
job for you. These fans are often installed in hallways and
work on the same principle: by opening up your windows, they
pull in the cooler outside air, move it quickly throughout
your home, and release it through your attic, thereby
cooling the entire house without all the extra costs. Of
course it takes electricity to operate the fan, but it uses
substantially less than central air; and if you want to
avoid additional energy costs, you may want to look into the
newest innovations in ventilation systems.
Solar Attic Fans: A solar attic fan is the newest invention
in the heating and cooling industry. They are installed on
the roofs of most homes and by collecting natural energy
from the sun they can power a whole house fan with the same
efficiency as electrical units. Since they run on natural
resources, they cut down on utility costs, are more
environmentally friendly, and don't take up as much room in
the home. They only operate when the sun is shining, but
since removing excessive heat is usually the number one task
of any attic fan, this is usually not a problem.
When it comes to ventilating your attic, always consult a
professional. Though one fan is usually sufficient, it all
depends on your personal priorities: cost, efficiency, and
function. Do you want additional energy savings? Do you have
a bigger attic to ventilate? Are you concerned about just
the upstairs or the entire house? Are solar attic fans right
for you? These questions can be better answered by
consulting an experienced contractor who can impart expert
advice and ensure quality installation.
Ceiling Fans Keep You Cool.
Is your home excessively hot in the summer and cold in
the winter? In response to the fluctuating temperature, do
you crank up the air conditioning and furnace? If so, you're
probably accumulating large energy bills for your home. One
of the best solutions to these heating and cooling problems
are ceiling fans because they not only save you money and
offer relief, but they can also add a stylish look to your
Design and Style: Since all fans provide some kind of
relief, the first thing you may want to consider is style.
They come in a large variety of colors, sizes, and materials
and offer many different forms of motor housings, blade
types, and lighting units. Do you want you fan to be
invisible? Do you want it to pop out and be on display? Do
you want it to blend in with the rest of your home's look?
When in the market for a fan make sure to at least consult a
professional who may be able to give you fashion tips as
well as more practical advice about efficiency, durability,
Also, don't forget lighting. Many fans come with an
assortment of different lighting systems that can add to
their elegance. The newest trend is "uplighting," which
mounts units facing toward the ceiling and offers a soft and
subtle cast of light throughout the room.
Operating Systems: An important component to research in
ceiling fans is the motor. Motor power determines how fast a
room is cooled, but larger motors can also create a lot of
extra noise and expend more energy, increasing its
short-term and long-term costs. There a variety of motors
out there and a lot depends on the amount of use the fan is
going to get. So always make sure to you select the
appropriate size motor that will fit your room's specific
Blades are another important factor when selecting a
ceiling fan. They also come in an infinite number of styles
and sizes, so make sure you pick the right blade to fit your
needs. Most of this depends on where you are going to
install the fan. If indoors, the main thing to look for is
pitch: at what angle is the blade situated in relation to
the ground. A lot of this hinges on the motor size of the
fan, and don't fall into the trap of thinking that a steeper
pitch provides more cooling: steeper pitches may be trying
to compensate for weaker motors. But if you're placing your
fan outside, make sure that the blades are sealed for
moisture. Many blades come with damp ratings (for bathrooms
or kitchens) and wet ratings (for patios), so make sure to
look at these moisture scores before buying.
Accessories Available: Many ceiling fans today come with
remote controls or wall units for your convenience. Though
all fans come with a pull-chain for adjustments, these
remote accessories are able to control the rotation and
speed of your fan from a distance. Some fans come with
dimmer controls that, like lights, can slowly regulate the
speed of the blades. However, these dimmers can create a
perpetual hum in the motor. Therefore, to avoid any excess
noise, try to choose a remote that has 3-4 separate speed
Efficiency Tips for additional savings:
Energy Star: Buying an Energy Star qualified fan means
that the unit has been approved for energy savings. These
fans (and lighting units) are about 50% more efficient than
traditional fans, helping to save the environment and your
Turn It Off: Contrary to popular opinion, fans don't cool
rooms; they cool down people in rooms. So to save on your
energy bills, turn the fans off in rooms that are not be
All-Year Savings: Fans can be used in both summer and
winter. In the winter, simply reverse the blade rotation.
This allows the rising warmed air in your home to
re-circulate the room for added comfort.
Replacement Parts: Since fans run all year, make sure you
have parts that are easily replaceable. Even if you buy the
most efficient, durable fan, they will need maintenance at
some point. So by having replacement parts readily
available, you'll be able to quickly fix the problem without
By creating a wind-chill effect, ceiling fans have been
known to drop room temperature's down by ten degrees. This
allows you to set your thermostat at a higher setting during
these hot, summer months, yet still be able to cool down
your home and ultimately your utility bill.
Solar Attic Fans
Having a properly vented attic keeps your home cooler,
your utility bills lower (since you won't have to run the AC
as much), and helps combat the harmful effects of
condensation buildup which can lead to rot, mold, and
mildew. Traditionally, passive ventilation and electrical
attic vent fans have been used to address this issue and
keep a flow of fresh air circulating through the attic
space. Recently, however, the solar powered attic fan has
started to catch on as a near perfect solution for this
Harnessing the Power of the Sun: A solar powered attic
fan works pretty much like you'd expect it to. The fan
itself is installed near the ridge of your home's roof, and
is then connected to a set of low powered photovoltaic solar
cells that provide the fan with enough electricity to get
the fan spinning when the sun is shining. More often than
not, these cells are installed directly onto the outside of
the fan housing, though if your fan is being installed in a
shady area you can opt to place the solar cells in a
different area that gets more regular, and direct, sunlight.
Once installed, your solar attic fan will kick on whenever
the sun is out, drawing fresh air up through your soffit
vents and blowing hot, stale and humid air up and out of
your attic at the same time.
No Wiring, No Switches, No Worries: One of the big
benefits of a solar powered attic fan is ease of
installation. Since its energy source is the sun, you won't
have to worry about running any wiring, installing
downstairs switches, installing thermostats, or making sure
the whole thing is up to code as you would with electrically
powered vent fans. The only thing you'll have to worry about
is where to install it on your roof. Make sure you put it
(or the solar cells) in a place where they'll get the most
direct sunlight possible, however. Remember, good attic
ventilation is important year round, and your fan will only
run at optimal efficiency if you make sure your solar cells
are getting maximum exposure to sunlight. Installing it in a
shady area will drop the power it receives, and subsequently
the amount of air it is able to circulate through your
Solar Attic Fans Are Virtually Maintenance Free: Besides
ease of installation, the other reason many homeowners are
seeing the light when it comes to solar attic fans is the
fact that they require almost no maintenance once installed.
The photovoltaic cells can provide the fan with power for up
to 50 years without being replaced, meaning once you get it
installed it pretty much takes care of itself. And since
it's not drawing electricity from your home, you're also
saving money. Solar powered attic fans cost a little more
initially, but when you consider the fact that they are
self-powered, and have the potential to significantly reduce
your energy costs as well, it's easy to see why this is one
home improvement task that pays for itself in time.
If you're interested in installed a solar attic fan, talk
to a contractor or solar products retailer about what it
will take to get these environmentally friendly,
economically wise attic fans installed in your home.