I am used to living in single-story, no-basement houses, where one would just
open a window on either end of the house and pop in a box fan and have a nice
breeze. Now I bought a big old uninsulated house from 1916 with a full
basement, main floor w/11ft ceilings, upstairs w/10ft ceilings and an
unfinished (but large enough to be finished) floored, walk up attic. Now
obviously, the basement is nice and cool, the main floor is about 77-81 during
the day (when its like 85 outside), the upstairs is noticeably hotter, and well
the attic is excruciatingly hot! I have tried opening windows on opposite ends
of the main floor, and putting a fan blowing out the hot side hoping to draw in
from the shady side, but it only gave me about 1 degree of difference. I tried
opening the basement windows and putting a fan in one of the main floor windows
hoping to draw up some of that cool basement air, but all that did is bring up
that not-so-cool basement smell hehe. Opening up the 4 attic windows helps the
upstairs a little but we have been leaving the attic door closed. I guess I am
trying to figure out the best combination of fans and open windows to cool off
this monster house. From what I have read in various newsgroup postings, I am
considering trying fans in the attic windows. But how should I do it? The attic
windows are directly across from each other on opposite walls. Should I put a
fan in one facing in, and one facing out on the opposite side with the attic
door closed? Or should I put two in one side facing out and leave the attic
door open in hopes to draw heat up from the rest of the house (and leave the
opposing windows open or closed?)? Or, fans in both windows and the attic door
open? I know I am over complicating things, but it takes like a whole day to
see if each method is effective and I just wonder if any of you
old-house-dwellers have any good tricks! I am trying to not have to buy any air
conditioners, as I am an incredibly cheap individual :)
I lived in a two story house once and upstairs is hotter. I figured it was from
the upper wall getting more sun than a single story house. If you don't want
AC, I'd insulate the attic area and put in a whole house fan. With the fan,
you can easily direct where you want air to come in, the basement.
A whole-house fan installed in the ceiling of your upstairs hallway to
exhaust the warmest air from the house and push the hottest air out
the attic peak vents is the best (non-AC) solution. Insulate your
attic floor. run the fan at night to cool the house as much as
possible, shut up the windows and draw the drapes during the day. If
it gets too hot in the afternoon, you can open up again turn on the
whole house fan and at least get a breeze going. They pull a lot of
They make a lot of noise, too....
Gee hot air rises and cool air settles.
I lived in Iowa as a child and we used a whole house ventilator until my
mother got tired of me sneezing all night because of the allergies. We had
the fan in the upstairs hall window. Opened one window down-stairs and one
in each of the bedrooms.
If you exhaust into the attic you must have enough exhaust vents for the air
to move out. This will cool the whole house. Then shut everything off and
tight until the next evening.
Depending on humidity and out side temp you can reach outside temp ~+5
You want fans to blow air through the attic spaces, but only when it's
hotter inside than outside. You want to insulate the floor between the
attic and the living spaces, and leave the attic door closed.
You want to do something about the windows, so that your living
spaces don't leak air.
Our previous house had three floors. It was air conditioned but the ac was
very ineffective on the top floor. We installed a ceiling fan and left the
access hatch to the attic slightly open. It made a tremendous difference, in
effect sucking the hard to move cold air upwards. It was probably energy
inefficient but when it's 90 degrees with 100% humidity, who cares.
We now live in the country and do not have central ac. But a ceiling fan in
our cathedral ceiling makes a big difference.
back in the 70s I lived in a similar house. The prior owner had installed
exhaust fans in the attic (basicaly 2 huge motors with what looked like
airplane props mounbted on them). When they were on, they could slam all of
the doors in the house closed. The way we used it was to open all the
windows in the house early in the morning (very early - while its still
cool), and run the fan for an hour or so. This sucked in all the nice cool
air. Close all the windows except the attic windows, and leave one fan
running (close the attic door). This keeps the attic from turning into an
oven (a big black roof soaks upa lot of heat). If the day is really hot,and
the house gets as hot as it is outside, open the windows and attic door back
up, and turn the second fan back on. This gives a nice breeze throughout the
house. If the house stays cooler than the outside, wait until it cools off
in the evening (outside is cooler than inside), and open all the windows
again. We usually left the fans off at night unless it was really hot and we
wanted the breeze. then we'd leave one running (both was overkill), but only
open the windows in the bedrooms. That house was one of themost comfortable
I've ever lived in (temperature wise). It was almost always significantly
cooler than outside, and had the advantage of fresh air (as opposed to
recirculated A/C) and a breeze....
The house was (and probably still is...) in Massachussetts.
Now heating was a whole different story....
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I Tried a couple different ways last
night. The one that seemed to work well was to put two box fans in opposing
attic windows, both blowing out. This created such a vaccuum that it slurped
the attic door closed! Well I opened it back up and propped it open. I shut the
upstairs windows and opened the large window on the main floor and air was
pulling in quite nicely. The house was 5 degrees cooler than last night using
this method. I would like to put up ceiling fans, but I am trying to keep the
vintage lighting intact (rewired, but original). Thanks again for the
suggestions, and keep 'em coming! :)
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