As the warmth of spring transitions to summer, the sun steadily climbs to its apex in the sky. Temperate becomes torrid. Relief is sought. Back yard swimming pools and pulsing sprinklers echo with the delighted screams of children, free from their academic duties for the time. The incessant whir of air conditioners and fans an under tone to the melodious twittering of birds busy feeding new families. While summer is mainly pleasant, excessive heat can on occasion lead to unusual, even desperate behavior.
As a home inspector I have the unpleasant summer job, all though thankfully brief, of inspecting areas of a house that can rival the temperatures of the Sahara Desert. The roof can be very hot in the afternoon of a scorching day, but much of that heat is transferred to the attic below. I have been in attics where I have recorded temperatures in excess of 130 degrees.
All that heat has a tendency to naturally diffuse into the living space. Thus one of the reasons for insulation. With extreme heat insulation may not be enough to keep the inside of the home reasonably comfortable, especially in the absence of air conditioning. Fans then are the homeowners only possible means of relief. As the temperature inside begins to rise, the desperation for some relief can lead the mind to some strange places. Or perhaps the mind may have been there already, one can never truly know.
Traversing a sweltering attic recently I shuffled on by what I initially though to be a cardboard box. Nothing unusual about a box in an attic, I hardly gave it a glance. On my return to trip I noticed a window fan in front of the box. As I drew closer I realized the fan was in the box. At that moment it all came together, this was a make shift whole house fan.
I had noticed the louvered opening of a house fan in the hall ceiling before ascending to the attic. Now I saw that was the only conventional part of this system. The fan was obviously quite old, meaning it had been here a long time. The enclosure was constructed as I mentioned of cardboard and yes, duct tape.
Did it work?
I wasn't desperate enough to find out. I snapped the picture and got out of the desert heat.