Summertime Desperation

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

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.

Homemade attic fanAll 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.

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Diane Daley
Caron's Gateway Real Estate - Northumberland, NH

Looks like a safety hazard to me, I would be concerned of a fire possibly starting, and I'm no inspector.


Jul 21, 2012 11:02 PM #1
Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker
Janisch & Co. - Conroe, TX
Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you!

Ahhhh..... the creativity and ingenuity of some folks.  I'm sure it worked but not like a whole house fan would have!

Jul 21, 2012 11:21 PM #2
Richard Burge Realty/ Burge Homes
Richard Burge Realty/Burge Homes - Conway, SC
Broker in Charge/Owner

Red Green would be happy with that set up.   Who is Red Green??  you can find him on Youtube...

Jul 21, 2012 11:29 PM #3
Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

Undoubtedly worked, but safely is another matter! Yes, this time of year is murder in the attics. I struggle between doing it first and getting over it, and doing it last so I can cool off in my truck as soon as possible!

Stay cool!!

Jul 21, 2012 11:39 PM #4
Mark Loewenberg
KW of the Palm Beaches - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
KW 561-214-0370

dont you have one of those nifty hat with a fan built in? those can bring 145 down to 140 in a heartbeat!

Jul 21, 2012 11:43 PM #5
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi James,

Inspecting attic's can be as brutal as bull riding. Really. You get started just fine then find yourself all beat up from the heat and you just got started. LOL

The last attic I was in the thermometer said it was 138 degrees, crazy. I did'nt stay very long. Took my shots and scidattled. I did a post about a whole house homemade fan a while back. It was similar to your picture. My question is this.

"Why pull hot air from the attic into the home to try and cool it off when the air you are trying to cool the home with air in excess of 130 degrees"?

 Makes no sense. Just a thought.

Have a good day in Ct.

Best, Clint McKie

Jul 22, 2012 01:33 AM #6
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's thinking outside of the box!  Wait, I mean inside of the box.  Well, whatever.  At least they understand the principle!  Then there's the flip side of implimentation.  Hmmmmm.

Jul 22, 2012 10:56 AM #7
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Caron, While it's wacky, I don't see a fire hazard.

Jeanne & Ralph, I doubt it would as well, but it must've been good enough for these homeowners. 

Richard, I'll have to look him up.

Fred, I imagine for you those attics are hot most of the time.

Mark, Nope, but I'll have to get one ;)

Clint, Since you're in the hot southwest I would think you're used to the heat :)

Jay, I agree this is thinking way outside the box and then stuffing that idea back in. 

Jul 22, 2012 09:27 PM #8
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James Quarello

Connecticut Home Inspector
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