Home improvement (projects...)

Spring is sprung, summer’s on the way, and my wife and I are talking house projects. Here’s two we’re considering. I don’t want to start a thread for each. Any advice is appreciated, and if anyone else has minor home improvement questions, feel free to stick them in this thread.

  1. Wireless intercoms. Our house is a 2 story, plus a finished basement. It’s hard to communicate from one level to the next, and especially to the basement. What I’d like is a simple wireless intercom system, where a person can walk to an intercom, press a button, and broadcast to any other intercom systems in the house. The person on the other hand might be busy, but ideally wouldn’t need to walk over to the 2nd intercom system to talk back - they could just talk/yell in the general direction of the receiver - i.e. the first person holds the channel open - the other(s) don’t need to press a button. Is this how they work? Anybody use and like any particular models?

  2. Attic fan. I work in an upstairs bedroom, and during the day, the temperature can be about 10-15 degrees warmer than the overall house temperature. Even with the central A/C set at 72, it can reach mid 80s up here. I have a window A/C for this room, but it’s loud.

We have a dark roof on our house, and the attic space gets really hot. I suspect that this is creating an effect rather like a blanket on the rooms upstairs (right below the attic). The attic has a couple of vents, but no fan or anything. Can I get a fan put in the attic, and will this make a noticeable difference in the temperatures upstairs? Ideally, I’d like the fan to be either temperature sensitive (only kick in on hot days), or controlled by remote within the main part of the house. The blanket effect is probably a net positive during the winter - it’s only during hot summer days that I’m bothered.

If you have proper insulation up there, you shouldn’t be getting that effect. It seems more likely that you are just experiencing the heat rises/cold air sinks effect common in two story houses. You might want to at least get some quick advice before you invest in an attic fan (get a free estimate from an AC/heating guy and tell him what you are planning…you don’t have to hire him).

Putting in an attic fan will make a huge difference, even with good insulation. I had the same problem as you with upstairs rooms being really hot with heat radiating through the ceiling from the attic once the insulation was heat-saturated in the summer (our attic has R-40 insulation too). I put a fan in last summer into an existing roof vent. Got it at Home Depot for about 130 bucks. It is thermostatically controlled, and I set it to 100F for the kick on. It’s very quiet too, so I can never hear it running. Before I installed it, I put a wireless thermometer up there, and the attic space was reaching 135-140F during August. After I installed the fan, it only gets up to about 105F, but the upstairs rooms are now much cooler. Another perk is that keeping at area cooler adds lifespan to your shingles and roof decking.

The trick to the fan is to size it properly. If you get a fan too big for the intake load, you will draw air from inside the house to cool the attic (it will pull it around the attic door, and around electric sockets), and that’s not what you want. Figure your attic space in cubic feet and how many intake vents you have. There are calculators online that can take that input and figure out what size fan in CFM you should install.

Get a regular floor fan for the attic, Phil. Plug it in and crank it up. All you need is for the air to be moving past you and your area to get a little micro-wind chill effect going on.

This $30 home improvement tip brought to you by shift6: “if it costs more than a C-note, you’re doing something wrong!”

Countermeasure - did you install it yourself? I’m a little scared of roof projects - if I don’t get the seal right or whatnot.

I just measured with a thermometer. Today it’s about 78 outside in the shade (83 according to the national weather service). My central A/C is set for 72. My upstairs office is around 80. The attic is around 105. It gets worse as the outside temperature gets hotter.

Yep, I installed it and wired it up to an outlet the home builders put in the attic. I put a lightswitch inline so I can kill the power to it if I need to without needing to flip the breaker it is on and killing the outlet and the lights in the attic.

The complete install only took about an hour with the wiring included because my attic already had two round vents up at the peak, and the fan fit perfectly into one. It seems that they are made to a standard size no matter the vent maker, so if you already have vents, you may get by the same way I did. I didn’t have to venture out on my roof to cut a hole for a new vent, even though the fan included the vent as well. I just put heavy plastic sheeting over the underside of the other vent so the fan would draw air from the soffet vents.

The fan came with instructions to install it yourself and a template for the hole as well. I browsed those instructions over, and it didn’t look like that much work. For the most part is was cut the 16in hole, apply roof sealant to bottom of vent base, and slide the vent base under the shingles above it. I couldn’t imagine that it would more than 2 hours of handyman rates in time to come install it for you if you rather go that route.

If you have the proper vent putting in the fan isn’t that huge a job - you can get some where the actual fan unit is outside the house witha duct going inside, that way you’ll get all the benefits but none of the noise (you still control it from the inside by temperature or manually).

Me, I’m totally renovating the downstairs bathroom and learning a lot of stuff on the way (can’t wait to get started on the upstairs bathroom, where I’ll do everything right thr first time). I’m finally finishing the tiling and painting, now I’m putting up the ceiling.

After that there’s som many small and big projects to do thet my weekends will be filled for the years to come… I thought I bought a home, but I really bought a very expensive hobby.

Are these just called attic fans? I asked the guy at Home Depot about them and he didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.

That’s what they were called when I looked. In the store here, they were over next to the shingles and garble vents. I searched their website, but didn’t find anything, but I did find a hit at Lowe’s website. http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=142670-228-RV28BR&lpage=none

Of course, you may have hit the fun side of Home Depot’s EOE program. I did go in there one time looking for a very specific type of nail as required for some joist hangars they sold when building my porch. The guy working in the nail area there told me that such a nail didn’t exist, and he had been there 7 years, and never seen such a product. I ended up finding the nails over by said joist hangars, and grabbed a bucket and a box of them. I found him a few minutes later, casually lobbed the box in his direction and said “I guess 7 years isn’t enough, asshole.”

Folks, you should always shop at Lowe’s, if you have the option. Home Depot seems to understaff and undertrain.


I try not to shop at Lowe’s because their lumber is total crap compared to what I can get from Home Depot.

#1- isn’t this the point of having a large/multi story home- to hide/avoid the wife?
otherwise use your cell phone.

Other than this guy having no idea what an attic fan was, I always have better luck at Home Depot.

Must be regional, then. You can stand for twenty minutes in a Home Depot without seeing an employee, at Lowe’s they follow you around trying to help.