Having an attic fan is beneficial not just for the attic area but for your entire home. Controlling heat and humidity in your attic can reduce your power bill and make materials like insulation last longer. But what if something goes wrong with your attic fan?
There are various types of attic fans. While you might come across an attic fan designed with a manual reset button, most do not have them. But if you run into issues with your attic fan and there is no reset button to help, there are still some fixes you can try.
This article will focus on what can go wrong with attic fans and what to do when such things happen.
What Is an Attic Fan, and Why Are They Useful?
An attic might seem like an odd place for a fan unless you have turned it into a bedroom, gym, or another type of living area. Attic fans are different from typical fans you find inside the rest of your home.
Attic fans are designed specifically for the attic. The primary purpose of an attic fan is to act as an air conditioner and control the heat by getting rid of hot air.
Attic vents are essential for this to work: Cool air must make its way in while hot air gets ejected through exhaust vents.
Attic fans can either be placed on a rooftop or mounted on a gable. A gable is a triangular wall formed by a sloping roof.
Generally, attic fans are turned on by a manual switch or automatically come on when a thermostat detects heat at a predetermined thermostat setting.
Most manufacturers do not bother with reset buttons. But you can troubleshoot your air conditioning fan unit if it stops working.
Note: Before going to the attic to reset your fan, ensure it is properly lit to avoid accidents in the dark.
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Common Problems with Attic Fans and How to Reset Them
Some of the most common problems with attic fans include the fan blades not moving despite a humming sound, the unit running much harder than it should, or the unit not working at all.
Here is a closer look at these issues with an attic fan and what you can do about them.
Fan Blades Won’t Move Despite Humming Sound
If you can hear a humming sound coming from your fan but it fails to spin, there is a serious issue with the motor—specifically, the motor’s capacitor is most likely faulty.
Turn the fan on and try to spin the blades by pushing them lightly. If the fan spins with a push, it is almost certainly the capacitor. If the fan does not spin but the humming continues, the motor’s winding is to blame.
If the capacitor is causing the humming, then you are in luck. It is an easy fix and a cheap part to replace. However, if the motor itself has broken down, you will need a new attic fan entirely. A motor shop probably won’t be able to do much for you.
Attic Fan Running Too Hard
Attic fans should not run so hard that you can hear them downstairs. But they can get very loud if there are loose parts or the blades are unbalanced.
Some attic fans have belt drives and end up sounding louder than usual because of worn-out bearings. A lack of maintenance usually causes this. To reset the fan, you have to replace these bearings.
You cannot balance unbalanced blades. If your attic fan is new, you should take it back for a replacement. You will need a new attic fan if it is old and out of warranty.
Attic Fan Not Working At All
If your attic fan is not working at all, it could be either because of a faulty controller or a broken-down fan motor. Determining which of the two issues is to blame will take some effort.
The first thing you should do is check the circuit breakers. Make sure that none are turned off. If all the circuit breakers are on, you should focus on the thermostat.
To avoid injury from being shocked, place a non-contact voltage sensor on the wire to verify whether the controller is getting power.
If the controller is getting power, the temperature setting might be too high to get the fan going. Turn it all the way down with a screwdriver to try to force the attic fan to turn on. If that does not reset the fan, the issue most likely has to do with a bad motor.
The most common problem with attic fan motors is that the bearings get seized, and there is no way to fix or reset that. You will have to replace the entire unit.
Attic fans do not generally have reset buttons. When something goes wrong, it is usually the motor, the controller, the blades, or the power supply. In each case, the steps above should be handy in fixing your attic fan right up.