Whole House Fan and Reversed Draft

This forum is for common products and questions such as chimney installations, CO detectors, coal bin designs and a variety of other general topics that do not fit into the other forums.
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lsayre
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 3:05 pm

My wife cranked up the whole house fan yesterday without opening windows and fortunately at the time I was near the boiler room and in the basement, as I immediately noticed a sulfur odor, and when I checked I saw that the chimneys draft had reversed. By the time my wife had turned the fan off the digital CO meter in the boiler room was already reading 13. Chimney draft immediately returned to normal when she shut the whole house fan off. We opened all of the windows and doors at that point, and the CO detectors upstairs never rose above zero.

Lesson learned that if the whole house fan is running plenty of windows and screen doors need to be open on all levels so it doesn't reverse the draft of the chimney. In fact, I'm questioning if even then it will be wise to run the whole house fan.
-Larry

Democracy rests upon the principle that collective wisdom arises from a pool of individual ignorance. A Republic rests squarely upon objective law, and fundamentally upon those laws which restrict the scope and actions of government.


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northernmainecoal
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 3:12 pm

Glad you were right there and everyone is safe!
What exactly is a whole house fan?
Rob

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lsayre
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 3:25 pm

northernmainecoal wrote:Glad you were right there and everyone is safe!
What exactly is a whole house fan?
It's a louvered fan which exhausts into the attic and cools the whole house down. It's a substantial fan. The windows and screen doors were mostly closed because it was raining cats and dogs outside.

The reason why I was in the basement is that for 2 hours straight the tornado sirens were going off on our street (we live right across from the Township Hall) and also in the communities to both the north and south of us. When the warning was lifted my wife (who was also in the basement for 2 hours) immediately said "I'm going upstairs to turn the whole house fan on to cool it down in here", and I stayed behind in the basement as she went up and turned it on.
Last edited by lsayre on Tue. May. 13, 2014 3:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
-Larry

Democracy rests upon the principle that collective wisdom arises from a pool of individual ignorance. A Republic rests squarely upon objective law, and fundamentally upon those laws which restrict the scope and actions of government.

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lsayre
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Location: N/E Ohio, between Medina and Wadsworth

Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 3:32 pm

The manometer indicated draft was -0.03" to -0.04" and it reversed to +0.01" when the whole house fan was turned on.
-Larry

Democracy rests upon the principle that collective wisdom arises from a pool of individual ignorance. A Republic rests squarely upon objective law, and fundamentally upon those laws which restrict the scope and actions of government.

rberq
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 3:58 pm

I used to worry about running the clothes dryer for the same reason, though obviously it is a much smaller fan, so I would open the laundry room window. But apparently my house is so leaky that the draft was going OUT the window rather than in. No sick house syndrome here, just lots of fresh air. :o
Simple answers for simple minds.

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Rob R.
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 4:26 pm

Larry, do you have a vent in the boiler room for make up air?

Also, do you have a cover made for that whole house fan so it doesn't "ventilate" your house in the winter?

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Sting
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 4:34 pm

Rob R. wrote:Larry, do you have a vent in the boiler room for make up air?
Any vent of logical size to feed combustion air to an appliance would be vastly overwhelmed by a Whole House fan. Even a combination of [comparatively small] bath and stove fans can offset appliance draft. Many open windows is the only solution.
When you turn your boiler on -Does it return the favor?
I have finally lost my mind. Don't bother to return it. It wasn't working properly anyway!

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McGiever
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 5:23 pm

It isn't pretty when a whole house fan is turned on in the winter with a open fireplace burning.
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE


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lsayre
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 5:44 pm

Rob R. wrote:Larry, do you have a vent in the boiler room for make up air?

Also, do you have a cover made for that whole house fan so it doesn't "ventilate" your house in the winter?
I still need to get outside air into the boiler room. Right now it is wide open to the basement, but I would like to close it off from the basement.

The whole house fan has louvers that close when it isn't running. Perhaps I should cover the louvers up with plastic sheeting during the winter.
Last edited by lsayre on Tue. May. 13, 2014 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
-Larry

Democracy rests upon the principle that collective wisdom arises from a pool of individual ignorance. A Republic rests squarely upon objective law, and fundamentally upon those laws which restrict the scope and actions of government.

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Rob R.
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Location: Chazy, NY

Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 6:02 pm

Sting wrote:
Rob R. wrote:Larry, do you have a vent in the boiler room for make up air?
Any vent of logical size to feed combustion air to an appliance would be vastly overwhelmed by a Whole House fan. Even a combination of [comparatively small] bath and stove fans can offset appliance draft. Many open windows is the only solution.
Yep...but this still seemed like a good time to mention make up air.

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Rick 386
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 7:22 pm

lsayre wrote:
I still need to get outside air into the boiler room. Right now it is wide open to the basement, but I would like to close it off from the basement...................................
Larry,

Can you seal off the basement door from the first floor ?? That way you can provide make up air in the basement for the boiler only. Sealing the door would prevent the draw extending into the basement. Or at least severely limit it.

Our old twin farmhouse has 2 doors open to the basement from inside each side of the upstairs and also 2 bilco doors on either end of the basement. They do not seal real tight either. We do run a large about 18" diameter fan in the 2nd floor window at the top of the stairs. We rarely see a backflow on the flue.

I have mentioned on here several times before that at my old shop whenever I would turn on the spraybooth fan, it would backdraft both the coal and oil burner flues. Only solution was to fully open the far shop window. And I was using a 24" fan attached to a 1/2 hp motor. Yeah it did draw some air !!!!!

Rick
Master of "Trial and Error."

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coalkirk
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 8:07 pm

lsayre wrote:In fact, I'm questioning if even then it will be wise to run the whole house fan.
I think you answered your own question. Whole house fans and combustion appliances don't play nice together.
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Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 8:16 pm

We ran a whole house fan for years (before I installed central air) with no issues. I have make up air for my boiler, and the boiler room has a door on it as well. The space where my whole house fan lived is now the return air for my air handling unit in the attic.

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lsayre
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Location: N/E Ohio, between Medina and Wadsworth

Post Tue. May. 13, 2014 8:22 pm

Rick 386 wrote:
Larry,

Can you seal off the basement door from the first floor ?? That way you can provide make up air in the basement for the boiler only. Sealing the door would prevent the draw extending into the basement. Or at least severely limit it.

Rick
I can shut the door at the top of the stairs coming up from the basement. With a window open in the basement, and windows open upstairs, and the door closed between the basement and the upstairs, it should bode better for the whole house fan.
-Larry

Democracy rests upon the principle that collective wisdom arises from a pool of individual ignorance. A Republic rests squarely upon objective law, and fundamentally upon those laws which restrict the scope and actions of government.

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Sting
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Post Wed. May. 14, 2014 7:41 am

Rob R. wrote:Yep...but this still seemed like a good time to mention make up air.
and an excellent opportune moment , it was sir Image
When you turn your boiler on -Does it return the favor?
I have finally lost my mind. Don't bother to return it. It wasn't working properly anyway!


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