Ice dams can be a major headache for homeowners during winter months. Over time, snow accumulates on the roof and then melts and refreezes. This process can cause damage to the roof, gutters, and walls and even lead to water damage inside the home. That is why it is essential to take preventative measures to avoid ice dams. Preventing ice dams on your roof is like putting a cozy winter hat on your home.

In 2023, the winter weather is expected to be wetter. The wetness turns into ice with fluctuating temperatures and back into water more frequently than ever.

Here is a list of ice dam prevention products, their purpose, and knowing when you need professional services.

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Roofing Materials

The first line of defense against ice dams is proper roofing materials. Here are some materials that can help prevent ice dams:

Proper Insulation and Ventilation

Good insulation and ventilation in the attic can help regulate the roof’s temperature and prevent the snow from melting in the first place. Inadequate insulation can cause warm air to escape from the house and heat the roof, melting the snow and leading to ice dams. Ventilation is also essential because it helps remove warm, moist air from the attic, reducing the likelihood of melting snow.

Ice and Water Shield Underlayment

An ice and water shield is a membrane installed underneath the shingles on the roof. It creates a watertight barrier that can prevent water from penetrating the roof in the event of an ice dam or other water infiltration.

Our Favorite Underlayment:

We tested Grace Ice & Water Shield HT, a roofing underlayment made for high temperature environments. It impressed us with its performance and durability. It has a rubberized asphalt adhesive that adheres firmly to the roof deck and a polymeric film that resists UV damage. It also has a Ripcord feature that makes it easy to apply in tricky areas. We think this is a great product for anyone who needs a reliable and long-lasting roofing underlayment.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is a good option for preventing ice dams because it is less likely to accumulate snow than other roofing materials. Snow slides off the smooth surface of the metal roof more quickly than it does on a shingled roof.

Gutter and Downspout Products

Gutters and downspouts are other areas where ice dams can form. The following products can help prevent ice dams in these areas:

Heated Gutter Cables

Heated gutter cables are a popular way to prevent ice dams in gutters. They are installed on the roof and gutters and heat up to melt any ice forming. You can turn these on and off, saving energy and money.

Our Favorite Gutter Cables:

We tested the Frost King roof and gutter cables, a product that prevents ice from damaging roofs and gutters. The kit contained everything we needed to install the cables, including spacers, clips, and instructions.

We found the installation process to be straightforward. The cables prevented ice from building up in the gutters and forming ice dams under the shingles. They also helped to melt the snow faster and prevent leaks. We recommend this product to anyone who lives in a cold climate and wants to protect their roof and gutters from ice damage. It’s a smart investment that can save you a lot of trouble and money in the long run.

Gutter Guards

Gutter guards are screens or other types of coverings installed over gutters. They prevent leaves and debris from getting into the gutters, which can lead to clogs and ice dams. Also, some gutter guards help melt ice and snow.

Our Favorite Gutter Guards:

We recommend Raptor Gutter Guard for its durability, efficiency and eco-friendliness. It is made from aluminum and stainless steel that resist rust and damage. It fits any gutter and roof type and is easy to install. It filters out debris and contaminants from rainwater using V-Bend, trough and extrusion technologies. It is ideal for rainwater harvesting and self-cleaning. It comes with a 25-year warranty and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Raptor Gutter Guard is a quality product that protects your home and your water.

Downspout Extensions

Downspout extensions are an easy and inexpensive way to prevent ice dams. They extend the downspouts’ length so that the gutter directs the water away from the house. The downspout prevents water from pooling and freezing at the house’s base, which can cause ice dams.

Attic Products

As mentioned earlier, proper insulation and ventilation in the attic can prevent ice dams. Here are some other attic products that can help prevent ice dams:

Attic Insulation

Attic insulation can help regulate the roof’s temperature and prevent the snow from melting. It is essential to have enough insulation in the attic to prevent warm air from escaping from the house and heating the roof.

Attic Ventilation

Attic ventilation is essential because it helps remove warm, moist air from the attic, reducing the likelihood of melting snow. It can also prevent condensation from forming in the attic, which can cause mold and other moisture problems.

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Attic Door Cover

An attic door cover is a simple product that can prevent heat loss and keep warm air in the house. A cover is installed over the attic door, creating an air seal and preventing warm air from escaping.

Miscellaneous Products

In addition to the roofing materials, gutter and downspout products, and attic products discussed earlier, several miscellaneous products can help prevent ice dams.

Roof Rake

A roof rake is a long-handled tool to remove snow from the roof. It is handy for preventing ice dams because it allows you to remove snow before it can melt and refreeze. Using a roof rake, you can keep the roof surface clear of snow and prevent the formation of ice dams.

Our Favorite Roof Rake:

We highly recommend the SnowPeeler for efficient and effective snow removal from rooftops. With its sturdy design, the SnowPeeler is ideal for homeowners who prioritize safety, as it allows for snow removal from the ground with stable footing, reducing the risk of accidents. Its unique design and reliable performance set it apart from other rakes in the market.

Calcium Chloride Ice Melt

Calcium chloride ice melt is a chemical product designed to melt ice and snow. You or someone else can spread it on the roof and gutters to melt any ice forming. This product is beneficial for preventing ice dams in areas where heated gutter cables are not practical.

Snow and Ice Melting Systems

Snow and ice melting systems prevent ice dams from melting any snow or ice forming on the roof or gutters. Professionals can install these systems underneath the roofing material or in the gutters and downspouts. They work by heating the surface and melting any snow or ice forming.

Professional Services

If you’re not comfortable tackling ice dam prevention on your own, several professional services can help:

Roof and Gutter Inspections

Roof and gutter inspections are an excellent way to identify potential problem areas before they become full-blown ice dams. A professional inspector can identify areas where insulation, ventilation, or other materials needs replacement to prevent ice dams.

Ice Dam Removal Services

If you already have an ice dam, removing it as soon as possible is essential to prevent further damage. Ice dam removal services use specialized equipment and techniques to remove ice dams from the roof and gutters safely.


Ice dams can cause significant damage to your home if left unchecked. The ultimate list of ice dam prevention products includes various materials and services to help prevent ice dams from forming.

Proper roofing materials, gutter and downspout products, attic products, and miscellaneous products like a roof rake or calcium chloride ice melt can help prevent ice dams from forming.

Suppose you need to be more comfortable tackling ice dam prevention. In that case, professional services like roof and gutter inspections and ice dam removal services can help. It’s essential to take action to prevent ice dams and protect your home from the damage they can cause.


What can I put on the roof to prevent ice dams?

To prevent ice dams on a roof, you can install proper insulation and ventilation in the attic to keep heat from escaping and melting snow on the roof. You can also apply a high-quality ice and water barrier to the roof deck before installing shingles to prevent water from penetrating through the roof. Another choice is to install heating cables on the roof to melt snow and ice before they can form dams. However, this is generally not a preferred option.

How do you prevent ice dams in an old house?

To prevent ice dams in an old house, you can improve insulation and ventilation in the attic to keep heat from escaping and melting snow on the roof. To reduce heat loss, seal air leaks in the attic, including around vents and chimneys. The other option is to install heat tape or a similar system on the roof to melt ice and snow before they can form into dams. However, this is generally not the preferred solution as it can be expensive to run and may cause further damage to the roof.

Does insurance cover ice dams?

Whether insurance covers ice dams depends on your policy and the specific circumstances of the damage. In general, damage caused by an ice dam may be covered by homeowners’ insurance if it results in water damage to the home’s interior. However, coverage may be limited or excluded if the damage results from poor maintenance or neglect. It’s best to check with your insurance provider to understand the specific terms of your policy.

Does spray foam prevent ice dams?

Spray foam insulation can help prevent ice dams by reducing the heat that escapes from the living space into the attic, which can cause snow on the roof to melt and refreeze. However, spray foam alone may not be enough to prevent ice dams. Proper ventilation and air sealing are also important factors. It’s best to consult a professional to assess your home’s insulation and ventilation needs.

Is ice damming the roofer’s fault?

Ice damming is not necessarily the roofer’s fault, as several factors, including poor insulation and ventilation in the attic, air leaks, and weather conditions can cause it. However, suppose the roofer did not correctly install the roofing materials or address any pre-existing issues with the roof. In that case, they may be partially responsible for any resulting ice dams. The specific circumstances would need to be evaluated to figure out liability.

Attic fans can be a real breeze when it comes to keeping your home cool and your spirits high. Like any other machine, attics fans can fail, and it is essential to know when it happens.

Let’s discuss the importance of attic fans, the signs that your attic fan is not working, and how you can fix it.

Key Takeaways

  • Attic fans help reduce energy bills, improve indoor air quality, and extend the lifespan of your roof and insulation.
  • Signs that your attic fan is not working include: a fan motor running but the blades do not move, little to no airflow, an increase in temperature in the attic, excessive humidity in the attic, dust buildup, loud noise, and a burning smell from the attic fan.
  • Four steps to diagnose the problem are to check the electrical connection, inspect the fan blades, check the thermostat, and examine the ducts and vents.
  • Regular maintenance of the attic fan includes cleaning and replacing the fan blades, checking the wiring connections, and inspecting the ducts and vents for any damage

7 Signs That Your Attic Fan is Not Working

Sometimes machines break down with no warning. Here are seven signs that your attic fan is not functioning correctly:

  1. Fan Motor Runs, but Blades Do Not Move: If the fan motor is running, but the blades are not moving, there could be a problem with the fan blades or the engine itself.
  2. Little to No Airflow: If you are not getting any significant airflow from your attic fan, it could be due to a clogged duct or a problem with the fan motor.
  3. Increase in temperature in the attic: If you notice that the temperature in your attic has increased significantly, it could be a sign that your attic fan is not working.
  4. Really Humid: Excessive humidity in your attic can indicate that your attic fan is not working correctly.
  5. Dust Buildup: If there is an accumulation of dust and debris in your attic, it could be a sign that your attic fan is not working.
  6. Attic Fan Making Loud Noise: If your attic fan makes a loud noise, it could indicate a problem with the fan motor or blades.
  7. Burning Smell from Attic Fan: If you smell a burning odor from your attic fan, it could be a sign of a severe electrical issue, and it is essential to turn off the fan immediately.

Diagnosing the Problem Further:

It’s essential to start with the basics to diagnose the problem with your attic fan. Here are four steps to help you identify the issue:

Check the Electrical Connection

  1. Before beginning, turn off the power by turning off the circuit breaker or unplugging the fan.
  2. Locate the wiring connections near the fan motor or junction box and inspect them for looseness, damage, or loss.
  3. Tighten any loose connections by hand but be careful not to over-tighten them.
  4. If you find any damage, replace the wires or connections with the help of a professional electrician, as electrical work can be dangerous for those unfamiliar with proper safety procedures.
  5. After the inspection, you can turn the power back on.

Inspect the Fan Blades

  1. Turn the power off to the fan.
  2. Locate the fan blades on the fan motor.
  3. If the fan blades are not moving, inspect them for any visible damage, such as cracks, chips, or bent blades. Also, you should ensure no debris blocking the fan blades, such as insulation, dust, or cobwebs, can accumulate on the blades and prevent them from rotating properly. Do not use any abrasive materials, as this could damage the blades.
  4. After this process, you can turn the power back on.

Check the Thermostat

The thermostat is typically located near the fan motor or junction box and is connected to the fan wiring, controlling its operation.

  1. Before testing, make sure you set the thermostat to the correct temperature.
  2. To test the thermostat, use a multimeter to measure the voltage at the connections and observe if it changes with the temperature.
  3. If the voltage does not change, you may need to replace the thermostat. If the voltage changes but the fan still doesn’t turn on, check the wiring connections at the thermostat to ensure they are tight and secure.
  4. If the connections are secure and the thermostat still does not work, it may need to be replaced.

As with electrical work, it is best to seek the assistance of a professional electrician if you need help.

Examine the Ducts and Vents

The ducts and vents are typically located near the fan and connected to it through flexible ductwork.

  1. Turn the power off.
  2. To diagnose potential issues, look for obstructions blocking airflow, such as insulation, debris, or bird nests.
  3. Remove the obstructions using a long-handled brush or vacuum cleaner.
  4. Also, inspect the ducts and vents for any signs of damage, such as cracks, holes, or tears, and repair or replace them if necessary.
  5. After clearing the obstructions and checking for damage, ensure the ducts and vents correctly ventilate the attic so that air can flow freely through them.
  6. Turn the power back on.

Maintenance Tips for Your Attic Fan

It is crucial to perform regular maintenance to keep your attic fan working correctly. Here are some tips for maintaining your attic fan:

  1. Cleaning the fan blades: Dust and debris can accumulate on the fan blades over time, decreasing the fan’s efficiency. Clean the blades regularly with a soft cloth to remove any buildup.
  2. Replacing the fan blades: Over time, the fan blades may become damaged or worn. If this occurs, replacing them as soon as possible is essential to ensure that the fan continues to work effectively.
  3. Lubricating the motor: The motor powers the fan, so it is vital to keep it lubricated to reduce friction and wear. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the type of lubricant and how often you should apply it.
  4. Checking the wiring: The wiring that powers the fan should be checked regularly to ensure it is in good condition and properly connected. If there are any frayed or broken wires, they will need to be repaired or replaced.

When to Call a Professional

While a homeowner can do some essential maintenance and repairs, there are some situations where it is best to call a professional. Do not be afraid to call a profession regardless!

Complex electrical issues: If you are having trouble with the electrical connection or the thermostat, it is best to call a professional. An electrician can diagnose and repair the problem more efficiently than a homeowner.

Serious structural problems: If your attic has serious structural issues, such as a leak or damage to the roof, it is best to call a professional. A contractor can assess the damage and make any necessary repairs.

Inadequate insulation: If your attic needs adequate insulation, it can be easier for the fan to circulate air effectively. A professional can assess the insulation and make recommendations for improvement.

Inefficient fan design: If your attic fan is not designed to meet your specific needs, it may not work as effectively. A professional can assess your needs and recommend a more efficient fan.


Regular checks and maintenance can help keep the attic fan running smoothly and prevent costly repairs while also improving the comfort and health of your home.

Suppose you encounter complex electrical issues, severe structural problems, inadequate insulation, or inefficient fan design. In that case, it’s best to seek the help of a professional for proper repair and maintenance.

Regularly check the performance of your attic fan to ensure it is working correctly. By following these steps, you can understand the signs of a faulty fan, such as increased temperature, lack of airflow, and strange noises.


What is an Attic Fan?

An attic fan is an exhaust fan installed on the roof or ceiling of your attic. Its purpose is to remove hot air and moisture from your attic, creating a more comfortable living environment for you and your family. Attic fans come in several types, including belt-driven, direct-driven, and solar-powered. Each type has its benefits. So, choosing one best suited to your needs is essential.

The benefits of using attic fans include reduced energy bills, improved indoor air quality, and extended lifespan of your roof and insulation. Attic fans also help prevent moisture buildup, which can cause mold, mildew, and other structural problems.

How do I know if my attic fan is running?

To check if your attic fan is working, listen for its sound or feel for airflow in the attic. A steady flow of air from the vents or louvers indicates the fan is functioning. Some attic fans have a thermostat or humidistat that automatically turns them on. Also, check the power source and inspect the fan for visible signs of movement or vibration.

Do attic fans turn on automatically?

Some attic fans come equipped with a thermostat or humidistat that automatically turns them on when the temperature or humidity in the attic reaches a certain level. However, not all attic fans have this feature, and they may require manual operation. Additionally, the automatic feature can be turned off or overridden.

What temperature should an attic fan come on?

The ideal temperature for an attic fan to come on will depend on factors such as the climate and insulation of the attic space. As a general rule, attic fans should come on when the temperature in the attic reaches around 100°F to 110°F (38°C to 43°C) to help prevent heat buildup and reduce the load on air conditioning units. However, some attic fans come equipped with a thermostat that you can adjust to suit your preferences.

Does an attic fan bring in outside air?

Attic fans are designed to expel hot air from the attic but may also draw in outside air to replace the vented air. The amount of outdoor air brought in will depend on factors such as the fan’s design and installation and the attic space’s ventilation. Some attic fans are designed to work in tandem with soffit or roof vents to help facilitate airflow through the attic.

How do you make sure your attic is properly ventilated?

To ensure your attic is adequately ventilated, you should inspect the existing ventilation system to ensure it is functioning correctly and not obstructed. Adequate ventilation can be achieved through intake vents (such as soffit or gable vents) and exhaust vents (such as ridge vents or attic fans) that facilitate airflow. Additionally, adding insulation to the attic floor can help prevent heat transfer and reduce the need for excessive ventilation.

Winter weather can bring many problems for homeowners, including the dreaded ice dam.

These masses of ice can cause damage to roofs, gutters, and even the interior of your home. While there are many misconceptions about preventing ice dams, one solution that should be considered is using an attic fan.

In this article, we’ll explore the role of attic fans in preventing ice dams, what they can and cannot do to prevent them, and how they can be used in conjunction with other products for added protection.

The Honest Truth

Yes, an attic fan can help prevent ice dams. But it’s not that simple.

Attic ventilation plays an important role in preventing ice dams by circulating air throughout the attic and removing excess heat.

However, it’s important to note that proper insulation, air sealing, regular roof and gutter maintenance, and snow removal are also crucial for preventing ice dams and ensuring the attic fan does what it needs to.

What Are Ice Dams?

Ice dams are a common problem for homeowners in areas with cold winters.

They form when heat from the attic melts the bottom layer of snow on the roof, causing the water to run down to the colder eaves, where it refreezes. This process creates a buildup of ice along the roof’s edge, forming a dam.

The dam prevents further melting snow from flowing off the roof, which can cause the water to back up and leak into the home through the attic or walls. Ice dams can also cause damage to the shingles and gutters and increase the risk of falling icicles.

They typically appear as a significant ice buildup along the roof’s edge, often hanging over the gutters. They can be challenging to remove, and homeowners may need to hire professionals to remove them safely.

To prevent ice dams, homeowners should air seal, insulate and ventilate their attics to keep them closer to the outside temperatures. Additionally, snow should be removed from the roof to prevent ice buildup.

The Role of Attic Ventilation in Preventing Ice Dams

Proper attic ventilation plays a vital role in preventing ice dams. 

Attic ventilation helps keep the attic cool, preventing snow on the roof from melting and refreezing at the eaves. 

An attic fan can be an effective tool in this regard, as it can help to circulate air throughout the attic and remove excess heat. 

However, it’s important to note that proper insulation and air sealing are crucial for preventing ice dams.

The average attic fan moves between 900 and 1500 CFM (cubic feet per minute). This means it can move a significant amount of air through your attic.

The attic fan should be sized based on the square footage of the attic space and the type of ventilation system already in place.

Air sealing is also important to prevent warm air from entering the attic, which can contribute to ice dam formation.

Additional Methods for Added Protection

While an attic fan is an important piece of the puzzle, it is not a miracle worker for preventing ice dams. Other methods include:

  • Seal air leaks: Sealing air leaks around the attic floor can help to prevent warm air from entering the attic and melting the snow on the roof.
  • Proper insulation: Insulation helps to keep the heat in your home from rising into the attic, which can also prevent snow from melting and refreezing.
  • Regular roof and gutter maintenance: Keeping your roof and gutters clean and in good condition can help to prevent ice dams from forming.
  • Snow removal: Carefully removing snow from the roof can also help to prevent ice dams, but it should be done with caution to avoid damaging the roof. Using a roof rake to remove snow from the roof can also help to prevent ice dams, it should be done with caution to avoid damaging the roof.
  • Keep the inside temperature consistent: Keeping the temperature inside the house consistent can help to prevent warm air from entering the attic, which can melt the snow on the roof.


In conclusion, an attic fan is essential for preventing ice dams. When used in conjunction with proper insulation, air sealing, regular roof and gutter maintenance, and snow removal, it can be a powerful solution for protecting your home from the damage caused by ice dams. Awareness of the misconceptions about preventing ice dams from making informed decisions about protecting your home is essential.

Attic fans are used to reduce the air temperature in attic spaces. These fans extend your roof’s life and inhibit the circulation of moldy bacteria-infected air throughout your home.

Inadequate ventilation can lead to a buildup of heat and moisture in your attic, leading to higher operating costs and a toll on your roof. 

Installing an attic fan will help protect the exterior and interior of your home by reducing temperatures and humidity levels in your attic space. They push hot air out of your home while drawing cool air into your attic. Fans are installed on the roof or wall of your attic and are electric, turbine, or solar-powered. 

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Even if your roof already has ridge vents and plenty of built-in ventilation, installing gable fans or roof fans is an excellent idea to help blow hot, humid air out of the attic. 

Before buying a fan, you must decide whether a powered or turbine-style one is best for you. Turbine fans use no energy and rely on the heat rising inside the attic and gentle winds to turn it and vent the attic space. 

Powered attic vent fans need an electrical source of energy that comes either from your home electric system, a solar panel that is mounted on top of the roof unit, or a separate panel for gable-mounted solar attic fans.

  • Fan Energy Source – Electric, solar or turbine.
  • Mounting Location – Roof-mounted or gable-mounted.
  • Controls and Features – Some fans have a built-in thermostat, others have a thermostat, and a humidistat, which monitors the humidity level. 

The size of the unit you purchase is based on the size of the attic space itself. Larger attics will require more significant, more powerful fans. The measure of a fan’s power is called CFM or cubic feet per minute. For example, a 1,000-square-foot attic may only need a fan rated at 700 to 800 CFM, while a 2,000-square-foot attic would need double (1,400 to 1,600 CFM). The higher the CFM, the higher the price.

Types of Attic Fans

Passive Attic Vents

A passive attic fan can cost as low as $20.00 for the unit. You can expect installation to cost about $75-$250. Passive attic fans don’t draw on electricity or any other power source, making them highly cost-effective. However, you can’t connect a passive attic fan to a thermostat, which means you have no control over when and how it operates and can’t accurately regulate the temperature in the attic.

Electric-Powered Attic Fans

Electric-powered fans connect to a thermostat giving you control over the attic’s temperature. However, it needs to be installed by an electrician. The cost typically runs from $100-$1000, depending on your unit and where it’s to be mounted. The thermostat tells the fan when to start/stop so your home stays comfortably cool, even on the hottest days. Because it draws power, an electric fan can increase your electric bill, so look for energy and cost-efficient options.  

Solar-Powered Attic Fans

The typical solar attic fan installation costs about $300 to $1,300, fully installed. While more expensive than electric ones, they cost nothing to operate once installed. Solar-powered attic fans also qualify for federal tax credits. While this is pricier than many other attic fans, solar models are super efficient because they use the sun’s energy instead of electricity. A solar attic fan pays for itself quickly in energy savings and is a good choice if you live in a sunny area.

Dual-Powered Attic Fans

Dual-powered attic fans combine electricity and solar power for high-efficiency operation. Depending on the unit, you’ll spend between $300 and $1,300 for installation. The unit primarily relies on solar power, but the electrical option allows it to run with limited or no sun exposure. This premium attic fan uses the sun’s energy as its primary power source. But, if there isn’t enough sunlight to adequately power the fan, it switches to electric power—the best of both worlds.

Roof Turbine

Roof turbines are more efficient than passive fans and cost $100 to $150 to install. They work with your home’s airflow and spin based on air pressure. Because a roof turbine fan doesn’t use electricity, it’s more energy efficient, but again there is no thermostat, so the temperature cannot be controlled. The one drawback is that the water may enter the attic through the turbine in severe rain. If your area is prone to heavy rain or snow, there may be better options than his 

Humidistat and Thermostat

Most powered attic fans come with a thermostat, which controls when the fan turns on and off based on reaching a pre-set temperature. These run around $100 to $300 each, and installation costs around $100. Electric units without a thermostat run between $80 and $100. 

You can buy a separate thermostat/humidistat controller for $40 to $50. Since attics account for up to 20% of the average cooling bill, fans that turn on and off automatically (with the help of a thermostat) are a worthwhile investment. More expensive models include a humidistat as well. 

Attic fans with thermostats protect the home against mold, mildew, peeling paint, decaying shingles, and warped beams/floorboards. 

Attic Fan Cost Factors

The Attic Fan 

For the fan unit itself, you can estimate the following:

  • $50 – $100 | Non-Powered Turbine Style Vent
  • $65 – $150 | Electric Powered Roof or Gable Mounted Fans
  • $120 – $500 | Solar Powered Roof or Gable Vent Fans

Cost of Fan Installation Supplies

Regardless of your chosen model, you will need certain supplies to install it. You will not need electrical supplies for a turbine or solar-powered model. 

  • $35 – $100 | Electrical wire, junction boxes, and an on/off switch. (For electric-powered fans)
  • $10 – $20 | Roof cement or sealant to seal around the mounting location and prevent roof leaks.
  • $15 – $100 | For gable-mounted vents, you’ll want an automatic shutter mounted on the exterior of your home to open when the fan is on.
  • $15 – $50 | Miscellaneous installation supplies like 2×4 wood, screws, nails, wire staples, plywood, etc.

Permits and Inspection 

Powered attic fans are often subject to local laws or regulations and require electrical inspections. This is a safety precaution to ensure that the power is connected correctly and that there is no risk of electrical fires or a circuit overload. Typical inspections cost $75-$200.

Labor Costs

Some companies charge a fixed price for installing attic fans, while others charge an hourly rate per person. Installation may also require the expertise of more than one type of contractor, for example, an electrician and a roofer.

Labor rates vary based on the type of fan to install, the features of your attic and roof, and the contractor’s experience level. A licensed, experienced roofer typically charges between $45 and $150 per hour and will need about 2-3 hours to complete the work. 

If your attic doesn’t have a vent or needs modification to fit a gable-mounted unit, you will need to hire a carpenter. Carpenters charge between $10 and $150 per hour, depending on their experience level. They charge around $70 per hour and need only 2-3 hours. 

You may also need to hire an electrician to connect your electric or solar unit to your home’s electricity source. Wiring takes about an hour at approximately $50 to $150 per hour.

The condition of your attic will also contribute to the installation cost. Contractors may increase their hourly rates if it’s difficult to access your attic. It’s wise to clear some space if you have things stored up there. Areas with a higher cost of living will generally have higher labor costs for attic fan installation.

If moisture has wreaked havoc on the floorboards, your contractor will have to take extra precautions during the installation, potentially making the project take longer and more expensive.

Most pros will perform an initial inspection before they quote the work. 

To estimate the time it will take for the installation, use the following guideline: 

  • 1-2 hours: Replace an existing unit with the same or similar one. 
  • 2-4 hours: Typical installation time for replacements and new attic fans, without needing to add electrical service, wiring, etc.
  • 4-8 hours: Difficult installations or where new electric service needs to be run to the fan. This may require cutting a hole into the roof or the side of the gable. 

Final thoughts: No matter how you look at it or how expensive it is to install, attic fans are significant cost savings and essential to the overall maintenance of your home, inside and out.

Attic fans are a great way to keep your home comfortable and energy-efficient, but to maximize their potential, you need to pay attention to the temperature settings.

The thermostat on your attic fan plays a crucial role in controlling the temperature in your attic and ensuring that your fan works as effectively as possible.

By understanding the optimal temperature settings for your attic fan, you can protect your home and belongings, improve the performance of your HVAC system, and save money on utilities.

This article will delve into the importance of attic fan thermostats and explain why controlling the temperature setting is essential for maintaining a comfortable and energy-efficient home.

What Are Attic Fans?

An attic fan is installed above a living space to pull the air from the floors below.  Attic fans draw hot, moist air out of your attic, creating a vacuum effect that brings fresh, cool air up from your basement and lower floors through your house. Having one creates fresh air and releases stale air that can harbor mold or allergens. It also helps your HVAC system work more efficiently-often, resulting in cost savings on utilities.

It seems counterproductive to add insulation for warmth and then let the cold air in; however, this is essential for, and the key to, an energy-efficient home. In winter, keeping the attic cold can prevent freezing gutters or ice damming. In summer, the natural flow of air in a well-vented attic removes hot air from the attic, protecting roof shingles and removing moisture.

Essentially, attic fans help control the attic’s temperature, preventing damage to the home, inside and out.

How Are Attic Fans Powered?

Electrically Powered

The most common type of attic fan is electrically powered. These fans are connected to the home’s electrical system. They are either installed as a roof-mounted fan or vertically on the gable wall of the house.


Solar-powered attic fans use the sun’s energy to power the fan.  Solar panels may be integrated with the fan or be attached by a separate cable. Solar fans usually do not have adjustable thermostats and turn on as soon as the sun comes out. This might be your best solution if your home gets a lot of sunlight.


If your home is in a windy area, wind turbines are a good choice as they wind operated and do not use electricity.

What is an Attic Fan Thermostat?

An attic fan thermostat is a device that controls the temperature in your attic by regulating the operation of your attic fan. It monitors the temperature in your attic and turns the fan on or off based on the temperature.

The thermostat can be set to a specific temperature range, usually between 90 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and will turn the fan on when the attic temperature exceeds that range. The thermostat can also be connected to other systems in your home, such as your HVAC system, to work in tandem with them to maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels throughout your home.

Attic fan thermostats are an essential component of attic fan systems. They ensure that the fan runs when needed, conserving energy and keeping your attic at the right temperature to prevent damage to your home.

Why Use an Attic Thermometer?

Attic fan thermostats are not always 100% accurate, so we recommend installing a regular thermometer in the attic so you can quickly gauge if the fan thermostat is working by comparing the temperatures.

This thermometer should be installed on a rafter in the middle of the attic. If your attic thermometer is 20 degrees higher than the exterior and your attic fan is not working, you may need to adjust the attic fan thermostat lower.

Optimal Attic Fan Temperature Settings

Generally, most attic fan thermostats should be set at 90 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The goal is to have the attic temperature be about the same as the exterior temperature. The correct attic fan temperature setting will help prevent the attic from getting dangerous heat levels. The exact temperature will depend on where you live, the size of the attic, and the kind of insulation used. For example, a home in the heat of a Florida summer will have a different setting than one in Chicago.

If the thermostat setting is too high, the attic fan won’t turn on or will only run for a short time. If the temperature setting is too low, the attic fan will run constantly and waste energy. Ideally, you want your attic to be close in temperature to the home’s exterior.

If the attic temperature is 10-15 degrees above the exterior temperature, you know you have an excessive heat problem.

Why Temperature Settings Are Important

The correct temperature will protect your home and its belongings. Excess heat or humidity can take a toll on furniture, flooring, and personal items like photo albums and clothing.

To preserve your AC or central cooling system. If the heat in the attic is soaring, it can hinder your AC unit’s performance, causing it to produce warmer air than required to cool down the home.

If you find that your attic is overheating even with a fan, we recommend getting a contractor to come and examine the state, type, and level of attic insulation you have. Not only will this help save money and energy, but it will keep your home comfortable all year long.

Why the Attic Fan Temperature is Important.

The number one and best reason is for the comfort of the residence and residents and the protection of belongings. 

A cooler attic makes the entire home more comfortable. Additionally, your HVAC system can work less hard, saving energy. Homes with overly hot attics may never reach their target temperature making the house very uncomfortable, especially on the second and upper levels.

Secondly, it helps extend the life of your HVAC system. Since your HVAC isn’t running as hard, it can be more efficient and will last longer. When the A/C is constantly running, it wears down its components, not to mention increasing your electricity bill.

Thirdly, controlling your attic temperature can help extend the life of your asphalt roof. Asphalt shingles are an oil-derived product and these molecules lose their elasticity when heated up. For example, on a hot summer day, if your attic is at 160 degrees with poor ventilation, this will actually “cook” the shingles, making them crack and become brittle, not to mention fading and changing the color of your roof. 

And lastly, the correct attic fan setting will help avoid damage caused by moisture which can result in mold and other macrobiotic allergens and germs. Mold needs three things to grow: moisture, food, and darkness. And improperly ventilated attics have all three.

Adjusting the Attic Fan Thermostat

Today, many fans are “smart” fans connected via WIFI to your smartphone so you can adjust the temperature from just about anywhere.

However, most fans have a small metal box mounted next to the fan in the attic. On this small metal box, a little dial is used to adjust the temperature setting. All it takes to change the temperature is a flathead screwdriver that you use to “dial” to the desired temperature.

Most attic fans have thermostat dials ranging from 60 degrees to around 120 degrees.

If you aren’t sure whether the attic fan is working, you have to adjust the temperature dial to above the current attic temperature. If the attic is around 90 degrees, then just as you hit 90 degrees, the attic fan should turn on. Consequently, adjusting the dial to below 90 degrees should cause the attic fan to shut off.

Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature should I turn off attic fan?

The temperature at which you turn off your attic fan will depend on the specific thermostat settings that you have chosen.

Typically, attic fan thermostats are set to turn off the fan when the attic temperature falls within a specific range, usually between 90 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is the optimal temperature range for most attic fans, as it helps to prevent the attic from getting too hot and causing damage to your home.

Should attic fans run all the time?

Ideally, attic fans should run all the time to provide constant steady airflow and ventilation in the attic, as this helps to remove hot and humid air and prevent damage to your home.

However, electric-powered attic fans often have thermostats that turn the fan off when it gets cooler. This helps to reduce run time and lower costs.

Solar-powered attic fans, on the other hand, can run all the time as they use solar energy to power the fan and do not rely on electricity. This can be an advantage as it ensures a constant and steady airflow and ventilation in the attic.

Final Thoughts

The ideal attic temperature setting is 90 to 110 degrees, but it depends on where your house is located in the country, the size of the home, the type and degree of attic insulation, and the season. Ideally, you want to keep your interior attic temperature within around 10 degrees of the exterior temperature.

It’s a good idea to install an additional attic thermometer in the middle of the attic so you can accurately gauge whether the fan thermostat is working.

Whether it’s the middle of summer or the dead of winter, maintaining the attic temperature is a must for the comfort of your home and the people inside it.