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judithallee 07-09-2013 01:24 PM

Window fans to ventilate musty house
My house was built in 1820, and only 1 window downstairs opens because the window frames settled. Anything that once was square is now a trapezoid.

The house hasn't been lived in over the last couple of years, and now I'm ready to move back in but it has a musty smell. :help:

I open it up for an hour or two at a time, but I need ventilate continuously over the summer. When I'm there, I open the doors, but I can't leave them that way when I'm not home. I don't want to deface the orginal windows if I can help it.

I thought about removing one pane of window glass and installing an exhaust fan on the end of the house opposite the window that does open. I could put in an 8" duct fan (intended to ventilate 400+ sq. ft.) that needs to be wired to a plug, or a 3" bathroom exhaust fan (intended to ventilate 70 sq. ft.), which comes with a plug. Both would be very bulky and they are one-way fans.

Another consideration is that the house has a wonderful southern exposure. We enclosed the porch during the winter for passive solar heat. It would be ideal to have temp-controlled, reversible fans so that in the winter, the fans could bring in hot air when the porch reaches 70 or 80 degrees. It looks like some fans incorporate temp controls, but there are also separate controls that would make it possible to use a fan without temp controls.

I also wondered about air exchangers, which I could use in the winter or summer. And then there are computer "case fans," which seems to push about 30 cubic feet of air. I assume that's not enough. Here's an example:

No matter what, I would probably install the fans in single window panes, so they couldn't exceed 8". I would have a piece of wood cut to accommodate the fan. I would need to attach screening to keep out bugs, birds, and other critters.

I am hoping for feedback on what equipment to buy, how to install in a window pane opening, and problem-avoidance or solving, plus other solutions I don't know enough to ask about. Thanks for any help.

Chris 07-09-2013 02:15 PM

What about a whole house fan in the ceiling set on a timer to come on every no and again?

oldognewtrick 07-09-2013 04:46 PM

Judith, first off :welcome:to House Repair Talk!

Does the house have central air? Is there a basement where water is seeping either through a wall or into a crawl space? Have you checked under the house to see if there is any signs of leaking from water lines or around any waste pipes? Have you checked and made sure you don't have any water infiltration issues in your attic or that your gutters are working properly. All these things can lead to musky smells. Just opening a window and circulating air may not solve your problem.

judithallee 07-16-2013 02:35 PM

Thanks for the responses and the welcome! I thought I responded, but it doesn't appear. Darn, cell phone. The house is over a damp basement with dirt and gravel, a layer of plastic, and then another layer of gravel. The saving grace is that because the house is poorly insulated, sitting on a stone foundation without mortar, and settled so that nothing is square, it's pretty well ventiliated. I just want to get it back to the baseline when I was living there. I realize the fans won't cure all ills. Thanks for any info.

nealtw 07-16-2013 08:27 PM

First step would be to make sure the crawl space has an abundance of cross ventulation.

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