Solar attic fans and carbon monoxide: is there a risk?

A solar attic fan on a roof overlooking a lake.

One of the frequently cited myths of solar attic fans is that they cause carbon monoxide poisoning in homes. Homeowners often question whether risks outweigh any potential benefits the fans may bring. Independent tests have now disproved these inaccurate claims.

The claim

In the past, engineers believed that solar attic fans created “negative pressure zones” in the home. This belief also says that by ventilating air out of a home, air pressure inside can actually drop to a point where noxious gasses like carbon monoxide get sucked and trapped indoors. Statistics also compound these fears with the data showing carbon monoxide poisoning causes roughly 300 deaths and 200 hospitalizations per year in Canada.

So do solar attic fans pose a risk?

Independent testing by Building Knowledge Canada, one of the most active and widely recognized building performance organizations in North America, confirms that solar attic fans do NOT pose a carbon monoxide risk. In fact, products like iSolar Solutions’ bestselling 20W106-FLEX fans have the capabilities to work together with other components like soffit vents that control incoming airflow. Also, the tests found solar attic fans don’t move enough air to create negative pressure which traps noxious gasses inside.

Solar attic fans are effective against other, more common health risks

Numerous studies have found that about half of all homes in the United States have problems related to mold and dampness. A 2007 American Environmental Protection Agency study showed these kinds of issues caused roughly 4.6 million cases of asthma

By boosting air circulation in a home’s attic, solar attic fans can drastically reduce mold, mildew and bacterial growth. They can also save homeowners the headache of cost repairs for moisture-related structural damage. In line with that, mold removal professionals have found attics the most common place for mold growth. They also found the attic typically holds half of all the mold found in homes.

For homes located in hotter climates with high humidity, solar attic fans give existing ventilation systems a much-needed boost. They do this by pushing out moisture-laden air that gets trapped in a home’s attic.

For homes in cooler climates, solar attic fans also keep attics protected during the winter months. They do this by preventing snow from melting upon contact with roofing materials. Without proper ventilation of hot air, snow and ice that melts on the roof may form hazardous ice dams. These, in turn, may cause additional pileups to seep into the roof underneath the shingles. Additional water damage and mold growth can happen if the water trickles down into the ceilings. As a result, authorities may even condemn entire homes in extreme cases of mold.  

To learn more about how iSolar Solutions’ solar attic fans can protect your home from mold and moisture-related damage, or to find out more about how our products can fit your home’s ventilation needs, please contact one of our knowledgeable staff.

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