How to remove huge, heavy and scary fan in the attic?

bhendricksFebruary 11, 2013

About a month ago, I just bought a house. I intentionally looked for one with "good bones" and a rock-bottom price but bad cosmetics because I've always wanted to gut a place as much as possible and make a complete transformation. I've finally found it! My primary focal point is the interior. I'm planning to get rid of about 80-90% of the plaster to replace with drywall (I'm keeping it in the living room as it's in OK condition as compared to the rest)...so, naturally, I begin removing walls and the ceiling. Everything has been going OK so far, besides having a rat skull or two fall right on my head from the ceiling!

Anyways, In the hallway, I notice there's some kind of grate. With the surrounding plaster, it comes down. I cautiously peek up this hole, afraid of the possibility of black widow spiders and rodents, and instead see this gigantic fan at the end of this tunnel-looking thing--the fan was about five feet high, it was THAT big. I can't fathom on how it was put up there, as heavy as it looks. The attic's hatchway, which is big enough for a small adult, wasn't big enough for this fan to be pushed up there. So, how do I get this thing OUT of my house and sent away to China to be turned into cheap $1.99 disposable razors?

I don't even know why it's in here in the first place. The house is a little less than 1500 sq. ft, so it's definitely oversized. It looks like something you'd find at a very large industrial warehouse. I know what whole-house fans are, and I'm pretty sure that's what it was intended as, but your average Home Depot special whole-house fan is small, like two-odd feet wide in diameter and pretty flimsy and lightweight. This is so big and heavy-looking, I can probably get a pretty penny just for it's scrap metal value. It's old, ugly, dangerous and kind of scary. One flick of the switch and it looks like it can pull you up and make you into mincemeat. I have no use for it, and I don't even want to turn it on. I didn't know it existed until then.

Does anyone have a good idea on how to get this out of my attic, keeping in mind I do not want to cut it out of the joists? I need to have a plan, I'd like to get the hallway drywalled up so I can move on.

This post was edited by bhendricks on Mon, Feb 11, 13 at 15:53

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live_wire_oak

Disassemble it. It's not one whole. It's parts and pieces put together to make a big whole. Should be a belt drive most likely with a motor and the separate blades. Get some Kroil and spray it on all of the bolts and let that set a couple of hours before you try turning them.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 4:43PM
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bhendricks

I see what you mean, and it would be SO nice if that was the case! But of course life has to be complicated and the fan is enshrouded in a big steel cabinet-like thing. By the looks of it, it can't be taken apart short of using a cutting torch. The motor, of course, is bolted to the frame of this contraption, but everything else seems to be "one piece", everything that could have been fastened is welded or riveted. The assembly that holds the fan and its belt-drive hub wheel is riveted to the shroud.

This thing has to be at least 250 pounds, maybe more, it's all made of thick-guage steel. I don't think a recip saw can butcher it.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 6:23PM
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Fori is not pleased

Does it work?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 8:13PM
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HandyMac

Hire someone to disassemble it.

Just specify NO cutting torches/flames/grinders of any kind.

Reciprocating saws and drills(to drill out rivets).

Will be expensive, but worth not burning the house down. But less expensive if the ceiling is open.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 12:41AM
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greg_2010

Is there a reason to remove it? Just unhook it from the electricity (if it's even hooked up) and abandon it in place. Seems like a lot of effort for no gain.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:57AM
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brickeyee

"I'm planning to get rid of about 80-90% of the plaster to replace with drywall"

Excellent way to decrease value.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:00AM
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Fori is not pleased

Maybe it does something, though. Have you been there through a summer yet?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 12:00PM
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weedyacres

You could always post it on CL or freecycle, and offer it free to someone who removes it for you. You might attract a scrapper who can make short work of it.

Got any photos?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 1:19PM
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live_wire_oak

Well, you could justify a plasma cutter purchase now....

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 2:36PM
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snoonyb

I'd use a 4" grinder and a sawzall and be done in a little over an hour.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:57PM
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lov_mkitchenIOWA zone 6b

If that's a whole house fan you'd best be keeping it. And for sure live there through a summer before you get rid of it!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 9:09PM
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bhendricks

I have finally found a way to remove it after some serious brainstorming. Thanks for your suggestions, but being that there was no feasible way to cut it up or otherwise demolish it in place, it did involve cutting out the joists around the fan (only three of them--they were sistered right after). But before I did that, with help I temporarily "suspended" the fan from the rafters with heavy-duty chains, bracing the rafters so the fan wouldn't pull the roof down. Keep in mind this fan had a boxed-like shroud, so it was huge and heavy.

I built temporary bracing with 2x4's around the cutout and slowly, with help from four guys, lowered this contraption down into the living space onto dollies. It wouldn't fit out the entry door, but after removing it (which was going to be replaced anyways as it looked dated), it was out of my attic. Now it sits in my front yard until I get around to hauling it off to the dump.

I really do wonder why someone would want something so big? And how did they get it up there? How did they not have curtains flying off their windows and towards the fan grate when it was used? The house was built in the late 1890's, so of course it wasn't "installed" when the house was built. There's no way it belonged in a residence. I'm surprised it wasn't three-phase.

The reason why I didn't want it was because I am going to turn my attic into a guest room or home office, and it sat right smack-dab in the middle. The house is in the Midwest--Nebraska to be exact--where it is stifling hot in the summer, but the house is shaded very well by trees. It also has a 4-year-old heat pump, so I'll be using the AC. This fan had to have beem put up there WAY before then--before AC became common to the masses. It looked about 50+ years old.

Thanks for your ideas and I'm sure I'll be coming back for more questions as I go further into this journey. It's been really fun! I'm particularly excited about the kitchen, which will be happening soon on the agenda!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 2:01AM
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tinan

I'm guessing it was built in place up there? Glad you got it out!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 9:46PM
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nancyinmich

You can probably make up your gas money plus by driving it to a metal recycler. If you don't have the means to move it, put an ad in your Craigslist or Freecycle for someone to come pick it up. A lot of people will have the means to move it , but need the cash the recycler will give them.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 11:59PM
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