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We have a "mini attic" in addition to the main attic. The mini is above the 1st floor kitchen and on the same level as the 2nd floor. It has an access door in the bedroom closet.

My wife would like to use it to store off-season clothing and other items. But during the summer months, it's probably 120 degrees in there, so I'm concerned about using that space for storage.

We recently had the shingle replaced and the roofer cut a ridge vent, but it still gets pretty hot in there. There's a small (8" x 11") gable vent in the exterior brick wall. I was thinking of attaching a gable vent fan to exhaust the hot air.

But I just read something that said that's a bad idea. The concern is that you'll end up pulling conditioned air in from the nearby rooms and cause the AC to work harder. Because the mini attic is not air-tight, that sort of makes sense.

So should I skip the vent fan? Is there another way to cool that space bit? Should I be concerned about using it for storage if I can't cool it down?

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1 Answer 1

You'll increase energy costs and only make it marginally cooler. The only way this could work is to fully insulate and make it part of the conditioned space. But the kitchen ceiling/attic floor is not designed to support any kind of real loads, so it's only practical to store very lightweight items anyway.

So what lightweight items can you store there? If conditioned space, anything that will fit through the access. If not conditioned, only items that can withstand extreme heat without degradation could be stored there. I would not store any valuable clothing in that kind of environment.

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Thanks @bcworkz, that's what I was starting to think - only marginally cooler and at the expense of higher energy costs. I'll tell my wife we can store some stuff in there, but nothing that's heat-sensitive. –  user249493 Aug 6 '13 at 12:54
    
I just thought about this a bit more and am wondering...A vent fan has to pull air from somewhere, and I assume it's going to grab the air with the least resistance. While some will be pulled through the access door, vent and electrical cut-throughs, and other places, wouldn't the majority of the air be pulled through the ridge vent? I would think that would be the "path of least resistance". Sure, it means the attic would never be cooler than outside ambient temperature, but at least I wouldn't be pulling too much conditioned air from inside the house. Right or wrong? –  user249493 Aug 6 '13 at 13:01
    
Right, but it's difficult to say just in what proportion. If the building envelope were truly well sealed (few are), little conditioned air would be lost. It's very unlikely you will get the attic temperature even close to outside air temperature, even with a very powerful fan. The ridge vents only provide so much relief and the heat gained through roofing is difficult to grasp, but it is a LOT. –  bcworkz Aug 6 '13 at 23:10

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