Proper ventilation is the most vital element of your home’s health and it starts in the attic. The most effective form of attic ventilation is the combination of soffit (intake) and ridge (exhaust) ventilation. Attics need to “breathe” clearly to do their job and protect the insulation from condensation as well as the structural members from wood rot caused by moisture intrusion. If your home is not equipped with soffit and ridge ventilation, you should consult an attic insulation professional to customize an attic ventilation solution that suits your home’s needs based on its specific environmental factors.
Properly ventilating your attic has cumulative, house-wide effects, allowing your insulation to perform well, saving you money on home heating and cooling, and preventing mold, mildew, and damage to your roof and eaves. Proper ventilation in your attic should address excess heat and moisture that can otherwise wreak havoc on your home. Heat and moisture buildup in an attic cause predictable but different problems in hot and cold climates; areas with hot summers and cold winters can suffer the effects of both.
Homes without appropriate insulation and ventilation in the attic will allow heat to migrate. Meanwhile, because hot air is full of moisture, all that water hanging out in the attic is causing condensation to build up. Warm air that escapes living space also carries that moisture and will condense on rafters or roof sheathing.
In the Summer, excess heat and condensation can cause major damage to the homes roof and roofing materials. The home inspector should reach up and touch the ceiling of the upstairs rooms on a warm, sunny day. A hot ceiling indicates that the attic is acting like a solar oven, raising the cooling bills and cooking the shingles.
In the Winter, thick ridges of ice on the eaves (roof’s bottom edge) is a sign of poor attic ventilation. Warm air that escapes rooms below gets trapped in the attic, water refreeze on the cold eaves, creating ice dams. Warm air escapes the living space also carries moisture that will condense on rafters or roof sheathing. During the Winter, the home Inspector should check the attic with a flashlight and if they see dampness or frost then they can confirm the need for better roof ventilation and some attic vents.
In the summer, good attic ventilation reduces heat buildup. That cuts cooling costs and prolongs shingle life. In the winter, warm, moist air seeps into the attic from the living space below. Good ventilation allows the heat and moisture to escape. During the Winter, proper ventilation keeps the attic dry and reduces ice dams.
The key to reducing attic problems is often improved ventilation installed alongside better ventilation. Insulation can’t perform if it’s moist or warm - it can clump or flatten, which reduces its ability to effectively prevent heat transfer. New ventilation works alongside the old ventilation to control moisture and temperature to ensure that your attic is operating smoothly. For the best results, roof ventilation should be placed near the roof’s peak and soffit vents in the eaves. Air flows in through the soffit vents and out through the roof vents.
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