Most people don’t go into the attic very often, if at all. However, with the proper ventilation, you can extend the life of your roof and contribute to the comfort of your family.
Ventilation in an unfinished attic usually has intake vents along the soffits and exhaust vents at the top of the roof. This allows for proper air flow. Cooler air moves through the soffit vents and the warm, humid air exits through the roof ridge vents.
Benefits of Attic Ventilation
Proper ventilation helps curb the excess heat and moisture that will accumulate in upper areas of a house or building.
• Summer heat pounding on the roof will increase attic temperatures and this excessive heat can warp the roof’s sheathing and distort shingles. If there is insufficient insulation in the attic, that heat will seep into the lower levels of a house, making the living areas more costly to cool, increasing utility bills.
• Conversely, winter temperatures means that the warmth from the living space rises to the attic and then to the underside of the roof. The snow on the roof starts melting from the bottom. As that trickle of melted snow reaches the colder outer edge of the roof, it refreezes and prevents any further runoff. If this happens often enough, the water will find its way under the shingles. If the waterproofing fails, the water will enter the attic and eventually onto the drywall that forms the living area ceilings and walls.
If you want to check to see if you have adequate attic ventilation, here are some things to look for:
• Unexpected increase in utility bills if the attic insulation is wet and ineffective.
• Build up of ice along the roof edge during the winter.
• Shingles that are warping. Look for a wavy or rippled effect.
• HVAC system working harder or needing more frequent repairs.
• Water stains or frost on the attic side of the roof or anything that looks off about the roof’s structure.
• Increase in allergies or respiratory problems.
If you have concerns about whether the ventilation in your attic is adequate or has diminished, it is suggested that you contact a reputable roofing contractor to conduct an inspection of your roof and attic space. This professional will be able to determine if there is damage to your roof or if you need to install additional vents along the soffit, add a ridge vent, add insulation to your attic or seal the floor, making sure the soffit vents remain open, or other options.
At the same time, be sure that your attic is not over-ventilated. Too many roof penetrations can create their own leaks and various problems, especially in extreme weather. Finding the right balance is important to the efficient heating and cooling of your home and comfort of all that live there.
A good time to schedule this inspection is at the same time you have your roof inspected for structural soundness or any other problems that may have cropped up.