Many people are not aware of the critical importance that the ventilation system in your attic plays when it comes to the health and longevity of your roof. In fact, roof vents are likely not something that tends to cross the homeowners mind very often, if at all. But it should.
There is a major reason that every homeowner should have attic ventilation on their mind. The reason is because having your attic properly vented can save you a big bundle of cash.
First of all, proper attic ventilation can help to prolong the roof’s lifespan, thereby saving you money in the long run by preventing you from having it replaced before it is truly necessary.
Secondly, ensuring your attic is properly ventilated is likely to increase the energy efficiency of your, decreasing your monthly utility bill, and saving you money in the short term.
Ventilation In The Attic
The air in your attic is not typically stagnant. It is cycled through from inside to out by way of vents used for intake and exhaust. There are several different roof vent types available depending on the style of roof you have. The vents that are used for the intake of fresh air are usually installed around the lower edges of the roof set into the gable, while the exhaust vents are usually placed high up on the ridge of the roof. The placement of the vents takes advantage of the fact that hot air rises. While the warm, moist air from inside the attic rises to the ridge of the roof, fresh cooler air is being brought in through the intake vents around the lower edges of the roof.
Ventilation Protects the Roof
Proper ventilation in the attic essentially prevents hot air and moisture from getting trapped underneath the roof deck. Depending on the time of year and the climate, heat and moisture can pose risks to your roof that can be detrimental.
- In sunny environments, the heat of the blazing hot sun overhead acts to rapidly heat up the inside the attic underneath the roofing deck. If this excess heat is not allowed to escape and be replaced by cooler air, you may be at risk of damage to the roof. Intense heat for prolonged periods of time can cause shingles to warp, or worse, cause the roof deck to warp and distort, compromising the structural integrity of the roof. Excess heat trapped in the attic can also be forced down into the conditioned living space of your home. If you are using air conditioning during the hot summer months, improper attic ventilation could be costing you on your monthly utility bill.
- During the colder winter months, warm air in the attic can cause another issue which can be especially damaging for your roof. When the underside of the roof is allowed to be warmed by the air from inside your home, it can cause the ice and snow on the topside of the roof to melt. When the water runs down to the cooler edge of the roof, it can refreeze causing an ice dam. Ice dams damage the roof by dislodging shingles, contributing to the formation of standing water, and finally due to the excess weight on the roof’s edge. Ice dams can be easily prevented by ensuring proper attic ventilation, thus allowing warm air to escape.
- Finally, a good ventilation system within the attic prevents the accumulation of moisture and humidity. When humidity in the attic is not allowed to escape, it can damage insulation as well as rot away the structural components of the roof. Once mold and mildew begin to form within the home, they are difficult to extricate.
Signs of Ventilation Issues in Your Attic
Depending on the climate you live in, as well what type of insulation and ventilation systems may already exist in your attic, the signs of inadequate ventilation may present themselves in a variety of ways.
If you notice a high utility bill, or that you have difficult controlling the indoor environment within your home, you may have and insulation or ventilation issue in your attic
If there is an abundant buildup of ice around the edges of your roof during winter, or you notice a significant number of large icicles, you’ll definitely want to check out the ventilation situation inside your attic.
Finally, signs of moisture accumulation under the roof deck, water stains in the attic or on the ceiling, or a wavy or rippled appearance to individual shingles or even the entire roofline are sure signs of issues with your attic ventilation.
Most building codes call for one square foot of intake and exhaust vents for each 150 square feet of unfinished attic.If you are suspicious that the ventilation in your attic is insufficient, you should consult with a qualified roofing contractor right away.