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Attic Ventilation Misconceptions

Dec 15, 2019

Keeping a home at a comfortable temperature requires more than just a reliable heating and cooling system. Some homes with modern air conditioning units and furnaces may have trouble maintaining consistent temperatures, while homes with older heating fixtures and no central air conditioning seem to remain more comfortable more consistently. These fluctuations almost always come down to ventilation, or how a home’s airflow functions. Airflow through and within a home has a dramatic impact on the temperature, comfort level, and air quality inside the home.

Common Misconceptions About Attic Ventilation

To accurately diagnose your home’s ventilation problems, you may need to separate fact from myth. Here’s some insight into how your home’s ventilation system should work, especially when it comes to your attic and some myths to bust.

Myth: Proper Ventilation Helps Keep My House a More Comfortable Temperature

Fact: Attic ventilation improves comfort when it comes to moisture, not temperature. Unless your attic is finished, it should not be the same temperature as the rest of your home and should instead be about the same temperature as the outside. Proper ventilation ensures moisture will not accumulate and damage the interior of your attic and the inside of your roof.

Myth: Roof Vents Are the Best Form of Attic Ventilation

Fact: Roof vents may work well for some homes in certain areas of the country, but they are by no means the best solution for attic ventilation. Ridge vents are cost-effective but require baffles to keep air out of the attic. Gable vents offer great circulation, but only in a very limited area of the attic. The best attic ventilation systems make use of a ride-and-soffit system that provides continuous ventilation.

Depending on the type of home you own, the location in which you live, and the material of your roof, different ventilation systems will all offer different benefits. If you have concerns about the quality of your home’s attic ventilation, it’s best to consult and experienced roofer and schedule an inspection.

Myth: Vents Aren’t a Good Idea for Homes in Cold Climates

Fact: Many homeowners mistakenly believe that vents are only handy for the summertime to keep air flowing and prevent warm air from accumulating in an attic, but the primary function of an attic ventilation system is to prevent moisture damage. Sun exposure and insulation are more important for cold climate homes when it comes to energy efficiency, and proper ventilation helps minimize moisture-related problems.

If your attic does not have proper ventilation, temperature fluctuations can cause moisture problems faster than you might expect. Homes in colder climates tend to have more temperature fluctuations on a daily basis than homes in warmer areas. Sun exposure can warm up a roof and change the moisture level inside the attic, and then the temperature drop when the sun goes down alters the moisture level again. This process can cause moisture to accumulate unless the attic ventilation system allows moisture to dissipate properly.

Myth: It’s Best to Install Several Vents. The More Vents, the Better the Airflow Will Be

Fact: Too little ventilation can indeed lead to moisture-related issues, but too much ventilation and too many placed vents inherently means more penetrations in the roof where leaks are likely to occur. Most roof leaks are near penetrations like roof vents and chimneys. By adding more vents to your roof, you are essentially creating more opportunities for leaks to appear.

Every home has a different construction style, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to configuring attic ventilation. Determining the appropriate layout for your attic’s vents largely depends on the size of the attic, whether the attic is finished, the location of the home, and how much sun exposure the home receives on a regular basis.

Myth: Roof Vents Will Make My House Colder in the Winter

Fact: It’s true that heat rises, but vents in the attic will not automatically make a home less energy-efficient during the cold weather. Poor insulation is more likely to cause heat loss than attic vents. If your attic is unfinished but properly insulated, it should keep heat in the floors below the attic while the attic itself is about the same temperature as the outside temperature.

Work With an Experienced Roofer

Whether you’re moving into a new home or trying to make your current home more comfortable and energy-efficient, an experienced roofer can be a tremendous asset. Schedule a roof inspection and your roofer will be able to diagnose ventilation issues and recommend functional solutions.

Many ventilation issues are actually roof damage issues. The homeowner may suspect a problem with the home’s attic ventilation without realizing that the damaged roof is actually the culprit behind increasing utility costs and more noticeable day to day temperature fluctuations. An experienced roofer can do several types of inspections to check for roof damage that the average homeowner may fail to spot. Some of the most common types of roof damage that can interfere with ventilation include leaks and physical damage to the roof shingles and roof bed.

Consider Upgrading Your Roof

If your roofer notices extensive issues with your roof, they may not only cause ventilation issues but also pose health and safety risks to you and the other members of your household. Depending on the age of your roof, how much longer you intend to live in the home, and the amount of financial flexibility you have, repairing may not be the best option to solve ventilation problems. In some cases, replacing the roof may be initially more expensive but provide a tremendous return on the investment while providing a more long-term solution to your roof-related problems.

When you schedule your roof inspection, ask your roofer for a recommendation on how to fix your ventilation problem. In some cases, the solution may be as simple as patching a small leak or re-shingling an area of your roof. If the roofer notices several leaks or a series of issues that are all contributing to your ventilation issues, the roofer will likely recommend replacement in lieu of a repair. It also provides an opportunity to upgrade. For example, a typical asphalt shingle roof will usually last 20 to 25 years with proper care, but a metal roof can last 75 years or longer with minimal maintenance.

Attic Ventilation and Roof Repair

Ultimately, attic ventilation is an important part of any home, and all homeowners should understand how it works as well as the ideal configurations for their regions and home construction styles.

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