You’re probably aware that most attic and roofs are vented. Maybe you’re also aware of the ridge vent that’s at the peak of your roof. However, what you may not be aware of is that some homes may not have enough ventilation or don’t have any ventilation at all. Now, you may be asking if a roof ventilation system is even necessary? Roof ventilation helps keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, therefore giving your roof a longer lifespan and a much lower risk of roof damages. A well-designed roof ventilation system also helps eliminate moisture in your attic and crawl spaces by allowing cool, dry air to enter while exhausting out the warm, moist air. Your local roofing contractors know that in order to stay healthy, your home actually needs to breathe just like you do! Allowing your home to breathe will help prevent damp and deter dangerous mold growth in your attic and crawl spaces.
Why Are Roof Vents Needed?
If you have an attic, an unheated space in the basement or an upper floor attached to the roof, ventilation is necessary to help correct air conditioning of your area. In summer, your roof’s ventilation helps cool the roof and underlying water barrier materials, reducing the expansion of the metal and slows the aging of asphalt shingles, which suffer from the heat. That’s not all though; roof vents are crucial in winter too. By keeping your roof cool, you can prevent snow from melting on top of the roof and freezing again in your rain gutters where they would create an ice dam that can cause leaks and water damage. Even if there are no leaks, additional weight can cause structural damage to your roof. The vents prevent this by circulating the coldest air from the eaves through the vent in the roof peak.
Extend The Life Of Your Roof
Have you ever seen icicles build up on the edge of roofs and gutters? This ice buildup is known as ice damming. You can see the icicles, but you can’t see the damage that they’re doing to the edge of your roof. Ice damming happens when heat from inside your attic combines with heat from the sun to melt snow and ice on your warm roof. When the resulting water runs to the edge of your roof, it begins to refreeze. As the ice and water build up at the edges of the roof, it can back up behind/underneath the roofing materials, causing damage to your whole roof system, your attic and even inside the walls of your home.
Proper ventilation helps warm air escape before it has a chance to melt the snow and ice on your roof. A well-vented roof can be easy to see in the wintertime. It will still have snow on the roof, but there will not be an icicle in sight.
Ventilation will benefit a roof when it’s hot outside as well. When the outside temperature rises, the temperature on your roof can be nearly double that. A hot roof over a poorly vented attic will give you a very hot attic.
The reason for this is that unventilated or poorly ventilated attics don’t have an escape route for the heat that builds up. This buildup of heat can damage your shingles from the inside out. An evenly vented roof will allow the hot air to escape keeping your roof and attic cooler.
Reducing Energy Costs
When the temperature increases outside, everyone wishes to shelter away and stay cool inside. A properly vented roof allows the heat to escape, thereby reducing the workload on your air conditioner. An air conditioner that’s running less means you will have a lower electric bill.
Reduces Indoor Temperature Extremes
Have you ever walked upstairs and thought it was at least 10 degrees warmer than it was in your living room? These indoor temperature extremes are often the result of poorly vented roofs. Once your roof is adequately vented to allow the hot air to escape and the cool air enter the attic space, your home will be more comfortable year-round.
Attic Vents Control Moisture & Temperature
When air stagnates in the attic, moisture tends to condense out and settle on the framing and insulation. This provides a perfect environment for mold and rot to set in. Mold loves to grow in damp attic insulation, and damp insulation has a tendency to clump, which reduces its effectiveness. Rot affects the framing and the roof decking, and the end result can be a sagging roof. Sagging roofs leak, which worsens the moisture problem in the attic and creates a big problem in living areas below.
The Proper Attic Ventilation
Soffit vents, which are grids that fit over holes you cut in the soffits, come in different sizes. On some aluminum or vinyl soffit systems, the vents are integrated into soffit panels. Since the roof line and soffit form a corner in the attic, you usually have to fit baffles over the soffit vents, running up along the roof sheathing beneath the insulation. These are cardboard or plastic air passageways that you fasten to the underside of the roof decking. They prevent insulation from blocking the vents and keep air flowing freely.
Ridge vents are the most economical roof vents. A roof’s ridge vent is a continuous vent that runs along the peak of a sloped roof. It is usually covered with shingles to match the rest of the roof. You can also choose a number of vent styles that open directly onto the roof deck. Care should be taken to make sure that the vent openings aren’t covered by snow in the winter as this will seriously hinder their functionality. If your house accommodates them, you can also satisfy the roof vent area requirement by installing gable vents that penetrate the siding and open into the unheated attic space. You have to exercise some care when designing a ventilation system to ensure uniform circulation throughout the attic, especially in corners and behind obstacles.
The Flat Roof Vent System
Whichever roof ventilation system you select, you will want to make sure that you preserve the integrity of your roof. If you install a turbine or other ventilation duct across the roof surface, you must ensure that it includes enough solenoid and sealant to prevent water from flowing into the home and causing moisture problems. A ridge vent will have to be fixed on the roof, the asphalt fabric, the minimal roll or the metal. It is necessary to provide the room with circulating air under the roof covering.
How Does Roof Ventilation Work?
A roof ventilation system works by providing continuous flow of air through your attic space, helping remove overheated air and moisture from the attic and roof system and reduce the impact of changing temperatures and moisture conditions both inside and outside the home. The system that allows the ventilation of air to take place consist of intake vents and exhaust vents installed at strategic intervals in the attic or roof area. Several different types of vents may be used in different locations to provide ventilation for the attic or roof area. Several different types of vents may be used in different locations to provide for attic air to circulate in the right amounts and directions throughout the roofing system.
A good local roofing company knows that correct design and construction of the roof ventilation system is critical. The roof’s design should provide plenty of open air space for insulation and air flow under the roof and eaves. And, a correctly designed system will precisely balance the intake and exhaust ventilation under the roof so that the attic is slightly pressurized, preventing conditioned air from being sucked out too quickly through the vents, thereby increasing heating and cooling costs.
What Happens If Your Attic Is Not Vented?
Any professional local roofing contractors will tell you that proper attic ventilation is crucial to keep the air flowing through your attic, rather than simply letting it sit. Ventilation essentially helps outside air pass through and out of your attic, removing excess heat and moisture from the air of your attic as it does so. Air is taken in through areas like your soffits and eaves and is exhausted through the roof at your ridge cap or by a roof vent. This helps create the right air balance in your attic, which plays an important role in keeping your home healthy and comfortable to be in.
How Much Attic Ventilation Do You Need?
Since most roofs are under ventilated, many people have no idea just how much roof ventilation they need, or what kind of purchase. The FHA recommends that you have 1 square foot of attic exhaust (both intake and exhaust) for every 300 square feet of attic square.
When there is a lack of ventilation it can cause a whole host of problems in and around your home. Depending on the climate that you live in, lack of proper ventilation can have a serious impact on your energy bills and the lifespan of things like your roof.
If your home lacks sufficient ventilation, it can create a super heated attic. Without the air moving through the space, the air trapped inside starts to heat up with the sun beating down on the roof. This heat then transfers itself through the floor of your attic and begins to warm the rooms of your home. This in turn leads to higher energy bills as your fans and AC work to combat it. Another issue with the fact that your attic is becoming superheated is the lifespan of your roof shingles. The heat from your attic won’t just be transferred down into your living space; it will also be transferred back to the roof itself. This causes the shingles to become overheated, essentially frying them and decreasing their lifespan.
The heat transfer from a super heated attic can damage a lot more than your roof and your energy bills. It can also warp the wood framing in your attic, which in turn can warp walls and door frames, as well as transfer down the walls to blister your paint and wallpaper.
Moisture Build Up
The summer isn’t the only time you need to worry about a lack of attic ventilation. During the winter the steam from your shower, clothes dryer, and pots and pans can all get trapped in the attic where it condenses. This condensation can drip back down onto your insulation, rendering it less effective. It can also lead to the growth of mold and mildew in your attic and in your insulation where it can harm your family’s health.
Condensation and excess moisture can also form on your eaves and soffits, driving moisture back under your roof and forming ice dams that can cause leaks as well. Proper ventilation keeps the air moving all year long, which moves moisture out of the attic before it can condense.
Proper ventilation is essential to the well-being of your home and everyone within. If you are concerned that your roof is lacking sufficient ventilation or you have noticed some of the issues mentioned here in your home, you should contact professional local roofing contractors to have a look and let you know what your options are. Call 518-444-ROOF and we will be happy to help you address any concerns you may have.