A lot of homeowners tend to forget about their roofs a year or two after the installation. However, this exterior system plays an incredibly important role in many aspects of your day-to-day life at home. It is largely responsible for protecting your living space from harsh elements such as extreme heat, rainfall and snow. Your roof needs to have the right amount of ventilation in order to improve the functionality of your structure, increase the comfort and safety of your family and reduce seasonal maintenance and storm damage repair costs in the future.
How Does Attic Ventilation Work?
Attic ventilation operates on the principle that heated air naturally rises. An effective ventilation in an unfinished attic generally includes intake vents, which are located at the lowest part of the roof under the eaves, and exhaust vents, which are located at the peak or roof ridge. Cool air from the outdoors gets drawn in through the intake or soffit vents while hot, humid air that roams to the highest point escapes through the exhaust vents. This natural process, commonly referred to as passive ventilation, allows for an uninterrupted flow of air through the attic space.
Why Your Home Needs Sufficient Roof Ventilation
Good, ample ventilation in your attic helps regulate excess heat and moisture content in the air that can otherwise be a threat to the structure of your home. Problems that heat and moisture buildup in the attic space cause are predictable but vary depending on the climatic conditions. If you live in an area with hot summers and cold winters, it is possible to suffer the detrimental effects of both.
- Heat from the sun can amplify the temperature in the attic. According to residential roofers, prolonged exposure to excessive heat caused by the sun beating down your roof can warp the roof sheathing and prematurely age roof shingles. It is critical to adequately insulate the attic floor so heat cannot harshly radiate down into the finished areas, such the living room and bedrooms, keeping your living space more comfortable and less costly to maintain.
- Humidity can lead to condensation on cold surfaces. If humidity generated from your living area or from outside enters a cool attic, it will condense into water droplets once it comes into contact with colder surfaces. The resulting moisture or dampness can promote early deterioration of your roofing system, along with interior structural components, and ruin the attic insulation over time. In a warm attic, the moisture can allow mold and mildew to grow and spread, adding strain on your cooling equipment and possibly causing allergic reactions in some residents.
- Ice dams form in homes without adequate roof ventilation. In areas where the temperature drops below freezing during the winter season, warm air flowing into the attic from the heated living space below climbs up until it reaches the underside of the roof decking. As the decking warms, the bottom layer of stockpiled snow on the roof surface begins to melt, causing water to leak down the roof. Once the stream reaches the cold outer edge, it refreezes into ice, forming ice dams along the eaves. If the escape of further runoff is prevented, it can cause the water to back up under the shingles and leak into your home, creating damage to the walls and ceilings and leading to untimely roof repair services.
Signs of Improper Ventilation
Homes without proper ventilation in the attic will encounter problems that manifest themselves in many different ways. Watch out for these subtle and clear-cut signs that indicate you need to fix the ventilation of your roof and attic as soon as possible.
- There is a suspicious spike in your household cooling and heating bills. This commonly happens when the insulation in your attic soaks up excess moisture, causing it to become wet and lose its effectiveness.
- Your heating and cooling system requires frequent repair and maintenance. A heating or cooling equipment that is operating under a heavier workload than normal is more prone to breakdowns and unexpected failure, requiring more frequent repair and maintenance services from a local HVAC technician.
- Ice is building up on your roof. Ventilation removes the heat and helps keep your roof decking evenly cool. This prevents snow from melting on the roof and refreezing in your roofing system. A noticeable buildup of ice along the roof edge during cold, snowy winter months shows that there is a problem with your roof ventilation and that you need to schedule a roof repair soon.
- Metal components in the attic are corroding. If metal materials in the attic, such as electrical boxes, light fixtures and nail heads, are starting to show rust and corrosion, you need to check your ventilation system immediately. Do not forget to inspect the components of your heating and cooling systems since they can also be affected by corrosion.
- The roof shows evidence of dampness. Check if there is dampness, water stains and frost on the attic side of the roof sheathing. Evidence of deterioration and decay of structural supports of the roof are usual indicators of an urgent moisture problem in the attic space.
- Your family members experience discomfort. Poor attic ventilation can pose a significant health hazard to occupants and pets. An increase in allergy symptoms or respiratory complications, such as excessive coughing, irritated eyes and asthma attacks, among your family members may be related to the spread of fungi spores throughout the indoor air primarily caused by mold growth in your attic.
- Roofing elements look warped. Residential roofers say that wavy or rippled appearance to shingles and the roofline is typically caused by warping of moisture-damaged decking underneath.
Be sure to keep safety in mind if you decide to identify the presence of these signs in your attic. Walk around the outside of your home and inspect the condition of the roofing system from the ground up. If you head up to the attic, make sure the space is illuminated well enough to allow a clear, sturdy path and to wear a complete and appropriate protective clothing.
How to Address a Poorly Ventilated Attic
If you have concerns about any of the mentioned warning signs, it is a smart move to call a professional roofing company in order to thoroughly assess the situation and determine whether there is enough ventilation in the attic. In general, building codes require one sq. ft. of net free-vent area (NFVA) per 300 sq. ft. of space in an unfinished attic. A roofing professional can advise you on the best options you can take to effectively improve ventilation. They will consider several factors, such as the local climate in your area, the architecture of your roof, the age of your shingles and whether your attic floor is sealed and well-insulated, to come up with solutions that are tailored according to your specific needs. This helps ensure that your investment will last for a long period of time, providing your home with increased comfort and sustainability all year round, from hot and humid summers to cold and frosty winters.
Contact Atrium Roofing for Your Roof and Attic Ventilation Needs
Atrium Roofing is a premier source of roof ventilation, roof replacement and storm damage repair solutions in Texas. We work diligently to provide residential and commercial clients with exceptional service from start to finish. Let our skilled and experienced roofers take care of your home like it is their own! Call at (210) 806-7171 or fill out our contact form to set up an appointment.