roof attic ventilation

The Importance of Adequate Roof and Attic Ventilation

Why Your Home’s Roof Needs Proper Ventilation

Roofs are intended to provide protection from the elements and help keep the interior of your home dry and comfortable through the hottest summers and the chilliest winters. To do so effectively, however, your attic must provide proper ventilation; in fact, ventilation is one of the primary factors that determine the interior comfort of your home as well as your heating and cooling bills. When you consider the effect your attic ventilation has on the lifespan of your roof system, it’s clear that adequate ventilation is a topic every homeowner should understand.

How Does Attic and Roof Ventilation Work?

Ventilation usually depends on two major components—intake vents and exhaust vents. If your attic is unfinished, the intake vents are generally located low on the roof along the soffits. Meanwhile, the exhaust vents are typically found higher, near, or along the roof ridge or peak.

Together, intake and exhaust vents allow the air to flow continuously throughout your attic. First, cooler air from outdoors is drawn in through the intake vents low on the roof. As the air becomes warmer and more humid, it rises and escapes through the higher exhaust vents at the top of the roof. 

Why Is Roof Ventilation Important?

Adequate attic and roof ventilation is the primary way your home’s roof system addresses the heat and moisture that can otherwise cause serious issues within your home or throughout your roof system. Left unchecked, both heat and humidity lead to their own problems. In a climate where your home is exposed to these two elements winter and summer, several issues can arise:

  1. Premature aging of your roof. During the warmest months, the sun’s rays can have a rapid heating effect on your roof’s shingles. This heat radiates down into the attic below. Without proper ventilation, the excessively hot air in the attic and the sun’s heat from above can work together to warp and prematurely age the roof sheathing as well as your shingles.
  2. Overheating of your home’s upper floors. Excessively hot air in your attic can also work to affect the interior of your home. If your attic floor is not adequately insulated, warm air can radiate through to the interior of your home. As a result, it is much more difficult—and costly—to keep your home cool and comfortable. 

  3. Moisture damage. Ice damming can cause moisture damage in cooler climates with the melting and refreezing of snow and ice on the roof due to excessively warm air inside the attic. In warmer climates, your home’s humidity—and the humidity of the surrounding air outside—can cause moisture damage, whether it’s warm or cool outside. When humid air from either source enters a cool attic, the moisture in the air condensates after making contact with a cool surface. Left to its own devices, this moisture can cause structural elements of your roof as well as the roofing system itself to deteriorate.

  4. Mold and mildew. Over time, moisture entering your attic can seep down into insulation and even the walls and drywall of your home’s interior, causing the growth of dangerous mold and mildew. Mold and mildew production can also force your cooling equipment to work harder to cool your home.

How Can You Tell if Your Attic Ventilation Is Insufficient?

There are a few signs your attic has an inadequate ventilation system. Some are readily apparent once you begin looking for them, while others are much more subtle. Look for these potential signs your attic ventilation system is insufficient:

  • An uneven rippled or wavy appearance of your home’s roof, which can be caused by moisture damage or heat warping the decking beneath
  • Frost, moisture damage, or dampness on the underside (interior side) of your roof sheathing
  • Evidence of rust or corrosion on metal elements of your roof system, including nail heads, electrical boxes, even your HVAC system
  • Evidence of damage or deterioration to your roof’s structural support system
  • Increases in your home’s heating and cooling bills, which can be caused by deteriorating insulation
  • HVAC system repairs increasing in frequency or severity as your HVAC needs to work harder to cool and heat your home
  • Any new or increasing allergy symptoms or respiratory illness occurrence among you and your family, which can be a sign of mold growth in your attic

How Can You Address an Improperly Ventilated Attic?

If you’ve noticed one or more of the above signs of insufficient ventilation, your first step should be to contact a local, certified roofing contractor. A professional can determine whether you have adequate ventilation and help you decide whether you should take additional steps to enhance ventilation. Your roofing contractor will weigh various considerations, including:

  • Local building codes, which typically require 1 square foot of net free-vent area per 300 square feet of unfinished attic space
  • Your area’s climate
  • The architecture of your roof
  • The condition of your attic floor and insulation
  • The age of your shingles
  • The overall condition of your roofing system

Depending on these considerations—and the cost of repairs or adding ventilation to your roof—a professional may recommend a new roof. In many cases, if your roof is at the end of its lifespan, a new roof can be more economical. If you choose to install a new roof, keep these ventilation measures in mind:

  • Utilizing ridge vents along the peaks and upper roofline
  • Utilizing a continuous system of soffit vents along the lower soffits
  • Insulating the top plates
  • Re-sealing the attic floor and adding insulation
  • Ensuring proper space between insulation and sheathing, and making sure insulation does not block soffit vents

Depend on Red Owl Roofing

If your Central Texas roof is showing signs of improper ventilation, you can utilize an vent calculator to determine whether your home could benefit from better ventilation. If so, schedule an inspection as soon as possible. Red Owl Roofing is a certified contractor and offers a 50-year warranty on new roofs to keep your home adequately ventilated for decades. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an inspection.