The efficacy and longevity of your roof isn’t just dependent on the quality of the materials you use. As with so many other areas of your home, various supporting aspects have to work together effectively in order for you to get the best performance from it.
Ventilation is among the most important elements for your roof and attic space. When your attic area doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, your roof can be subject to additional wear and tear over time. This can lead to you requiring significant roof repairs..
So, we’re going to take a look at some of the ways you can improve roof ventilation for your home.
Recognize the Signs
It is, of course, a good idea to simply look at upgrading your roof ventilation in general. This is particularly wise if you live in an older home that may not have had any renovations in some time. But often there will be signs that your roof isn’t receiving the right ventilation.
Some of these include:
Mold and Mildew
One of the most immediate and recognizable signs of poor ventilation in your roof area is mold or mildew. When the air in your attic is unable to circulate effectively, there is significant potential for humid air to build up — both during the summer months and in the winter when you have your central heating on. The lingering moisture can cause the telltale musty smell and green or black spotting that point to the presence of mold and mildew. When left unchecked, this can become a serious problem throughout your home.
Recurring Ice Dams
Ice dams occur when the underside of settled snow melts on your roof, runs down your tiled roofing or shingles toward the eaves and re-freezes there. These blocks of ice can cause serious damage to your roof and the structure of your home. A poorly ventilated attic space that is compounded by bad insulation will allow warm air to gather at the upper reaches of your house. Here, it can cause the underside of snow to melt in this way during the winter months.
Roof and Attic Damage
The moisture that results from poor ventilation can create physical damage symptoms to your roof and attic. Some of the more common signs will include swelling to the attic decking, roof beams and joists, underlayment and any wooden wall panels. The difficulty here is that such issues can have several causes, but it’s important to consider whether poor ventilation may be the culprit if you experience these.
Enable Passive Ventilation
In many cases, your most impactful and cost-effective option is to improve the natural flow of air through your attic or roof space. Even a gentle breeze can be sufficient to prevent moisture from gathering where it can cause problems. There are a few ways to approach this, though it’s generally considered wise to go for a combination of a couple or all of them, rather than relying on just one method.
These vents usually look like a form of small chimney that extends from one of the highest peaks of your roof. It’s a fairly simple system that just gives the rising hot air a place to safely escape, rather than stick around in the attic. It’s worth bearing in mind that these can be a magnet for debris on the wind and occasionally nesting birds. As such, you’ll need to develop a routine of occasionally checking and clearing these to keep them working efficiently.
Unlike roof vents, soffit vents are installed on the underside of your roof eaves. This provides an entry point for cool air to come into the attic and flow out again, taking any stagnating warm air with it. This is often best paired with a roof vent. However, you will generally need more than one soffit vent to be installed to make this an efficient system. The recommendation is usually to install a square foot of soffit ventilation for each 150 square feet of attic space you have in your home.
A gable is the peak edge of your roof. If you have a home with a single long gable as the roof, it is usually recommended that you install gable vents. This comes in a couple of different forms. You can have them installed on the walls at either end of the gable, or they can run along the ridge of the gable. This approach to ventilation allows for warm air to move freely up and out of the home, it also reduces air pressure in the attic space.
Utilize Active Methods
If you don’t live in an area where you get frequent winds or a good breeze current, you may need some mechanical assistance to improve your ventilation. These are not usually effective on their own and will require some of the vents outlined in the previous section to be at their most effective.
Some of these include:
These are hubs that affix to the surface of your roof. The fans inside these hubs run continuously to draw the hot air from the attic space and help it to escape through the roof vents. Because they are in constant need of power, there is an increasing number of these that are equipped with solar panels — this reduces the pressure it puts on your home electricity supply.
Roof turbines look like a small chimney with a bulbous veined section on the top. Inside this is a set of wind turbines that are designed to efficiently capture even small amounts of wind so it can draw warm air from the attic and help it disperse effectively. Many of these turbines are connected to the home power supply to ensure they can be used on low-wind days. Occasionally, the turbine will just need this power just to get started, with the natural airflow taking over propulsion afterwards.
Inefficient airflow through the attic space of your home can cause moisture-related damage to your roof. As such, it’s important to understand the telltale signs of poor ventilation and make improvements to prevent future issues. The solutions here usually take the form of passive vents that enable natural airflow, but in some cases active vents with mechanical attributes may be necessary. As the installation of these requires some structural adjustment, it’s always better to seek professional assistance. This will both make certain the vents are being positioned in the most effective areas and that they are installed correctly to avoid any additional issues.